Where I grew up, a city was a geographical area with a centrally located Main Street lined with shops, parking meters and City Hall. The city government managed our courts, jails, police, schools, firefighting, licensing, zoning, road maintenance, water treatment plants, garbage, parks and recreation, arts (if we were lucky), the Fourth of July fireworks and the Christmas parade.
Oh, and they collected property taxes and other fees to pay for these services. Where I grew up, my city was defined not only by geography but by a shared sense of belonging and purpose among its residents.
So I have these questions about our proposed new city of Brookhaven – Where is Brookhaven’s Main Street and City Hall? How does this city evoke among its residents a shared sense of belonging and purpose when our government services would now be delivered to us by two governments – 9.4 percent by the city and 90.6 percent by DeKalb County? Is that really logical? Is that really a city?
According to the CVI Study, which I have read, the proposed city of Brookhaven would manage only 9.4 percent of our government services – parks, police, zoning, road maintenance and eventually a municipal court.
The rest of our government services (90.6 percent) would continue to be provided by DeKalb County – schools, jails, water and sewer, sanitation, fire and rescue, libraries, family services and hospitals. Theoretically, DeKalb County’s tax bill would go down since this proposal removes approximately $28.5 million in revenues (and hence service obligations) from DeKalb County.
It will remain to be seen how this change impacts DeKalb County, as its current operating budget of $529.7 million has not been analyzed and adjusted for this proposal. The CVI Study was not chartered to analyze the impact to DeKalb County.
If approved, we would be represented by two elected officials – one for the city and one for DeKalb County. I have read that one of the driving forces behind promoting a city is the chance for “local representation” and that the DeKalb County representative for our Brookhaven area lives far away.
I agree DeKalb County is a large area. However, unless the newly elected city representative lives down the street from me, I will not feel any more “represented” than I currently do.
In this age of e-mail, Internet, Facebook and a myriad of communication tools at our fingertips, I don’t personally feel “under” represented by someone who does not live in my neighborhood.
I am not unhappy with DeKalb County’s services – quite the opposite; I have always considered the employees of DeKalb County to be very courteous and responsive!
In my opinion, this proposal divides us. For those who have issues with DeKalb County services, I recommend you work with DeKalb County to make it better, not pick up your 9.4 percent ball and take it to a (new) home.
Voters, please vote “no” on July 31 to creating a new city named Brookhaven.
Beth Taylor lives in Brookhaven Heights, a neighborhood that would be incorporated into the city of Brookhaven.