The meeting, which is open to the public, starts at 10 a.m. in Room 450. It will be the committee’s third. The Carl Vinson Institute will make a presentation on annexations and franchise fees.
At its second meeting, held on Nov. 8 at the Maloof Auditorium, county officials discussed the impact a new city of DeKalb could have on the county’s revenues and the growth of its cities.
Those speaking at the meeting included commissioners and county officials. DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis did not attend.
Commissioner Lee May, who was one of four commissioners in attendance, said the flurry of city creations and annexations has made it increasingly hard to plan.
“It is not just about preserving revenue, but comprehensive planning for the county as a whole,” said May, who represents District 5.
He pointed out that Brookhaven will be able to acquire county parks for about $100 per acre.
District 4 Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton said a city of DeKalb deserves consideration.
“The entire county planned and put investments in infrastructure and then for a small group to take it without compensation for the county is not fair,” she said.
She added that it is not fair for the cities to get 43 percent of the HOST revenues.
“We can’t let a few people destroy one of the best counties,” Barnes Sutton said.
County Economic Development Director Charles Whatley said that the rest of the world is going regional while DeKalb is “going splintered.”
He said the proliferation of cities will make it difficult to achieve economy of scale in planning.
District 2 Commissioner Jeff Rader said he opposed creating a city of DeKalb.
“What would be the main street and common interest,” he asked. “We won’t lose the county government. We will gain another layer of government.”
During the meeting, residents learned that the creation of a city of DeKalb might not stop the formation of other cities.
State Sen. Steve Henson said the Legislature could create a city within a city by redoing the charter.
“If there is created a city of DeKalb, the Legislature could create a city of Tucker,” he said.
Joel Gottlieb, the county’s chief financial officer, said the new city of Brookhaven will cost the county $22 million in revenues.
“Due to Dunwoody, we lost $18 million,” Gottlieb said.
Chief Operating Officer Richard Stogner said the losses will be reduced to $15 million because of reductions in county services to the newly incorporated areas.
Gottlieb said: “When Dunwoody was created, police officers and equipment in that area were redeployed to the rest of the county. The net savings was not as large because we redeployed them to hot spots in the county.”
Public Safety Director William Miller and Gottlieb said the county has to provide special police services such as helicopters and cannot bill the cities in an emergency to recover the cost of those services. They also pointed out that the cost of funding the courts and jail does not decline when a city is created and county revenue is reduced.
A 2008 Carl Vinson Institute study estimated Brookhaven’s revenue would be $25 million, most of which would be diverted from the county. It also estimated that Brookhaven would get $3 million to $4 million from franchise fees on utilities.
Two years earlier when 90 percent of the county was unincorporated, a 2006 Carl Vinson Institute study predicted that a city of DeKalb would get about $30 million from franchise fees, which are not available to counties.
Interim Planning Director Gary Cornell said Brookhaven will reduce the county’s revenue from permits and zoning variance fees by $1.5 million per year.
Stogner said there could not be a consolidated city-county government in DeKalb like those in Augusta, Athens, Savannah and Columbus because there are several cities in DeKalb. He said there would be elected officials for both the city and county of DeKalb.
If the unincorporated area is made into a city of DeKalb, the county would resemble Los Angeles, which has a city and county by the same name, Stogner said.
Los Angeles County was created in 1850 a few months before the city of Los Angeles. Since then, 97 other cities were chartered inside the county and 10 cities were consolidated with the city of Los Angeles.