By John Schaffner
State Rep. Michael Jacobs (R-Dist 80) covered several local and state issues in rapid-fire manner at the breakfast meeting of the Brookhaven Community Connection (BCC) Oct. 13, including the use of tax abatements, backdoor bond issues to finance public buildings and the pressure for cityhood or annexation for a part of Brookhaven.
Jacobs said he thought the new city of Dunwoody is doing pretty well, and that there is some interest among those living in the north end of Brookhaven and the “finger” stretching north of Chamblee in being annexed into Dunwoody or Chamblee. He said he does not support annexation for 2010.
However, he cautioned the audience of about 30 who attended the BCC breakfast meeting at the Hudson Grille, “As it moves further south it will affect Brookhaven.
“It is an issue you need to be watching,” he added. “It could bring existing cities to Brookhaven’s doorstep.”
He also indicated there is interest in north Brookhaven and Dunwoody in ongoing discussions about the proposed re-birth of Milton County. “There are some in Dunwoody who would like to be part of a new Milton County,” he said.
While Jacobs is not opposed to the Milton County proposal, “I am not supportive of Dunwoody being in Milton County.” The same would be true for other parts of North DeKalb County. “That could change the impact of government on Brookhaven,” he added.
Jacobs, who recently fought hard to deny the Sembler Company from getting a proposed tax abatement for its Town Brookhaven development, said he understands the purpose of tax abatements as an incentive to kick-start a project. He said he just had a problem with that particular tax abatement.
“This was unprecedented because the project was half out of the ground and because of the size of the abatement,” Jacobs told the audience.
He referenced Dan Woodley’s smaller multi-use development on Dresden Drive, which Woodley did by himself without an abatement and finally ended up losing to an out-of-state investor.
He said if that tax abatement had been approved, “it would have put other retailers in the area at a disadvantage. It skews the marketplace.” He added that it also puts “upward pressure on everyone else’s taxes.”
Jacob also said he fought hard against a backdoor bond issue the DeKalb Development Authority was trying to use to build a performing arts center in south DeKalb. “The Development Authority should not be building public buildings,” he added.
He said all issues of bonds need to be subject to public referendums.
In response to questions, Jacobs said, “I am open to a community improvement district for Brookhaven,” to help pay for needed infrastructure improvements. He also favors state Sen. Dan Weber’s legislation that would create beautification districts and create zoning overlays “that have teeth.”
He said a one-cent sales tax to fund a stadium for the Atlanta Falcons at the former GM plant site, “will be dead on arrival at the General Assembly. The county has a terrible history with one-cent sales taxes,” he added.
In terms of the judge’s ruling restricting Atlanta to 1960s withdrawal levels from Lake Lanier by 2012, Jacobs said he is optimistic a solution will be worked out.
He pointed out that 2012 is a presidential election year. “No president is going to face a re-election with a major city facing water rationing,” he told the group. So, he feels sure the federal government will find a solution to the problem facing Atlanta and other states.