The Brookhaven City Council voted unanimously July 12 to approve a resolution to support the DeKalb County Commission in a call to place a 1 percent Special Local Option Sales Tax and Equalized Home Option Sales Tax on the November ballot.
The City Council also voted to authorize and Intergovernmental Agreement with DeKalb County outlining how SPLOST funds will be spent.
“You’re only approving to put [the measures] on the ballot,” said City Manager Christian Sigman.
The DeKalb Board of Commissioners is expected to vote July 19 on the sales tax referendums.
City Attorney Chris Balch said during the council’s work session that other cities were looking to Brookhaven on how it votes on the IGA and resolution.
“We’re the largest city in the county. Other cities are looking to us. We either have the IGA or we don’t see dollar one,” he said.
Dunwoody City Council voted July 11 to defer on the resolution and Intergovernmental Agreement until after the Board of Commissioners’ July 19 vote.
Balch said the city is receiving a “better than fair shake” from the county.
“Cities are making out… there’s no other way to say it. Cities are doing better than the county,” Balch said. The county is “very understanding of it’s history” of corruption and scandals, he said.
“My understanding is they’re trying to turn a page,” he said.
“That’s encouraging because in the end we’re all one DeKalb,” said Councilmember Joe Gebbia.
Sigman said at the council meeting that because current SPLOST money is appropriated by the county to cities based on populations from the 2010 Census, and because Brookhaven was not a city in 2010, there is a risk of not receiving any SPLOST money if the IGA is not approved.
“If we don’t do the IGA and the SPLOST does pass, we will get zero … and we’d also lose what money we are getting now,” Sigman said. “It would be double whammy.”
Councilmember Linley Jones wanted to assure residents that by voting to approve the IGA she was not voting her endorsement of DeKalb County’s project list of what to do with the SPLOST funds.
“This will allow Brookhaven residents to vote,” she said.
Mattison said he is not in favor of the county’s projects list, including plans for a $40 million new government center, and said the commission “needs to go rework their plan.”
As part of the IGA and resolution approval, Sigman drew up a Brookhaven projects list to be funded with SPLOST money. If SPLOST is approved for six years, Brookhaven will receive about $7.7 million a year.
DeKalb County is considering a three, five and six year SPLOST. Sigman said the projects list includes projects the council has made priorities: the Parks Master Plan, road paving, bike/pedestrian plan, green space acquisition, City Hall, Buford Highway Improvement Plan and the Peachtree Creek Greenway.
Sigman drew up spending costs for each scenario. For five years, he submitted this proposal:
The Georgia General Assembly approved last session House Bill 215, which allows DeKalb County residents to decide through a referendum to adopt a SPLOST to fund capital projects, and to reform the existing Homestead Option Sales Tax (HOST) to create an E-HOST that would provide additional property tax relief to taxpayers.
SPLOST is a 1 percent sales tax. The revenue from a SPLOST is to be used for capital improvement projects, such as transportation improvements, road resurfacing, facility improvements and new or expanded parks.
HOST is a 1 percent sales tax that generates approximately $100 million a year for the county. That money is currently split 80 percent for homeowner tax relief and 20 percent for capital projects. The E-HOST referendum would revise the spending to have 100 percent of the funding go to property tax relief.
Both E-HOST and SPLOST must be approved by voters for them to be enacted.