To follow is a open letter to the neighborhood authored by LaVista Park resident Steve Osunsami who lives on Beech Haven. We appreciate Steve’s time, effort, and interest to express his opinion and to allow us to publish it on Leaf Talk.
The Case For Brookhaven
Let me first start by talking a little trash about Atlanta. Some very reasonable people, who I love dearly and will always respect greatly, are about to tell you we should join Atlanta. They’re arguing that this is good for home values, mainly because we get better schools.
How quickly we forget about the Atlanta cheating scandal.
Today, I talked with nearly a dozen parents in the neighborhood, and not one of them is hoping we join Atlanta. Two of these families already send their kids to private schools – they wouldn’t send their kids to nearby Briar Vista, no matter what school district it wound up in, period.
From yet another parent:
“I certainly don’t like the idea of annexing (into) city of Atlanta, paying higher taxes, and still ending up with Briar Vista Elementary.”
Another important point: at a meeting a few weeks ago, attended by school officials from both Atlanta and DeKalb, they told us that parents with kids at a school that moved districts would be given waivers to keep their kids at their school, for a negotiated period of time.
Big issue: those higher taxes.
If you are a senior citizen on a fixed income in this neighborhood, getting by with the help of DeKalb County’s generous tax break for seniors, prepare for some real pain. In extreme cases, your yearly tax bill could rise as much as three thousand dollars if we join Atlanta.
Friends across the neighborhood who support joining Atlanta must have money to burn, because for our home, we’re looking at a -minimum- 600 dollar a year increase in taxes if we join Atlanta, (based on calculations from DeKalb and Atlanta). And, if we were to get reassessed based on some of the sales we’re seeing lately, that figure could jump to 1000 dollars additional per year. This is -real money-, folks. Real. Out of your pocket.
I encourage you to use the following calculators to see approximately how much more your family will pay.
Brookhaven, the new city, or remaining in DeKalb:
Let me be clear. I’m not loving any of these choices. I would prefer to stay unincorporated DeKalb. But events are telling us that wish is not going to come true. Brookhaven keeps our taxes lower, keeps us in DeKalb County, and gives us a police station on Buford Highway that’s already closer to our homes in LaVista Park than it is to many homes in Brookhaven.
The new city, Lavista Hills, is a gamble. It would instantly become the largest city in DeKalb County, with some 72-thousand residents. It could be a success, yes. But currently the effort is quite ambitious, caught up in a fight with Tucker over who gets Northlake Mall. And when it comes to police, road, and other important services, I’d rather not imagine how the new city plans to protect my home and get past its growing pains.
For friends not completely up on this complicated mess of an issue, Brookhaven will only become a choice for us if/once Brookhaven agrees to let our neighbors at Executive Park and Children’s Healthcare join their city. That is expected to happen soon. And when it does, all those neighboring businesses in what was Loehman’s Plaza, along with all the new industrial construction/demolition taking place, will become part of the city of Brookhaven.
If we end up having any concern with anything going on over there, no one over in Brookhaven has to listen, no matter how much we yell – unless we join Brookhaven.
I’m noticing that many of us for Brookhaven are recent Atlanta transplants, who moved away from the nonsense on purpose. Some of you forget. Whatever panache that comes with having an Atlanta address isn’t really worth it. Trust us.