Brookhaven voters go to the polls Nov. 7 to help decide whether to impose a countywide special local option sales tax that could add another $47 million to the city’s coffers over the next six years.
At a Sept. 19 special called meeting, the City Council voted unanimously to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with DeKalb County to show support for the referendum on the proposed Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or SPLOST.
Brookhaven’s share of the increase in the sales tax — to 8 percent from 7 percent, if it is approved — would be slightly more than $47 million over six years.
The council agreed that $15 million would go toward public safety facilities and equipment; $14 million would go toward road pavement management; another $11.1 million would be used for transportation improvements; and $7 million would go to maintenance of existing capital assets.
The county decides how much each incorporated city receives based on 2016 population numbers.
Specific projects on where the money will be spent will be determined later, but state law requires most of the money go toward transportation.
DeKalb County also is asking the cities to kick in extra funding to cover Fire and Rescue Department costs, but Brookhaven has not yet decided if it will do so.
The council also approved as part of the agreement the authority to issue general obligation bonds up to $34,295,000 over the six years of the SPLOST. The amounts of the bonds approved are $5.5 million for 2019; $5.59 million for 2020; $5.67 million for 2021; $5.755 million for 2022; $5.845 million for 2023; and $5.93 million for 2024.
But before the SPLOST kicks in, voters must also approve another ballot measure that would replace the Homestead Option Sales Tax (HOST) with an Equalized Homestead Option Sales Tax (EHOST) to put all homeowners in cities and unincorporated DeKalb on equal footing, according to county officials.
If the SPLOST is approved, DeKalb would receive $388 million over six years and nearly 60 percent of that total is to go toward transportation projects, with $151 million for road resurfacing, according to DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond.
Money would also go toward new fire stations and police cars as well as renovations of parks, libraries, senior centers and health centers.
“This is a transformational moment for DeKalb County,” Thurmond said in a prepared statement. “The county and its 12 cities are in agreement on a plan to work together for all of DeKalb citizens. With the support of the DeKalb legislative delegation, which passed enabling SPLOST legislation earlier this year, we will be able to improve the quality of life for all residents.”
State Sen. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody) worked with Thurmond on the SPLOST bill so that the sales tax increase would not be tallied on food. Millar’s bill also prohibits any money going to MARTA.