A map of the LaVista Park community in blue that was recently annexed into the city of Brookhaven. (File)

The Brookhaven City Council has unanimously approved creating a special tax district for the newly annexed area of LaVista Park, implementing for the first time the ordinance city officials say is needed to preserve its tax base as more property owners seek to become part of the city.

The move, approved Jan. 14, allows the city to charge residents of LaVista Park, who were annexed into the city in December, the same millage rate they had been paying to DeKalb County. The money will go to address infrastructure issues such as stormwater, roads, parks and other repairs. In November, the City Council approved the ordinance to create special tax districts for newly annexed areas.

Steven Chapman, Brookhaven’s assistant manager and chief financial officer, said in an interview that the city will address an applicant’s infrastructure requirements as part of any annexation, and that the “governing mechanism allows us to be able to collect millage to accomplish that task.”

Brookhaven’s total annual millage rate is 40.114, while the rate for unincorporated DeKalb County is 43.890, according to numbers released by the city.

“We know that by annexing an unincorporated portion of the county into incorporated Brookhaven, there is a millage savings related to that,” Chapman said. “We would dedicate the marginal difference to infrastructure in that area to bring them up to the level in the overall city of Brookhaven.”

By adding LaVista Park to Brookhaven, the city gained about 2,000 residents; 600 single-family houses; a pair of multi-family developments; four office parcels; five industrial lots; and eight commercial properties within a total of 330 acres. The neighborhood is located south of I-85 and includes the Executive Park office complex. The LaVista Park Civic Association contended in its request for incorporation that residents would have more of a voice in the continuing developments of Emory University and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, among others.

“We’ve been talking about it and we finally did it,” said Chapman, adding that Brookhaven’s newest residents have been mostly supportive of the idea. “What’s nice now is that the savings  they were getting, as opposed to paying it to DeKalb County and then having it go into the big county pool, we will be specifically dedicating it to their infrastructure.”

The new legislation is being sent to the county’s tax commissioner “and then we will set the millage for that area in the May-June time frame,” Chapman said.

– Kevin C. Madigan