The Governor’s Commission on Brookhaven is beginning to formulate a plan for the new city. The commission used its weekly meetings, held Sept. 20 and Sept. 27, to appoint committees, accept donated office space and agree on a timeline to complete its work.
The five-member board was appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal to serve as an interim government that will help get the new city of Brookhaven started. The election for mayor and city council is scheduled for Nov. 6, with any needed runoff elections on Dec. 4. The city is scheduled to officially begin operations Dec. 17.
Bill Riley, the commission’s pro bono attorney, presented the commission with a timeline that he said would allow vendors the greatest amount of time to create and submit bids for city services.
Brookhaven likely will rely heavily on private-sector partners, who will participate in a competitive bid process to become the providers of city services such as public works, and parks and recreation. Other cities created recently, such as Sandy Springs and Dunwoody, have relied on private-sector contractors to deliver city services.
Riley, who has worked with the six other new metro-area cities starting with Sandy Springs in 2005, recommended that requests for proposals be sent out by Oct. 12, so that vendors have until Nov. 20 to turn in their bids. Riley said the commission should review the bids and make their recommendations to city council by Dec. 1.
“The longer vendors have to put a bid together, the sharper it’s going to be,” Riley said. “We want to maximize the time they have to put together what they want to do.”
Commission Chairman Ben Vinson announced 10 committees created to research different municipal functions.
There are five committees that Vinson called “core function committees,” which are the things the commission is required to do according to the act creating the city. Those committees will do things such as search for key city staff, locate city office space and work with DeKalb County on the transition from county to city services.
Vinson also appointed leaders for what he called the “working committees,” which will research city services like finance, police and public works.
The committees will each have a co-chair from the governor’s commission and a citizen co-chair as well as an expert in that field. Experts include Sandy Springs Police Chief Terry Sult and Sandy Springs Assistant City Manager Eden Freeman.
Some of the commissions have begun meeting, while others are still getting started.
At the Sept. 27 meeting, the leaders of each committee offered a report on their progress.
Jed Beardsley, co-chair of the offices and facilities committee, said he is looking at 10,000 square feet to 15,000 square feet of space for Brookhaven’s administrative offices and police station.
“I’ve been approached and had discussions with several Brookhaven residents who are in real estate,” Beardsley said. “I’ve gained a fairly good idea of the types of available spaces that are in our market.”
J.D. Clockadale, who heads the police committee, said the group has had productive meetings. All but two members have had careers in law enforcement, he said. Committee members have begun looking into interim police services, 911 service, and the number of officers the city should have. “We have some very serious issues to address,” Clockadale said.
Riley recommended that commission members take advantage of the work done by the volunteer task forces that were organized by Brookhaven Yes, a group that campaigned to create the city. He said they already have knowledge and data specific to the area.
“The compressed time period begs that we use information gathered by citizen committees that have been meeting for months,” Riley said.
As it transitions toward self-sufficiency, Brookhaven may look to neighboring cities to provide municipal services in addition to DeKalb County, which serves the area now.
Riley said it’s likely nearby cities would be interested in helping Brookhaven get started.
“Johns Creek really took Peachtree Corners as their sister city,” Riley said. “I have found every city that has been started is happy and proud with what they’ve done and they want to share that with their neighbors.”