The official Brookhaven city seal.
The official Brookhaven city seal.

Brookhaven City Council reviewed the proposed fiscal 2016 budget and decided on the first-ever city seal at its Nov. 10 meeting.

At $32.7 million, the proposed budget is 4 percent higher than the current budget, according to a presentation by city Finance Director Carl Stephens. He foresees a general fund boost of more than $1 million, up to roughly $20.7 million.

Most city departments see a budget boost, except for “general government,” slashed nearly 7 percent. That includes eliminating $125,000 currently devoted to mayor and City Council “allotments.” Among items proposed by department heads but not funded, according to city spokeswoman Ann Marie Quill: $373,000 for three traffic officers; $52,000 for an events/marketing coordinator; and $204,000 for an after-school/day camp program.

Among new expenses: over a half-million dollars in repairs and maintenance by Public Works; $50,000 in park improvements; and $18,000 for an internal audit.

The budget proposes funds for 3 percent raises for city employees, either for cost of living or merit-based. Among the new revenue sources: more than $450,000 expected from the new special tax district in the recently annexed Executive Park and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta area.

The next and final budget hearing is slated for the Nov. 17 City Council meeting.

As for the city seal, it ended up being a design echoing the current city logo, depicting buildings, trees and a brook. It was chosen as quietly as possible—by consensus rather than vote—during the council’s afternoon “work session.” City Councilman Bates Mattison, who spearheaded gathering designs for the seal, was out of the chamber at the time and later was surprised to learn from a reporter that the decision had been made.

Councilman Joe Gebbia also was absent. That left Mayor Rebecca Chase Williams and council members Linley Jones and John Park to make the decision about the seal, which will stamp official Brookhaven documents and probably hang above the council dias.

Williams indicated she had been stung by having “taken hits in the press” for prior discussion of 13 possible seal designs, which had the council joking about images that looked like “bacon” or “flames.”

Williams said the final selection is a good design because it shows the “brook in ‘Brookhaven’” and its buildings, too. “We’re a city of trees,” she added of a flowering tree in the design. “I always thought everything blooms in Brookhaven.”

The only change to the selected design will be adding a dark border at the request of City Clerk Susan Hiott, who will use the seal more than anyone else. Williams said she agreed that “gives it more gravitas or oomph when you stamp it on something.”

Mattison was surprised he had missed the seal selection and said he hoped the general public would still get a chance to weigh in. “I certainly hope to put it out to people” via an online survey, he said.

However, City Manager Marie Garrett confirmed in an interview that the seal is a done deal.

“It’s done. There was consensus,” she said.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.