Raise Taxes? Reduce Expenses? Draw Down Reserves?

DeKalb County administrators said the county has only three options to recoup financial losses if Brookhaven becomes a city.

DeKalb County officials paint a dismal financial picture in the event Brookhaven becomes a city.

In the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Richard Stogner, the county chief operating officer, said the county's only options to recoup the estimated $27 million it predicts it would lose in tax revenue from Brookhaven residents are to "raise revenues, reduce expenses or draw down on reserves" - noting that the county was far from ready for the impact of a .

State Rep. Mike Jacobs and other proponents of cityhood have pointed out in hearings however that while DeKalb County will see a loss in some revenue, the services the county now provides to the area will be eliminated, thus eliminating an expense to the county. Similarly, Rep. Tom Taylor said that because Brookhaven residents will remain part of DeKalb County and using its fire department and schools, more than 70 percent of residents' tax dollars would still go to DeKalb County. 

Stogner said in the report that no possible solution is off the table, including job cuts and higher taxes.

What do you think? Will cityhood be financially damaging to DeKalb County? If Brookhaven becomes a city, how do you think DeKalb County should recoup financial resources based on Stogner's assessment?  Tell us in comments and start or join the conversation on Facebook.


Stan March 29, 2012 at 11:50 AM
Brookhaven will be 12 square miles and have 240 lane miles of roadway. Surely DeKalb will see some cost reduction from not having to patrol the area or repair the roadways. The North precinct has said 80% of its responsibility is in this area, and although residents dispute that claim, shouldn't the north precinct be reduced by 80%. That will save DeKalb money. How many road crews and vehicles can be eliminated if not working on 240 lane miles of road?
Annie G March 29, 2012 at 12:20 PM
This is ridiculous. If the County was investing in Brookhaven what it collected from us in taxes as to the limited four areas that the City would take, then the County should suffer not as the services would simply transfer from the County to the new city. This reveal the truth: the County uses our area to fill its coffers, but invests our money in the areas that get them re-elected. I don’t mind some sharing, but it seems that we’re the only one who give, and our neighbors to the south are the only ones who take. Moreover, under the City, the County would no longer have to provide certain services, but I bet you anything they do not lay off a single person – they just keep their payrolls bloated with unneeded personnel. The new city will be able to give us way more for less because we will be using private contractors, like Sandy Springs, who can fire employees who do not perform and are not bogged down by archaic retirement systems. Like some crazy Republicans, the DeKalb democratic government refuses to recognize evolution: if they do not change, they will become extinct. Everything must evolve, including governments. It’s a different world, a different economic environment, you need to change your business model like the rest of us. DeKalb will use these scare tactics to campaign for a no vote. I hope our residents can see through it.
Jordan Fox March 29, 2012 at 12:29 PM
The proposed City of Brookhaven will also be faced with the same dilemma. The headline could easily read, "Raise Taxes? Reduce Expenses? Draw Down Reserves? Administrators say the future city will only three options to recoup financial losses if referendum passes." They'd be right. The city is going to run into financial trouble because of lack of police protection or some other issue. The surplus will be too small for them to address this issue and they won't be able to raise taxes because of the millage cap.
HDM March 29, 2012 at 01:48 PM
If citizens agree that property taxes need to be raised somewhere down the line then there will be a referendum on the issue, which is a much better option for Brookhaven citizens than allowing DeKalb Government to have 1000 more employees than they need AND jack up our taxes by 26% as they did just last year. As the other new northside cities have shown us, governance will be much, much more efficient and representation will be much, much more responsive
Thomas Porter March 29, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Every knucklehead proponant of cityhood seems to imagine that Brookhaven will no longer be a part of DeKalb County and/or that their problems will no longer be the problems of the City-zens. Nope - they will both require the City-Zens tax money & they will be servants of 2 governments instead of one. They also imagine that the reduction in services by the County will equally offset the by the cost reduction of providing those services to a smaller number of people. Nope- impossible math. "Representative" Jacobs et al is selling a pipe dream. Shame on the voters if they believe him.
p March 29, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Wake up call Dekalb County !!! Great for everyone !!! These monolithic governments SHOULD be shaken up. Nothing else seems to do it to bring them out of the dark ages. Abuse of power, overspending, lack of efficiency demonstrated in Italy and Greece are right under our noses. I expect ANY new government could repair roads, sidewalks without 10 people. Open your eyes: 2 holding signs, 1 holding a shovel, 2 shoveling, 1 supervising, 1 watching w a smoke, 2 trucks w drivers..... It is NOT impossible math. It can and will be done more effiiciently. Dekalb then, should make appropriate cuts -- those they should have done which brought us to where we are today::: ENOUGH, TAKE BACK CONTROL BROOKHAVEN RESIDENTS .... THIS IS AMERICA .... IT CAN BE DONE !! GO FOR IT !!! DON'T BE DETERRED.
Jordan Fox March 29, 2012 at 02:59 PM
@Dean Matthews what if the new city needs the money before a referendum can be held to increase taxes? And what if the referendum fails despite the obvious need for more money? Then what? More local control and better services are possible in a City of Brookhaven, but not at the cost Jacobs and co are suggesting. The new city would be better served with a millage rate of 4.5 or 5 mils. It would still be a lot less than DeKalb, but provide more safeguards that the new city can stay afloat. If 4.5 - 5 mils yields a surplus, the city can either build its reserves, increase services or reduced taxes down the line. Starting off with 3.35 mils and such a low surplus is very irresponsible.
kensington palace March 29, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Ask your friends living in established Cities what their taxes are? They're paying city AND county taxes. Also, COB/A citizens will have to maintain a General Fund and Enterprise Fund to pay your COB/A employees. COB/A employees for police, parks/rec, judicial, library, fire/rescue, planning/development, etc will be paid from General Fund. BTW, General Fund is funded by your property taxes as well as fees for licenses. If COB/A wants to manage its own water, sewer, sanitation, etc, then COB/A employees get paid from Enterprise Fund that's funded from you paying your water, sewer, sanitation bills. Are Dunwoody, Decatur, Pine Lake, Sandy Springs city governments managing their own water and sewer lines? That'd be a big NO because it's very costly to lay new water and sewer pipes to cover their respective cities and pay salaries for Enterprise funded employees. Why not browse the county tax records of your friends living in Cities to find out what they're paying in General Fund taxes so you can get a gist of what you'll be paying if Brookhaven becomes Ashford? I agree Dekalb County is bloated with employees. Blame that on previous County CEOs, especially VJ. Campaigning on "more jobs" got him elected. It takes a very long time and much documentation to reduce any workforce. Be patient on county staff reductions. Besides; they'll go work for COB/A government!
Stephanie Melnik Walters March 29, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Kensington, I don't think anyone is disputing the fact that people will pay city and county taxes, but what you fail to say is that you will pay LESS county taxes than you do now, so the total amount you pay towards should stay about the same (or go up or down i guess, depending of what the final millage rate ends up being). Anyone who has lived in a city before knows how that works, it is no big shocker...Your post is off-putting to me, as if you're trying to shock-scare people with what is really just common sense... Also the name has been changed back to Brookhaven. And how much longer do you propose we wait for Dekalb County to clean up its act? 10 more years? 20 more years?? I guess if the people had more power to influence their own County government, then maybe things could change. But that's the problem- we DON'T. Not that i'm some huge proponent of Brookhaven or anything, but I mean, I can't exactly blame those people for feeling the way they do.
Stan March 29, 2012 at 08:39 PM
@Kensington Well I did what you requested. I checked the tax bills of three of my friends in Dunwoody. All comparable homes, and ALL PAY LESS total tax then I do. Have you done the same??
SayWhat? March 30, 2012 at 01:34 AM
Not sure how a 5 sentence news story can puzzle me so much, but puzzle me it does. Mr. Stogner has been the chief operating officer for some 12 years or more. He knows as much about the county economic condition as anyone and we get "raise revenue, reduce expenses or draw down on reserves?" 4 years after Dunwoody? I just live here, but I could do that, and would throw in "buy MegaMillions tickes" for free. Representative Jacobs says that the county will recoup some losses because some county services are being eliminated. This from the person who redrew his map three times to include or exclude commerical areas that "carry the residential areas?" Representative Taylor then chooses to include the School Board taxes in the "tax dollars still going to DeKalb County?" Give me a break.
Gilligan March 30, 2012 at 03:10 AM
Earth to Annie. Come in Annie. You City Yes people are snubbing your noses at DeKalb County until they say well, if you don't want us, fine. You won't have us. Then you start your B and C'ing. Also. It's not a campaign for a no vote. Its reality. You want the rest of the county to pay for services for your elitist city? You don't want DeKalb? Then why should they want you? I say, you want a city? Good have it. ALL of it.
Gilligan March 30, 2012 at 03:18 AM
Dean, I have looked up YOUR property tax bills. They have gone up 9%. NOTE: Since January your stupid city has shown a surplus only because they changed the millage rate up to the maximum capped amount of 3.35. Even though Mike Jacobs touts the 3.221 rate in his info. Your credit card is essentially already maxed out. If the millage rate of 3.221 were to have been used your surplus would have been less than $300.00. Yes that's right. Less than $300.00. Don't believe me? Just ask Mike. Or do the math yourself. Great idea folks. Great idea. Please ask Mike to explain why he is and has been using 3.35 since January but said nothing about it. UNDERSTAND. YOU HAVE ALREADY MAXED OUT.
HDM March 30, 2012 at 03:39 AM
Mr. Applebaum, the county portion of our tax bill was increased 26% last year and would only continue to increase in the coming years as Dekalb County government plunders this area to fund its wasteful bureaucracy, at least with city hood that portion of our property tax will remain in our community and likely be used as prudently as our neighbors in the other new Northside cities currently enjoy. A partial emancipation is a step in the right direction for Brookhaven citizens.
pat thomas March 30, 2012 at 04:51 AM
Our neighborhood is blessed because we have a very good commissioner as well as accessible North Precinct police officers, but we still have to endure too many other DeKalb -related assaults on our quality of life. Living in a city in DeKalb County does not eliminate problems; e.g., the dysfunctional school system will still exist. If DeKalb cut down on corruption and mismanagement, it would be a lot better off economically, and would be better able to inspire community confidence, which it lacks now.
pat thomas March 30, 2012 at 05:02 AM
Below are just a few recent relevant items about DeKalb County corruption and mismanagement taken from local news sources.  $41 million shortfall in DeKalb County Board of Education SPLOST funding that's forcing the shutdown of 35 school improvement projects, and putting 113 others in jeopardy  At the end of 2011, A DeKalb County grand jury called for a deeper investigation into the actions of school board members, citing questionable policies, spending, and nepotism concerns  DeKalb is cooperating with federal authorities in the case of two DeKalb County public works officials who were charged with extortion and bribery  The Crawford Lewis/Pat Reid DeKalb County Schools construction projects corruption scandal lives on and on and on  Allegations abound that individuals inside the Department of Watershed Management are manipulating the contract bidding process  A former DeKalb County police officer goes to federal prison for his role in a major drug trafficking case  A DeKalb police Sgt. is currently on restrictive duty pending the outcome of an investigation to determine if he influenced a witness or obstructed justice in a rape case  Former DeKalb Deputy Chief of Police Donald Frank pleaded guilty in federal court on bribery- conspiracy charges
Enuff Govt Already March 30, 2012 at 08:04 PM
Just the facts reads like a text book and it doesn't sell adverti"zing".Can't really speak on the school stories as I haven't done much checking into thembut if your interested the blog dekalbschoolwatch would be a good help. Reference the story about a former DeKalb Officer and a major drug ring. The news bits only briefly mentioned the crime was committed after he resigned. They down played the information that he was employeed by Clarkston. The other stories also downplayed the fact that DeKalb Police investigated and then sought out additional assistance to secure the best prosecution changes.
Stan March 30, 2012 at 08:57 PM
I wrote this piece to explain the effects the legislation will have on both property tax and utilities (franchise fees). http://brookhaven.patch.com/articles/city-of-brookhaven-taxes-and-franchise-fees It is a real world example.
pat thomas April 01, 2012 at 12:17 AM
Of course it is...
Gilligan April 04, 2012 at 02:12 AM
Medication please. Stans lost his mind again.
Stan April 04, 2012 at 11:52 AM
@Henry, where did I go astray. I took a property tax bill from the DeKalb online system and applied the calculation. I really would like to know where I miscalculated, if I did.


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