Residents of DeKalb cities may pay pension tax

Legislation requiring residents of newly formed cities to make DeKalb County pension payments still has a chance of approval by the Georgia General Assembly this year.

Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, the sponsor of the House Bill 711, said residents of Brookhaven, Dunwoody, Tucker and recently annexed areas have an ongoing obligation to pay a portion of the county's pension liability.

After cities were created, part of residents' property taxes that previously paid for county services instead went to their municipalities. The county had used some of that money to pay for pension debts.

If the proposal becomes law, taxes on a $250,000 home in Dunwoody would rise by about $45 per year, according to preliminary estimates. Residents of Brookhaven would have a lower burden of about $4 annually. Homeowners in Tucker, which will incorporate this summer, would pay a smaller amount.

The different amounts are based on how long the cities have been incorporated without paying to the county and other factors.

“If Dunwoody, Brookhaven and Tucker do nothing to pay for their legal obligations, they are in effect skating away from a debt they owe and overburdening the citizens who remain in unincorporated DeKalb,” said Oliver, D-Decatur.

Dunwoody residents would pay roughly $2.3 million annually, and Brookhaven homeowners would contribute $200,000, estimates show.

DeKalb Commissioner Nancy Jester said she opposes the proposal, saying it’s discriminatory against newly formed cities.

“It is punitive, based on false assumptions, and is not congruent with the facts,” Jester wrote in an email to constituents. “It is a bailout that would allow DeKalb County to continue poor fiscal management.”

HB711 failed to clear the House before this week's deadline for bills to pass at least one chamber, but Oliver said she hopes the legislation's language can be added to Senate Bill 375, which would create a stricter process for forming new cities.