Does Brookhaven’s proposed budget indicate Higher Taxes?

2.23 City Budget Work Session

2.23 City Budget Work Session – Click to Watch VIDEO

It may be up to you Brookhaven! Show up and offer your opinion!

Mayor Davis and the City Council are now faced with shaping our financial future for the first time in the history of our City. This is serious business folks.

Brookhaven’s Mayor, J Max Davis, has presented the Council with a 2013 Draft Budget (here). As the Budget before the Mayor and Council at this time is only a Draft, Mayor Davis has opened up the floor for discussion, questions and clarification. Mayor Davis has suggested many times during Work Sessions and Council Meetings that he doesn’t want the citizens of Brookhaven to have any surprises in the form of higher taxes. 

It is true, the Budget can be a daunting task to work through – there are many line items, many calculations, many considerations, that all come together in the form of a document that quite frankly, most people neither take the time to fully read and/or understand. They simply want to know if there is an increase in what they will be required to pay or, if lucky, perhaps they may save a buck or two.

Tuesday, February 26th at 7:00 pm in Lupton Auditorium at Oglethorpe University, will be the ONLY Public Hearing on the 2013 Budget. This will be a time where the citizens of Brookhaven can voice their concerns and to become involved in the decision making process as the Mayor and City Council prepare to finalize and adopt a budget very soon.

The Brookhaven Post has been told by Brookhaven Officials there will be other opportunities for the public to offer a comment – but that this Tuesday (26th) will be the ONLY meeting where the Mayor and Council will respond to questions. There is a City Council Work Session that will take place later this afternoon (Monday, 2/25) at Brookhaven City Hall. The meeting will begin at 3:30 pm and run until…

2.23 City Budget Workshop

2.23 City Budget Workshop

During the City Budget Work Session held at Brookhaven City Hall, Saturday, February 23rd, (video here), there was a good deal of discussion and a careful review of all line items in the Budget. Of particular note was an in-depth conversation regarding the Millage Rate.

District 2 Councilman, Jim Eyre, requested that further information be provided to the Council from Staff. Eyre said according to his own calculations, the Mayor’s budget increases taxes nearly 75% for Brookhaven Citizens over what residents paid in 2012 to Dekalb County. Mayor Davis also requested that Christopher Pike provide more information such as a breakdown and other alternatives for millage, exemptions and related.

In the early morning hours today (Feb 25), Councilman Jim Eyre sent out the following email to his constituency:

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Date: Mon, Feb 25, 2013 at 1:11 AM

Subject: City of Brookhaven Budget Question

To: a-p-x@yahoogroups.comashfordpark@yahoogroups.comDVCAgroup@yahoogroups.com

 It became apparent during our City Council work session yesterday the 2013 budget that Mayor Davis put forth for the City of Brookhaven (CoB) includes a millage rate for 2013 that would represent a substantial increase from the net property tax amount paid in 2012.   By net tax amount, I mean that amount a CoB homeowner actually paid after all HOST and Homestead credits were deducted from the gross tax amount due.

 Using my own property tax bill, I determined the 2012 net tax amount I paid represents a millage rate of 1.49 mils vs a net millage rate of 2.55 mils I would pay under the proposed CoB 2013 budget.  The net millage rate paid will vary based on the value of a home, it will be less for lower valued homes and more for higher valued homes, as the CoB Homestead Exemption is fixed at a $20,000 reduction of the taxable assessment or $67.00.

 While on the surface, this represents a 71% property tax increase for my home, the actual dollar amount equates to approximately $42.40 per $100,000 of fair market value of a home.  This tax increase would only apply to homeowners who currently qualify for HOST and Homestead credits and owners of commercial properties and rental properties who do not qualify for either tax credit will see a reduction in their tax rate. 

 The dilemma we have is that the CoB revenue for 2013 is substantially lower than it will be in later years as the timing of the city start up as detailed in our City Charter does not allow us to collect $7million to $9million in taxes and fees until 2014.  Therefore, we are facing a one year budget shortfall that can only be made up in one of two ways – a property tax increase as noted above or cuts in services to be provided by the CoB during our first year of operations.

 I have asked staff to provide revenue information for several scenarios that may allow us to reduce further the tax burden on homeowners and expect that information this week.  While these revenue projections are one piece of the budget puzzle I will consider, a much more important piece is your thoughts on how the CoB might proceed.

 As I see it, at this time we have two options:  (i) accept a tax increase for 2013 with expectations that this increase will be reduced for homeowners in 2014 when all revenues are available to the CoB, or;  (ii) further reduce our service levels to better match available revenue with little or no tax increase for homeowners.  

 PLEASE let the Mayor and City Council hear your voice regarding these options at a Public Hearing for the proposed 2013 budget at 7:00p.m. on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at Lupton Hall on the Oglethorpe University Campus.

Additional information, including a copy of the proposed 2013 City of Brookhaven budget and details on the public hearing can be found at brookhavenga.gov.

 — 

Jim Eyre

Brookhaven City Council District 2

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