Committees getting to work in Brookhaven

Plans for the new city of Brookhaven are coming together, as committees that will research and suggest action in key areas are slowly rolling out public meetings.

Only the police committee met in the last week, attracting about 15 residents to its inaugural session. A similar committee on parks has yet to meet but already has 64 residents interested in participating, officials said.

“There has been a lot of work and analysis already,” said Ben Vinson, chair of the Governor’s Commission on Brookhaven. “We really appreciate the interest.”

The commission is serving as a transitional government until voters can choose from a crowded field of 25 candidates — 21 alone for the four City Council seats — for the city’s first mayor and council on Nov. 6.

The compressed timeline for committees is especially important given that, with so many candidates, a quorum of the council may not be seated until after a Dec. 4 runoff election. Brookhaven officially becomes a city on Dec. 17.

There are 10 committees, from zoning to facilities to executive search. Each of the committees is co-chaired by a member of the governor’s commission and a citizen appointed by Vinson. Vinson is also in the process of nominating an expert in each area, to round out the committees to three members.

The committees plan to meet with similar task forces organized by Brookhaven Yes, the pro-cityhood group, to collect information already assembled.

However, with 45 percent of voters opposing the new city, Vinson said opponents and skeptics are encouraged to attend committee meetings to offer their input as well.

Like other new cities, Brookhaven is expected to rely on private contractors to provide most government services after bidding on contracts. The city itself is expected to hire just four senior administrators — a city manager, finance director, clerk and attorney — as well as its own police department.

J.D. Clockadale, the governor’s commission member who helps lead the police committee, said the city expects to contract with either DeKalb County or another government for police services for several months after the official startup date.

Subcommittees have begun examining specific areas, such as equipment and staffing. The committee will not accept applications for chief or officer, though, until a council is seated — further lengthening the time needed to contract for police protection.

Commissioners pledged to update meeting announcements at the website, www.brookhavencommission.com, and on the commission’s Facebook page of the same name.

The parks committee will hold an orientation at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Cowart/Ashford Dunwoody YMCA. A tentative meeting of the project management/communications committee is planned for 2 p.m. Saturday at the commission’s main office, 2536 Caldwell Road.

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