A proposed study of whether a city of Brookhaven is economically feasible could be completed by October, the man likely to conduct the study told a gathering of north DeKalb County residents.
Ted Baggett of the Carl Vinson Institute at the University of Georgia told scores of residents gathered at Oglethorpe University on May 24 the study would examine potential revenues and expenses for a new city in the area.
“We’re not going to take a side,” Baggett said. “We think doing this kind of research is a way to add to public discussion.”
Rep. Mike Jacobs, who has proposed legislation creating a new city in the area, said the study probably will examine several possible outcomes. Jacobs has said his legislation is a way to spark public debate over the creation of a new city and requires the Vinson Institute study.
The study could be financed by a nonprofit citizens group created to raise money for the project. Jacobs said there may also be state money to pay for the study.
“Ultimately, this is going to be a conversation with the community about if you would have a city and what that city would be,” Jacobs said. “There’s a lot of different ways this could be done. We can discuss all this as a community.”
Jacobs said he intended for the Vinson Institute to examine three areas. One would be bounded by Chamblee and Dunwoody and extend to include the neighborhoods of Historic Brookhaven and Lenox Park, he said. Another study area would add Ashford Park.
The third study area would include only neighborhoods in the Murphey Candler area and around Silver Lake, an area he said shows “a high level of support… for some kind of municipal option.” If creating a new city wouldn’t work, those areas might want to seek annexation into Chamblee or Dunwoody, he said.
“We’re going study different scenarios,” Jacobs said.
The meeting, called and moderated by Jacobs, drew about 200 residents. Sen. Fran Millar of Dunwoody, Reps. Tom Taylor of Dunwoody and Elena Parent of DeKalb County and Chamblee Mayor Eric Clarkson attended.
Jacobs has said the city should be financed through taxes now used to pay for some county services. Millar said county taxes could rise substantially this year.
At times, discussion grew contentious as some residents questioned the need for a new city or wondered what effect creating another city would have on the county at large.
“I’m kind of offended,” Ashford Park Civic Association president Ronnie Mayer told Jacobs. “I’m sitting here and you’re bashing our elected officials and bashing our police department and you’re talking about using state money to fund this. It should all be private money.”
Other residents said they had no complaints with the services they now receive from DeKalb County
“The question is whether the local citizens want to have another layer of government,” said resident Jim Johnson. “Do we want to have our own city hall, our own jail, have our own police writing tickets?”