DeKalb County voters said “Yes” to the proposed city of Brookhaven at the polls July 31.
In what appeared to be a close race, by press time 75 percent of polls reporting showed 55.61 percent of voters in favor of Brookhaven and 44.39 percent against it, with 3,532 voting yes and 2,819 voting no.
The creation of the city has been a point of discussion for nearly a decade. In 2010, the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute released a study that stated the creation of the city was feasible and would result in a $135,000 surplus for the proposed city.
Since the results of that cityhood study were released however, county officials and various special interest groups have sprung up, some in support of the city and some against it. An analysis released by the DeKalb County June 19 said if created, the city would start out with a deficit rather than the surplus mentioned in the Vinson Institute study.
According to DeKalb County Commissioner Lee May, chairman of the board’s finance committee, at the time of the Vinson study, officials were unaware of what the tax digest would be.
Rep. Mike Jacobs, who pushed the cityhood referendum through the General Assembly, said the county’s analysis is inaccurate because it doesn’t include increased Homestead Option Sales Tax (HOST) collection and said every city is going to receive larger HOST proceeds. He said the additional HOST funds would equal approximately $1.3 million.
Max Davis, president of Brookhaven Yes, a grassroots organization promoting the cityhood of Brookhaven, said supporters of the movement believe the city of Brookhaven can do a better job than the DeKalb County government.
Davis said many residents cited the county’s current budget deficit and shifting resources as just a few of the reasons they support the cityhood movement.
“A well-run, efficient city can only improve the surrounding area,” Davis said.
Groups such as Ashford Neighbors and NoBrookhavenCity say there is not enough financial support for a new city and if it was created, it would have to cut back on services. Opponents also cite the problems the area’s neighbor, newly incorporated Dunwoody, is having.
“They’re in a huge ethics battle in their new city council,” Mary Ellen Imlay, co-founder of NoCityBrookhaven, said. “We can’t expect to be any different.”
Imlay, who was monitoring her computer as the results came in, said she and fellow NoBrookhavenCity members fought a good campaign and they are “deeply disappointed” in the results.
“In a race this close I’m going to wait until all of the votes are counted,” Imlay said.