The city was authorized to place a property tax rate up to 3.35. Council members discouraged this rate and suggested a more conservative rate.
District 2 Councilman Jim Eyre proposed the 2.85 property tax rate. He said he believed this covered all expenses in the budget and would provide for reserves since it is projected that higher revenues will come this year.
“It is prudent,” Eyre said. “We are expecting higher revenues, and this gives us sufficient amount to cover our cost and to place some in reserves when we start to look at next year’s budget.”
District 4 Councilman Joe Gebbia thanked Eyre for his foresight and concern for the citizens of Brookhaven. In public hearings, residents expressed concern about the cap property tax rate especially since DeKalb County has not set a new millage rate.
“We heard from the public and have been committed to providing quality services while being fiscally conservative,” Mayor J. Max Davis said. “I am pleased today that we can set a rate far below our cap. The council and staff have done a great job in achieving that goal.”
Council reminded residents of the problems of setting a budget rate with no previous history. Also, if Brookhaven was still unincorporated a 4.96 property tax rate would have been set.
“There are some unknowns since we have no historical info,” District 1 Councilwoman Rebecca Williams said. “I said yesterday I wanted to sleep on it since this is our first millage rate. We are striving to produce the lowest millage rate possible and I would like to point out that this is a good two point mills lower than the county proposed unincorporated rate.”
Before approving the property tax rate, Williams said she wanted the confidence that Brookhaven would still have a rainy day fund. Williams believes the revenues coming in look strong and will provide enough of a cushion for the city.
With the new rate, a house valued at $200,000 will pay a yearly tax of $171 to the city. This tax provides the funds for the annual city budget of $16.465 million.
The budget, passed in March, includes money for the start-up costs for a new Brookhaven Police Department and to repay the county for having police patrol the city until Brookhaven police start patrols July 31.