Officials say city will not raise taxes or cut service

Brookhaven city officials are united in denying a statement made by a council member that the city could raise taxes or cut services because of a budget shortfall.

In an email sent Feb. 25, District 2 city councilman Jim Eyre said Brookhaven Mayor J. Max Davis’s proposed budget will result in a revenue shortfall for 2013.

“The dilemma we have is that the [city of Brookhaven] revenue for 2013 is substantially lower than it will be in later years as the timing of the city start up as detailed in our city charter does not allow us to collect $7 million to $9 million in taxes and fees until 2014,” he said. “Therefore, we are facing a one year budget shortfall that can only be made up in one of two ways – a property tax increase as noted above or cuts in services to be provided by the [city of Brookhaven] during our first year of operations.

When asked for a response to Eyre’s statement, Davis and the city council, including Eyre, decided to answer in a unified voice.

“Council and even staff firmly believe that over the long term, the incorporation of Brookhaven will lead to higher service levels without it costing the citizens more than unincorporated residents pay,” Davis said. “The residents would be best served through adherence to a long-term vision and plan.”

In January, Davis proposed a $15,715,000 budget for the 2013 fiscal year. In a memorandum sent to the city council on Jan. 25, Davis said the budget anticipates enough revenue to support a “responsive and transparent” organization and provides economic stability to create a well-maintained, safe and financially sound city.

The proposed budget includes funds that will be used for such service enhancements as parks and recreation, community development, public works and the start of the police force in 2013, which is expected to be budgeted at $2.25 million.

The budget also recommends remaining within the 3.35 millage rate cap.

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