Brookhaven Mayor J. Max Davis has submitted a $15.7 million budget for the City Council to review. The budget will cover the day-to-day operations and the start-up costs for the new city. Reporter Newspapers asked Davis a few questions about his budget proposal for 2013. Here are his responses:
Q. The Carl Vinson Institute’s feasibility study proposed a $22 million budget for the city of Brookhaven. Why is this budget less?
A. The feasibility study was conducted by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government in order to determine the ongoing revenue stream and estimated use of those funds, and it was never intended to estimate the first year’s revenues. In fact, the feasibility report even disclosed as much. Just as Dunwoody’s budget grew from under $15 million in its first year, ours too will grow as revenues start coming in on their regular cycles in our next two years.
Q. Explain the $2.2 million reserve for police services. Is that to pay DeKalb County for police services or to start a Brookhaven police department? When do you expect the Brookhaven Police Department will start operating?
A. Regarding police, we are obligated for public safety costs owed to DeKalb County. We do not know exactly what those costs will be, but we have budgeted police costs that we feel will sufficiently address our interim public safety needs.
As we progress through our first year, the city manager will appoint a police chief. That vital position will be relied upon to provide professional advice for staffing levels, service levels and costs necessary to begin our own police force later this summer.
While many citizens, including each council member, have varying opinions as to what our police department will ultimately look like, wisdom dictates we patiently wait for our own police chief who, along with experience and training only a chief would have, will be best qualified to provide the council with a professional recommendation for our consideration. As a result, we have reserved a significant portion of our budget to reallocate at a later time once we make a decision on all future 2013 needs of the city, including the police department. Furthermore, as our budget matures to its normal level after 2013, we will routinely revisit our staffing levels based on overall needs of the city and our available resources.
Q. Does the money appropriated for parks and recreation include money to buy the parks from DeKalb County? What else is envisioned with the parks funds for 2013?
A. DeKalb County still owns and operates the parks located within Brookhaven. Accordingly, they are responsible for all assets they own until the date stated when we notify them of our intentions to assume ownership. City Council currently plans to start that process in the late fall.
Beginning in the second half of 2013, we will identify a parks manager who will initiate the parks master plan process. We may or may not finish that process in 2013, as a lot of research and public input is involved in determining the direction we will take as a city relating to our parks system.
The parks budget includes half a year for a parks manager, the majority of funds necessary to complete a parks master plan, and a month of operational costs once we take over the DeKalb parks located within Brookhaven.