Why I want to see a City of Brookhaven

A BrookhavenYES Board member shares his views on cityhood.

A week or two ago Representatives Elena Parent (D-81) and Mike Jacobs (R-80) exchanged viewpoints on the formation of new cities in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.  The Jacobs editorial was soon followed by an editorial authored by DeKalb CEO Ellis.  I did not see my reason for supporting Brookhaven in any of those editorials - not that I expected to.  The problem is that we have a county operating with an obsolete economic model and we don’t have a way to change the model. 

We continue with the same economic planning and budgeting because our basis of operation is not changing. The bureaucracy, and its inertia won’t let it.  We can’t reduce the cost of county operations because we are up against politically charged discussions of reductions in county staff, reductions in benefits, loss of police or fire services, garbage pickup once every two years and the like.  Unfortunately, the only way to make the county work is either to change something, or continue to increase our direct and hidden tax burden.   This fundamental change, that we cannot make, happens in city formation. 

With city formation, and for one set of services, we deconstruct our legacy paradigm using contracted services, fewer employees, contribution type retirement programs, and better responsiveness through a shorter and leaner chain of command in all services and in city management.  I don’t want to continue to operate the way the county does, I want the county to operate the way new cities do, and the City of Brookhaven will.  


Larry Danese

Larry Danese is a member of the Board BrookhavenYES and a longtime community activist in DeKalb County.

Steve Walker March 06, 2012 at 02:13 PM
One of the BEST articles yet !! Since we can't seem to get rid of Dekalb's CEO form of government, the only county in the entire state of Georgia to operate this way, City hood is the only way to get a local Gov't that operates within its means in the black.
HDM March 06, 2012 at 02:40 PM
This article represents my view on the matter too, DeKalb Government is too big, too expensive and too unresponsive, the new northside cities are better stewards and I want that for our area too.
Thomas Porter March 06, 2012 at 03:25 PM
The support to create a city is based in large part upon many residents dissatisfaction with the administration of DeKalb County. If there is a City created, all residents will still be in DeKalb County and the County will continue to require support. The County will raise taxes to support itself after their tax basis is cherry-picked by the proposed City. Further the City's proposed budget is not well thought out. In the end, we'll double the amount of government, not reduce it and increase overall taxes. Why doesn't everyone try (demand) to fix DeKalb?
Steve Walker March 06, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Fix Dekalb Gov't ?? Get rid of CEO form of Gov't. Privatize services.....Companies that work for profit realize time is money and don't send out 20 people to stand around milking the tax payers wallet all day for a 1 hr pot hole repair job. (only to cover it up with a metal plate for 3 more years)......Dekalb County is run by folks that live in South Dekalb and whose mission it is to divert North Dekalb $$ to their South Dekalb neighborhoods. I have paid taxes for 30 plus years to Dekalb and they still haven't fixed South Dekalb and another 30 years worth won't either.
HDM March 06, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Just to add to Steve Walker's comment, nothing that he states is racial
Steve Walker March 06, 2012 at 05:31 PM
Dean, you are correct it is not. It is just the truth of the matter. Now the County wants to build a Soap Box Derby Park !
Thomas Porter March 06, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Just curious - does anyone doubt that DeKalb County government will cease to exist in almost the exact same size and cost if there is a City created? Does anyone actually think the combined City & County governments will be smaller? If not, how can the cost of more government be less than it is now?
HDM March 06, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Thomas, why wouldn't the County lower their expenses by the amount the services that will be replaced by the City current cost?
Steve Walker March 06, 2012 at 06:32 PM
The only way that no longer providing a service would cost the County money is if they are charging more in taxes than that service actually costs.
Steve Walker March 06, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Freeze your property value.
Thomas Porter March 06, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Dean - you didn't answer my question about what you believe will happen, you asked another question. I don't think DeKalb Gov. will shrink EQUAL to the replaced services simply because it is counter-intuitive to most government, especially entrenched ones. The number of services DeKalb will have to provide to the rest of the county remain the same, the only question is the size of each department - and I would be willing to bet that there will be GREAT resistance to any department getting smaller. I can almost hear it now... "Well DeKalb County's costs have actually DECREASED in since last year by 2 1/2%, we're holding the line for our citizens!".
HDM March 06, 2012 at 06:40 PM
And now you are beginning to understand the problem with DeKalb County Government, Thomas...we want to be as free from that mess as possible.
Thomas Porter March 06, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Dean: wholly agree, but my point is that you will not be "rid" of anything, & you will pay more.
Enuff Govt Already March 07, 2012 at 12:28 AM
"We don't have a way to change the model", an odd statement for an election day. "We can't reduce the cost of county operations"; the budget is now tens of millions less than before. "Loss of police or fire services" will happen with a new city. The county uses more and more contracted services, has fewer employees, has contribution type retirement programs and is more responsive. The new cities are not shinning beacons on the hill. They are running out of money and are laying the ground work for tax increases. City of Ashaven or Brookford will only offer fewer services, less capable public works and a dangerous downgrade in public safety.
Eddie E. March 07, 2012 at 01:58 AM
What a careful recitation of failed talking points! We need look no farther than the glowing megalopoli to our North and West to see that hamstringing revenue guarantees inadequate services, too few police officers, crumbling roads. So much for the clanging cymbals of 'local control. Do the clear thinking citizens really want to dive off this cliff and spend 20 years proving it won't work just because a handful of folks aren't being properly kissed by the Dekalb Commission? Where in America has 'adding a layer of government' solved the problem?
Bill Lowe March 07, 2012 at 04:50 PM
I really like how this wonderful OP/ED piece is filed under Obituaries. Well Played.
HamBurger March 07, 2012 at 05:33 PM
So sad . . . We never really got to know that no-name city . . . Where shall I send flowers?
Chuck Konas March 08, 2012 at 12:20 AM
Its naïve to believe the county with be able to reduuce their services and therefore their costs if Ashford becomes a city. There will be duplication of services and therefore an increase in costs. Thomas is right that we will still be in Dekalb and subject to its inefficiencies. All governments are inefficient and become bloated. Its just a matter of time. Problem is once this happens there's no turning back.
Matt Foley March 11, 2012 at 04:19 AM
http://www.peopledirect.org/?p=834 - an open letter to Mike Jacobs and Fran Millar from a resident of "unincorporated Dekalb County" aka A-T-L-A-N-T-A Hey Mike and Fran - Can you demonstrate (with ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY, please) that your new city of Ass-ford or Brookhaven will be less costly to me and my neighbors and numerous others who oppose this farce!
the Colonel March 15, 2012 at 02:41 AM
HamBurger March 15, 2012 at 12:41 PM
Brookhaven Bob . . . What became of him?
Carl Childers March 15, 2012 at 01:50 PM
Well this Letter to the Editor was submitted into the Obituaries Heading. Yikes! Long live Bob.
m May 04, 2012 at 02:24 PM
So amny fallacies about duplication of services. Please undersatnd you tax bill! Your tax bill is 3 parts! 1. Dekalb General fund (Grady/Marta/Courts) 2. Dekalb County Schools 3. City or City Services (SSD) Police/fire/Planning/Code enforcement/ Trash pick-up Thsi will remai the same. If you live in Decatur you pay: 1. Dekalb General fund taxes 2. Dekalb School taxes 3. City taxes (police/fire/planning/code enforcement) and so on This is not the first city to form. Brookhaven will get to keep their local money local. and it won't be shifted to South Dekalb. This is not duplication of services. It's a transfer from one poorly run govt to hopefully a better one. the county will only provide general services: Courts/Marta/Grady! The anti-folks are so uneducated about the tax situation it makes me laugh. If you want to throw your tax money to south Dekalb for brick sidewalks and road improvements: then vote against the new city! That's what you want: status quo! If you want to keep your money local for resurfacing, fixing potholes, creating bikeways and sidewalks: vote for the new City! Brookhaven will be much better than the status quo! No brainer! city taxes for city ser


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