The $40 million parks bond referendum going to Brookhaven voters in November was a main topic of conversation at an Aug. 16 town hall.
Mayor John Ernst held his monthly town hall at City Hall with several department heads and took questions on many topics from about a dozen people gathered. Several questions about the parks bond referendum that will be on the Nov. 6 ballot were asked, including if the parks bond would be audited.
City Manager Christian Sigman explained the city’s Audit Committee would be auditing the parks bond funds to ensure money is spent as required. Outside auditors will also be used.
When asked about the city budgeting money for invasive plant species removal, Sigman explained $1 million is included in the parks bond for permanent removal of plants such as kudzu. Such plants must be dug up to be permanently removed.
If approved, the $40 million in parks bond funding would go toward fulfilling about 50 percent of the city’s parks master plan projects. City officials say they have no dedicated source of funding for parks capital projects after HOST money was eliminated as part of the SPLOST referendum approved by DeKalb County voters last year. HOST money was also so minimal that major projects could not be completed, city officials said.
SPLOST funds are dedicated essentially toward transportation, such as paving roads. Spending on capital projects, such as parks master plans, is prohibited. Sigman said at the town hall that if the SPLOST comes up for a vote to be renewed in six years, the city will work toward removing that restrictive language in the bill to allow for funding of parks projects.
The city of Brookhaven’s website now includes a page dedicated to providing information about the million parks bond referendum.