Brookhaven City Council voted to adopt the city’s first ever budget March 26.
The $16.4 budget will be adjusted several times throughout the year, said financial consultant Chris Pike. The millage rate, proposed at 3.35 mills, will be formally adopted in June after DeKalb County sets the tax digest.
City officials refuted a series of prerecorded phone calls and post cards to Brookhaven residents that claimed the city would raise taxes.
Below is a set of question and answers about the budget prepared by the city:
What is the proposed budget for FY13?
The proposed budget is $16.465 million. This budget is acting as a place holder and will be
finalized in the summer after the city receives DeKalb County’s tax digest and other information.
What does the budget include?
The budget includes operating expenses for the city, including administration, police, community
development, parks and recreation, public works, legal and other city services. This includes
funding to establish Brookhaven’s own police department.
What is the proposed millage rate?
The maximum millage rate permitted under Brookhaven’s charter is 3.35 mills. This rate is being
used as a starting point until mid-year budget adjustments are made, which likely will occur in
July. During these summer budget adjustments, the Mayor and Council anticipates setting a
lower millage rate.
Will Brookhaven residents see a tax increase?
The Brookhaven city charter caps the city millage rate at 3.35 mills. Brookhaven will not raise
taxes above this cap. Brookhaven’s charter also doubles the current $10,000 Homestead
exemption to $20,000. Brookhaven residents will also see a lower car tax as a result of the
incorporation. The city has also set business licenses and permit fees 10 percent lower than
At the time when the legislature approved this capped millage rate and during the city
referendum campaign, this rate represented a number that gave a small tax cut or maintained
the current tax levels for most Brookhaven taxpayers, even with franchise fees. However, just
days before the city referendum, the DeKalb County CEO reduced the level of revenue that
goes to city residents, effectively raising taxes on city residents. DeKalb removed money
intended only for police services and moved it to the county’s general fund, which ultimately
impacted the amount of revenue coming to all cities in DeKalb. At the time, all nine cities in
DeKalb – regardless of location, demographics or political makeup – objected to the county’s
manipulation of the budget numbers and signed a joint letter protesting this move by the county,
which effectively raised taxes on only city residents.
Is what DeKalb County did legal?
Ga. Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-Brookhaven) has sent a letter to Attorney General Sam Olens,
requesting a legal opinion on DeKalb County’s ability to raise the millage rate beyond the
rollback rate without holding public hearings as required by state law. See attached letter.
When will Brookhaven set the millage rate?
The city will finalize the millage rate by July after receiving the tax digest and other revenue
figures, including the HOST sales tax credit, from DeKalb County.arch 26, 2013
What factors are impacting this budget?
As expected, the city’s revenue for this first year budget will be less than future years because
the city is not drawing from a full year of revenue. Brookhaven’s budget also is contingent on
receiving franchise fees and DeKalb setting the tax rate, HOST rate, tax digest and property
assessments. Brookhaven will not learn these final revenue numbers until the summer, and
therefore will not know how far below the capped millage rate that the city can set its tax rate.
Additionally, the DeKalb County school board has raised its tax rate by 1 mill and the county
increased water rates by nearly 13 percent this year. Brookhaven does not control either of
What are Brookhaven’s sources of revenue?
The majority of the city’s revenue is contingent on the county tax digest. Some of the major
revenue sources include:
– real property tax
– personal property tax
– HOST sales tax
– business and occupation tax
– motor vehicle tax
Why are some people making inaccurate accusations about tax increases and an
Some citizens received an anonymous robocall. Others received the call and an anonymous
postcard with inaccurate accusations on the budget. The city did not distribute this information
and does not know who or whom is responsible for this misleading information. Unfortunately,
there are individuals and other entities who have an interest in Brookhaven failing and
preventing further incorporation of cities in DeKalb County.
How do I stay informed in the future?
The city encourages residents to share this Q&A with their homeowners’ associations and other
civic groups, as well as sign up for the Brookhaven e-newsletter to receive accurate information
on city business and activities.
For more information or to sign up for the city e-newsletter, visit www.brookhavenga.gov.