LaVista Hills says financial study shows surplus, county says new cities could cost $17 million

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt May 15, 2015
DeKalb County Georgia. Source: Google Maps.

DeKalb County Georgia. Source: Google Maps.

This story has been updated. 

LaVista Hills YES has concluded its latest financial feasibility study and determined the city could operate with a $1.7 million annual surplus.

Meanwhile, the county is releasing data showing that the creation of the proposed new cities of Tucker and LaVista Hills would cost the county $17 million in tax revenue.

LaVista Hills revamped its study after last-minute map changes at the state Legislature. A special legislative panel attempted to the boundaries back in December, but that didn’t stop a few final tweaks before both bills passed. Gov. Nathan Deal signed both bills this week.

The new LaVista Hills study was conducted by the Carl Vinson Institute at the University of Georgia.

“The UGA analysis confirms what we already knew, that LaVista Hills will provide increased services with no new taxes,” Allen Venet, co-chair of LaVista Hills YES said in a press release. “UGA completed as conservative and accurate a study as possible, and they still project a surplus of more than a million and a half dollars every year.”

According to a summary of the study:

– Total annual revenues projected to be $36,903,971 and total annual expenses $34,488,546.

– A resident population estimated at 67,446.

– 439 lane miles of well-maintained roads, regularly repaved and not just patched.

– Over 50 acres of well-maintained parks.

The city of Tucker is also updated its feasibility study, which showed the city could operate with an $800,000 surplus.

Meanwhile, the county is warning taxpayers in the county of what they stand to lose if voters approve both cities, which are on the ballot this November.

According to a financial analysis provided by DeKalb County, LaVista Hills and Tucker could cost the county $17.3 million in revenue. It’s worth noting here that the county’s numbers include the cost of Tucker providing police services, but Tucker says it will still use the county’s police services. If that holds true, then the cost to the county will be closer to $13 million.

Both of the cityhood movement said the county’s numbers show a shifting of taxpayer money toward leaner, more efficient services for residents.

“There is no question that the residents of every city in DeKalb pay some of their local taxes to their city. So, obviously, creation of new cities like LaVista Hills and Tucker mean that more funds will shift away from the inefficient county bureaucracy to more efficient city governments,” Venet said. “More efficient, more responsive, local government is a gain, not a loss, for everyone in DeKalb.”

Venet said it is “wrong to focus on only one side of a two-sided equation.”

“Revenues shift from the County to the new cities, but the cost of providing critical local government services shifts at the same time,” he said. “Many opponents of cityhood focus only of the revenue numbers, but a true, fair, analysis must also look at the savings to the county since so many services are provided by the cities, new and old. Also remember that most property taxes continue to flow to the County schools and the County, not to the cities. Therefore, as cities, new and old, continue to do a better job of fostering smart economic growth, leading to increased tax revenues, those increased taxes help all residents of DeKalb County.”

Michelle Penkava of Tucker 2015 said, “What the citizens of Tucker are seeking is an opportunity to be part of the decision making process influencing quality of life and economic development matters such as planning and zoning, code enforcement, and parks and recreation.”

“Our cityhood model will reroute property taxes paid to DeKalb County for those particular services to the City of Tucker,” Penkava said. “The majority of these dollars are already being allocated by DeKalb County to provide services to the Tucker community, but incorporating would allow Tucker citizens to determine how they will be allocated.  Through cityhood we will ensure the community has dedicated personnel to address local concerns and promote healthy growth that will benefit not only Tucker, but all of DeKalb County.

“We want to ensure that the county not only remains viable, but continues to prosper and grow to benefit all DeKalb County citizens.”

Read more: The financial analysis on the creation of the new cities of Tucker and LaVista Hills, provided by DeKalb county. 

LaVista Hills Economic Impact3.compressed Tucker Economic Impact3.compressed

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

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