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Brookhaven passes first budget, battles backlash
by Noreen Cochran
April 03, 2013 10:56 AM | 1013 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Brookhaven property owners may see their taxes decrease after DeKalb County finishes totaling up what their land and buildings are worth, a task that could last till June.

But as of last week’s city council meeting, the millage rate is 3.35 — the maximum allowed by the new city’s charter.

Mayor J. Max Davis said the tax rate is just a “placeholder” used to estimate $13 million of the revenue in the city’s $16.4 million budget, which was approved unanimously.

“Before we can set the millage rate we have to get information from the county. At that time, this summer, we can work at getting our millage rate below our cap,” he said.

“The millage rate is going to change this summer. It’s going to go down.”

Tax payments are due in October.

Lowering taxes was the point of a March 12 letter, distributed to the 100 meeting attendees, from District 80 State Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-Brookhaven, to Attorney General Sam Olens.

Jacobs said the county used a loophole to raise city taxes in 2012.

“DeKalb County officials have stated that the Board of Commissioners was not required to advertise a millage rate increase and hold three public hearings because the increased millage rates were for designated ‘special district millage’ and not for ‘general maintenance and operations,’” he wrote.

Following the money, Jacobs said, found it in the general fund, in violation of state law.

Davis referred to the letter during the meeting, saying the county also “took money out of the police reserve and put it into the general fund.”

He addressed an anonymous smear campaign, which alleged the city had an irresponsible budget and was planning to raise taxes.

“Hundreds of calls we’ve received in the last 24 hours are based on some assumptions that were put on a flyer and on a ‘robocall’ that weren’t necessarily true,” Davis said.

He apologized for the confusion.

Interim Finance Director Chris Pike said the vote is not the last look at the first budget.

“Over the course of the year, you will encounter unanticipated issues and amend this budget,” he said.

Expenditures include $4 million for finance and administration, $1.8 million for public works, $1.4 million for community development, $428,000 for parks and recreation, $630,000 for municipal court, $1.1 million for the city council, manager, clerk and attorney, and $2.6 million for the city’s future police department.

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