The possible incorporation of Brookhaven could cost more than 300 DeKalb County employees their jobs.
DeKalb County, already trying to determine the effect annexations in Avondale Estates, Chamblee, Decatur and Doraville may have on its bottom line, would lose between $15 million and $28.5 million in revenue.
That’s according to a DeKalb Board of Commissioners’ analysis of a report by the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute.
“It is actually past time to begin to deal with the some of the concerns we have been having regarding the possible incorporation of…Brookhaven,” said DeKalb Commissioner Lee May during a special meeting of the board’s finance committee on April 11.
“We learned a lot with what happened with Dunwoody and what we should have learned the most is that we have to plan for the worst-case scenario in our budget,” May said.
Of the county’s $559 million current budget, only three funds, accounting for 26.2 percent of the budget, would be affected by incorporation.
“We’re not talking about the entire DeKalb budget being affected,” May said.
Using the mid-range $21.8 million estimate of reductions, the commissioners’ report stated the county would have to cut 233 police positions.
The report also suggests another 74 parks, roads and transportation workers would lose their jobs. Twenty-two positions would be cut from the county’s unincorporated fund, which pays the salaries for recorder’s court, planning department, business license workers and DCTV.
During the meeting, commissioners called on the administration of DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis to develop aplan to deal with the possible incorporation.
“It’s seems it has not been taken as a major issue for the administration,” said Commissioner Elaine Boyer. “The discussion needs to begin and it’s unfortunate that they have not begun.”
“We see it looming,” Boyer said. “Whether or not [Brookhaven] passes is not the issue. It’s ‘why are we not planning for it?’”
Joel Gottlieb, the county’s finance director, said county department heads have been meeting “every week on this issue.”
“We have been aware of it,” Gottlieb told the commissioners. “We are working on it and have been working on it for quite some time. The CEO plans to provide you with more details shortly.
“Brookhaven is just one part of the overall plan that we are making,” Gottlieb said.
In March, the Georgia General Assembly approved the annexations by Avondale Estates and Decatur of “islands”—small unincorporated areas surrounded by cities.
Those annexations will have a small impact on the county budget, but possible annexations by Doraville and Chamblee, which will go to voters, are also “in the mix,” Gottlieb said.
Boyer said she is frustrated by what she believes is the administration’s lack of planning.
“We don’t even have a skeleton outline,” Boyer said. “That’s unacceptable for a government this size that we don’t have an outline or a plan.
“There’s nothing for me to look at, read, study, examine,” Boyer said. “There should have been a plan once the legislature…passed the Brookhaven legislation.”
May said the commissioners’ finance committee will keep the proposed Brookhaven incorporation on the agenda of every meeting until it is resolved.
“We’re asking for the administration to come forward with a strategic plan and how they plan to handle the potential of incorporation,” May said. “We need to know the direction, at least, and not receive the information at the eleventh hour.”