DeKalb news: Brookhaven voters approve tax hike for parks upgrades

Murphey Candler Park Nature Trail is 2.2 miles in Brookhaven.
Murphey Candler Park Nature Trail is 2.2 miles in Brookhaven.

Credit: Murphey Candler Park Facebook page

Credit: Murphey Candler Park Facebook page

Property taxes are set to increase in Brookhaven now that voters have approved borrowing $40 million to upgrade the city's parks.

The average homeowner will pay about $98 each year for 30 years to pay off the bond approved by the Election Day referendum, the city said.

VIDEO: More on elections

Highlights of Election Night 2018

The money will finance new or renovated amenities like pools, community centers and mixed-use trails at six parks. There will be additional security features, wifi and invasive plant removal at all 11 Brookhaven parks.

“The residents of Brookhaven have delivered a clear mandate for us to follow through with our City founders’ vision of a top-notch park system that can be enjoyed in the near-term,” Mayor John Ernst said in a news release. “With the funding in place, we can now make it happen.”

Some parks advocates launched a campaign to oppose the bond referendum, saying the amount was too large and that the city should find other revenue sources besides a property tax increase.

But Brookhaven voters sided with bond proponents, who argued the tax increase was worth the long-term benefits of having newer and more accessible parks.

“Great parks not only will improve our neighborhoods -- they will improve our economy, raising home values and attracting those seeking a livable community in which to establish their home or business,” said J.D. Clockadale, co-chair of the Yes for Brookhaven Parks campaign, in a news release.

City leaders also argued that although the bond will increase taxes, most Brookhaven property owners saw their bills go down by hundreds of dollars this year. In two years, tax bills are expected to decrease another $69 on average in Brookhaven when an existing DeKalb County parks bond is paid off.

Here is how the $40 million Brookhaven parks bond will be spent:

  • Briarwood Park, $7 million for a pool, renovating the community center, new trails and renovated parking;
  • Brookhaven Park, $6 million for multi-purpose fields, a new playground, trails and more restrooms;
  • Lynwood Park, $11 million for a new pool with a lazy river, pavilion and parking renovations;
  • Murphey Candler Park, $10 million for a community building, lake dredging, trail and lakeside boardwalk;
  • Ashford Park, $1.9 million for improvements that include a new splash pad and picnic area;
  • Blackburn Park, $1.3 million for fencing and parking renovations; and
  • Systemwide improvements, $2.5 million for security, invasive plant removal and project management.[Summary]