Officials from four neighboring cities participated in a standing room only town hall meeting hosted by BrookhavenYES Thursday night.
The event, held at , included the mayors of Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, Decatur, Chamblee and Johns Creek, along with four additional city employees.
The meeting, held in a Q&A format, allowed neighbors to voice concerns, ask questions, and gain some insight into what has been successful in other cities who have recently incorporated.
Each of the mayors opened the meeting with an introduction and their perspective on the positive side of cityhood.
"We truly believe cities are the way to go," said Mike Davis, mayor of Dunwoody. "At some point a county gets too big and isn't able to provide the kinds of things you want in your neighborhood. It has to start giving some of those local services to local people."
Some of the biggest concerns related to an email that was recently sent out purporting a city of Brookhaven would have before it even opened its doors. This information was disputed by J. Max Davis, president of BrookhavenYES.
"The statement is false; the city is not going to start out with a deficit," he said. "When you have a city the revenues you get just don't come from property taxes, and in fact only a quarter of the revenues come from property taxes. DeKalb chose to focus only on the property tax portion and asked the Carl Vinson Institute to update their study.
"A day and a half later the county finance department released a HOST adjustment, and the city will actually start off with a $1.1 million surplus."
Throughout the question period there was an overarching theme of concern in regards to taxes going up and adding another layer of government, which all the officials seemed to agree would not be the case.
"It's not a heirarchy. The cities and the counties both receive our authorities from the state of Georgia," said . "In no way whatsoever is a city a layer of government. It is another form of government that is much closer to the constituency that it serves."
Several of the officials rejected the idea that taxes would go up with incorporation, explaining that taxpayers will continue to write one check, which will be distributed between the city and DeKalb County, and that in their respective areas they have kept their millage rates lower than they would have been had they stayed unincorporated.
When asked about the seemingly low commercial tax base in the proposed city, Davis said it would have a commercial tax base of 28 percent, as opposed to unincorporated DeKalb, which currently has 21 percent.
"We have a very healthy mix of commercial to residential. There is a lot of commercial hidden in this area that people don't realize," he said.
Other topics briefly touched upon were zoning, animal control and attracting new businesses to the area.