Does cityhood allow us to escape the problems of DeKalb County government?
No. Even with a city, most of our services will come from the county. These services include schools, sanitation, water and sewer, fire/EMS, libraries, elections, courts, jails, the animal shelter, family and children’s services, and senior affairs. Cityhood does not address our problems in county government, since they will still provide a large number of key services.
What does cityhood cost?
The Carl Vinson Institute Study projects that the overhead costs of new city administration will cost around $6.5 million. About 20% of the tax dollars we pay for police, roads, and parks will be siphoned off to pay for redundant politicians and bureaucrats. And costs could grow; in Brookhaven, the 2015 budget is already 25% higher than what the original CVI study projected it would be.
It is even worse when you look at what specific costs have grown the most, when you look at the Brookhaven 2015 budget.
Projected CVI City Council Budget: $215,093
2015 Budget: $353,741 +64%
Projected CVI City Manager Budget: $408,260
2015 City Manager Budget: $1,087,103 +166%
Projected Legal Budget: $280,372
2015 Legal Budget: $650,000 +132%
Will cityhood increase taxes?
Cities charge additional fees, such as franchise fees on utility bills, that residents of unincorporated areas don’t pay. Property tax bills have also increase significantly in cities. Brookhaven property taxes are up 26% in just two years.
Do new cities have lower crime?
No. A 2012 study in Dunwoody found that the small police force there was ‘often overwhelmed’, and that 25% of calls were not getting timely responses. Dunwoody police statistics show that property crimes are up 30% since the first full year of their department in 2010. In 2014, only 10% of burglaries and 14% of motor vehicle thefts were solved.
In addition, City police forces lack many resources, such as helicopters, bomb squads, domestic violence specialists, and K9 units.
Will a city acquire more park land?
The proposed city has so little room in its budget that there would not be the resources to acquire new parks–the addition of the 21acre Briarlake Forest alone reduces the ‘surplus’ of the city by 15%.
To make things worse, many of the parks heavily used by residents of this area,
such as Mason Mill and Medlock, were left out of the city boundaries and would
no longer be supported by our tax dollars. Friends of the Parks groups would
lose the support of Park Pride.
Will zoning decisions improve?
It would be nice if a new layer of government could guarantee us that there would never be zoning decisions we don’t like.
Unfortunately, if we look at the experience of other new cities, the financial pressures of supporting a new layer government have more often than not encouraged city officials to allow extraordinary increases in density, over the strenuous objections of neighbors. And it’s far worse than reductions in setbacks.
In Brookhaven, the city council unanimously approved a 1.13 million square foot office building/300-unit apartment complex by Montgomery Elementary School, over the objections of the neighborhood:
The developer’s attorney said, after the approval: “I’ll bet you, those that were registered to vote, when you had a vote on cityhood, voted for the city. They are having a hard time making up their minds, whether they really want to be in a city or not, because they still want to maintain land use decisions based on a suburban mentality, not on an urban mentality.”
Sandy Springs is similarly overbuilding, with little thought to the consequence. The pleas of homeowners associations have been ignored.