Emails show doubts about LaVista Hills’ finances

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt September 16, 2015
LaVista Hills supporters addressed a packed house at Briarcliff United Methodist Church on Aug. 24. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

LaVista Hills supporters addressed a packed house at Briarcliff United Methodist Church on Aug. 24. File Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

The Georgia Legislature at one time considered financial viability to be a crucial test. Groups looking to form new cities had to pass it before any new city could be pitched to voters.

This year, the Legislature strayed from that standard, and waived the requirement for a financial feasibility study. The study for the proposed city of LaVista Hills wasn’t completed until May, after bills enabling a referendum for the proposed cities of Tucker and LaVista Hills were approved by the General Assembly.

Emails forwarded to Decaturish show supporters of LaVista Hills had concerns about the soundness of their study, concerns that LaVista Hills Yes President Allen Venet say have been put to rest. The emails were obtained via an open records request filed by DeKalb Strong, a group that opposes cityhood.

The Carl Vinson Institute at the University of Georgia conducted the LaVista Hills feasibility study and is standing by its conclusion that the city would be viable.

“We are putting our faith in the Carl Vinson Institute,” Venet said. “We don’t really know what the future will hold, but we do have a couple of things that we do know. The first is there’s no question that the city will be solvent in that it will spend less than it brings in.”

DeKalb Strong President Marjorie Snook said the emails reveal that cityhood supporters shared the concerns of cityhood opponents.

“Internally, it seems like cityhood proponents have the same concerns about the city’s feasibility, and the possibility of tax increases, as others have expressed,” Snook said. “They even go so far as to discuss running to the legislature to get the millage cap raised as soon as the city passes. Proponents want this city at any cost, even if it will raise taxes.”

The proposed city is on the ballot for Nov. 3. If approved, it would create a new municipality in DeKalb County with a population of more than 65,000 people. The CVI report measured the city’s ability to provide services to those residents.

The CVI study relied upon the county millage rate of 7.64. But the LaVista Hills enabling legislation caps the millage at 5 mills. The concerns about the financial implications of the study using the 7.64 millage rate were first raised by Russell Carleton, a DeKalb County resident and researcher. LaVista Hills supporters have dismissed him as an unqualified analyst who is allied with DeKalb Strong.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution conducted its own analysis and concluded that instead of running a surplus of $1.7 million as the study claimed, LaVista Hills is likely to run a deficit of $114,000.

Economic forecasting, of course, isn’t prophecy. Its accuracy depends on the underlying assumptions and the methodologies used. CVI says Carleton was comparing “apples to oranges” because county millage rates differ from city rates.

LaVista Hills has dismissed Carleton as a “baseball statistician” unqualified to make such judgments. The emails show he was hitting close to home for some in the LaVista Hills camp.

After Carleton sent an email with his observations to Ted Baggett, an associate director with CVI, Venet scheduled a conference call with LaVista Hills supporters and CVI to discuss the issues Carleton raised.

When Decaturish contacted Venet in May to ask about similar points Carleton raised in an email to us, Venet forwarded along a short message from Baggett to LaVista Hills Yes.

“A county millage rate is not equivalent to a city millage rate in this context,” Baggett wrote. “A city millage rate does not come with the HOST county property tax rollback or the applicable county homestead exemptions. Thus a lower city millage rate will generate more revenue than DeKalb County’s millage rate. It compares apples to oranges.”

That explanation didn’t satisfy Don Broussard, another member of LaVista Hills Yes. Broussard sent an email asking for a more detailed rebuttal of Carleton’s claims.

“CVI needs to give us a detailed line-by-line calculation/explanation of the Millage rates and HOST factors used in our $15,000 study,” Broussard wrote in an email dated May 16. “A four sentence reply by Ted – one of which is the ‘apples to oranges’ cliche – is NOT adequate to answer our critics – nor answer our OWN questions about the validity of the study’s numbers.”

Herman Lorenz, another member of LaVista Hills Yes, was concerned about the implications for the tax rates in the proposed city.

“Not to muddy the waters even more,” Lorenz wrote on May 15. “But now that we have the real facts, another objection is possible. In 2014, 5 mills without homestead adjustment is equivalent to 14.36 mills with the homestead adjustment. That compares to the county charge of 7.64 mills. So a raw comparison is that we’re raising the property tax, not lowering it. The host credit reduced the gross tax by 54 percent. In my case, this will be an increase of about 50 percent for city services and police (because there are also other adjustments). Others probably should check their 2014 tax bills to see if I’m right.”

“So the less we say about this the better,” Lorenz added.

In an email sent the evening of May 15, Venet wrote it had been “a roller coaster of a few days regarding the CVI study.”

“And I, for one, do not like roller coasters,” he said.

Venet wrote that CVI had declared LaVista Hills feasible.

“Folks who oppose us will try to nitpick, but as long as we can say that we’ve been judged viable by an organization with more experience and more expertise than (DeKalb Strong), or any journalist, I think that we are on solid footing,” Venet wrote. “I am not saying that CVI is infallible (they are not), or even that they are correct in this case (I cannot say). I am saying that any such prediction by its nature is very complex and involves countless variables and assumptions. The ‘rules’ of creating a city say that CVI (or GSU) must pronounce the city feasible, and they have done exactly that.”

He said that “we know intuitively that LaVista Hills is viable.”

“If our community does not have the tax base to be a city, then very few communities are going to be viable,” Venet continued. “Everyone who knows our area knows that we have the financial strength to be an economically viable city. Experience of the other new cities shows that we will not need to raise taxes. It is ironic that DS is seemingly ready to attack us simultaneously for having a disproportionately strong tax base which should be shared with less wealthy parts of the county, and for having a tax base too weak to succeed. We can honestly counter both arguments.”

But, he acknowledged a potential issue with the city’s tax rate.

“The one potential problem which has (hopefully had) the potential to be our Achilles Heel is a suggestion that the tax cap in the charter was set too low,” Venet wrote. “We all know that the intent was to cap taxes at the current rate, but if the language of the charter is wrong because it uses an outdated millage rate, we have a very big problem. On the one hand I suspect that this could be ‘fixed’ in January, but it would make it much harder to win a referendum in November. Happily, Ted countered the DS argument. The actual explanation of how the rates work is mired in the complexity already noted.”

With that, Venet hoped the matter would be put behind LaVista Hills. And it was until the AJC published its story on Sept. 14.

Venet told Decaturish on Sept. 15 that if indeed the tax cap is too low in the charter, it can be adjusted.

“Another point is that no one has ever tried to sell the idea of LaVista Hills as a mechanism for reducing taxes,” Venet said. “What we have pledged and what we stick to is that the city will not raise taxes. If the cap has been set at an improperly low level, which we do not think is correct, but if it is correct, well, then that needs to be fixed.”

He said during the conference call, CVI allayed the concerns LaVista Hills supporters had about Carleton’s observations.

“They assured us he was not correctly interpreting the way tax laws work in Georgia and LaVista Hills was in fact viable and that’s their conclusion and they are sticking with their conclusion,” he said.

Read more: Here are the email exchanges, provided to Decaturish. 


About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

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  • Marjorie Snook

    How can Allen say that no one has ever stated cityhood is a way to lower taxes? ‘Lower taxes’ is the first bullet point on the Alliance’s handout. What back-pedaling….

    • Amy Velez

      Didn’t Dan just say these e-mails pre-date LaVista Hills Alliance? How can something said before the Alliance was even created be construed as “back-pedaling” based on an Alliance handout?

      Bottom line on the e-mails is that LaVista Hills Yes showed concern when issues with the CVI study were brought to their attention. They followed up with CVI and asked questions. As I said above, CVI should be the one in the hot seat.

      • Marjorie Snook

        Allen made that statement today in response to this story.

        Many cityhood proponents in fact have said cities lower taxes. To state that’s never been part of the argument is not at all true. To be fair, Allen has been much more direct and open on this topic than most people (such as Steve Schultz, who was telling people they would get an ‘instant tax cut’ if the city formed).

  • Tom B. Doolittle

    This article implies that “LaVista Hills” is “LaVista Yes”. All of the internal e-mails were from LaVista Yes leaders–maybe I missed something.

    In reality, these are two vastly different organizations–mainly with different skill sets, modus operandi, geography and political communities. The “Lavista Hills” movement is not only NOT monolithic–it easily can be distinguished as “fractured”.

    There are no e-mails quoted from LaVista Alliance here. Do Alliance leaders have a “no e-mail policy” or were LaVista Alliance e-mails simply carefully worded so as not to incriminate….therefore of no use to DeKalb Strong in its release to Decaturish?

    • At the time the emails were sent, LaVista Hills Alliance was not yet up and running, so it was one movement then.

    • Marjorie Snook

      This email dump includes emails from Kevin Levitas, Steve Schultz, Mary Kay Woodworth, and attorney Tom Kurrie, who are all now with the Alliance. But at the time this open records request was filed, all these people were still in Yes because the Alliance did not yet exist.

  • Follow The Money

    Can one get the Alliance emails? Would love to know what they are saying behind closed doors. They are the ones holding the $500 a person fundraisers for those looking to profit from this city. Keep up the good work Marjorie and thank you for doing what you are doing to expose this fraud.

  • Cities Are Bad

    Kerboom! This is what Dekalb needs to see about these cities. They cannot pay their own way so they should not leave the county. The areas that are even worse off than ours should now rethink their grand plans of getting rid of all of our jobs. Now that Lavista hills is sunk Dekalb Strong needs to set their focus on Tucker and that area. It is more poor than Lavista hills and surely cannot pay their own way. Has to be a tax increase for them as well it is just hidden behind the poor math of the university of Georgia. Keep donating money to Dekalb strong, we need this money to take care of those county haters in Tucker now. Lavista hills can afford a tax increase, but tucker cannot. This will force many people to have to move with a tax increase. not many large houses in tucker to pay the bills.

  • Amy Velez

    Looks like the real issue here is with CVI. Seems to me it owes LVHY an updated study with the correct millage rate and 2015 tax numbers (at least estimates from tax comm.) asap and at no charge, to settle this once and for all. It can’t be that difficult to plug in new numbers and run it again.

    CVI is the story everybody’s missing. Look at their past work. Were past studies off, too?

    • LaVista Hills YES

      Their studies were overly conservative for the other new cities, which showed more revenue and less expenses than CVI ESTIMATED at their outset.

      CVI was paid $30K for a Lakeside study, $30K for a Briarcliff study, and $15K to combine and update those two for LaVista Hills. If you want to pay them to do another round, go ahead. They do have other work besides just cityhood studies. CVI is THE recognized leader in this kind of analysis, with the Andrew Young School at GA State (who did Tucker’s study) a close second.

      It will be 2017 before LaVista Hills gets tax revenues. Meanwhile 2015 is not the same as 2014, and 2016 will not be either. The county has dramatically raised residential property valuations for the past two years, but so far not the commercial. It’s past quadratic equations to try and ESTIMATE all of this.

      It’s a moving target. It’s ESTIMATES based on sound methodology. We are confident that we can elect better stewards for our tax dollars, and we are also confident that our citizens will watch us with laser vision to keep us focused.

      • follow the money

        75k in studies alone so for. WHO PAID FOR THEM? LVH Yes will only loosely disclose who paid for the last 15k one. Where did the other 60k come from? What about their other expenses? They dissolved Lakeside and Briarcliff so will probably never know where all that money came from. Will probably never know how much money the Valdosta Law firm behind the mess in Brookhaven donated in money and free services. All we know is LVH Alliance is already lining up the corporations looking to profit.

  • factivist

    The devil is always in the details. All this “he said, she said” snooping in people’s emails is just a smoke screen, more FUD being peddled by opponents of LVH. The state legislature depends on the Carl Vinson Institute at UGA for not only this kind of information, but a broad swath of governmental studies and information. They depended on the CVI for this feasibility study, like many others over the years. The study was and is solid.

    All this tempest in a teapot of emails was discussion of 2014 numbers and projections. Get to the details. All any thinking person has to do is plug in the 2015 current numbers, which are 15-20% higher, to see what is reality. If we want to go further, plug in the projected numbers for 2016, which is when LVH would become operational. There is no valid doubt that LVH is financially sound — this is only the purveyors of fear, uncertainty and doubt doing their usual efforts to kill our chance at being a city.

    • simple

      If you plug in 2016 revenues, then shouldn’t you plug in 2016 expenses (and not 2012)?

      • factivist

        Huh? I don’t follow. We can project 2016 revenue, using existing numbers. Since the city does not yet exist, there are no current expense numbers to work from. I believe the CVI study had to use whatever were the most recent numbers available based on similar existing cities. Actual revenues have changed and we now have 2015 numbers for that, which seems to be the focus.

        • simple

          The focus is on the difference between revenue and expenses (test of feasibility). If you use 2016 revenue projections, then shouldn’t you at least take the two similar cities projected expenses for 2016 (budgets). While revenues have indeed grown, the similar cities expenses have also grown – it looks like they have actually grown more than the revenue rate so simply plugging in 2016 revenue to pay 2012 expense levels may make it look better, but will not give you a fair economic test of feasibility.

          • factivist

            The similar cities have grown, period. Driving through each shows that with the old “eyeball test.” Thus both revenues and expenses increase commensurately, I would expect. In the here-and-now, LVH has plans for fewer employees, to my understanding, and other subtle differences. So a feasibility study is just that – a study of whether something can feasibly be done. We all know that LVH can. Arguing over something like this is arguing over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. It is a non-issue being hyped by anti-LVH people in their FUD campaign to get knee-jerk reactions. I’m over it.

          • simple

            “we all know that LVH can” But you don’t know, that was the point of the study – to verify.

          • follow the money

            Whats wrong this area again? Crime is very low. Home values are going sky high. Traffic is manageable when compared to brookhaven, dunwoody and other cities. Our roads overall are good compared to anywhere else. (especially other parts of dekalb) Dekalb just spent 10 million dollars (which would never have happened had lakeside happened) to give us a 20 something acre park. (ironically LVH put their borders right at the edge of parks and did not take them) Tell me again why we want to add another layer of government. higher taxes and more corrupt politicians to our lives?

          • Mike

            Our crime is low and traffic is manageable?? That’s laughable at best. I should clarify to say that crime is certainly not rampant, but there seem to be a noticeable increase in burglaries around my area as of late. And if you need me to discuss traffic, then you clearly aren’t spending much time in the car.

          • follow the money

            Mike our crime is low compared to the cities. Our traffic is better then most. Have you driven through Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Brookhaven? Its makes ours look like nothing. The LVH people are looking to build and build high density just like Brookhaven and Dunwoody. The last thing this area needs is that. More cars and no roads to service them. My opinion is if you think a city is better move over there. The rest of us want things to be left as they are.

          • Mike

            Please share these crime statistics more broadly with all of us. I’m really curious to review them. On traffic: Yes I do drive through those areas quite frequently and their traffic is bad too, but to say that our local traffic is better than most is just not true.

            I intentionally bought a house and moved into unincorporated Dekalb 11 years ago. Since then our county government has completely self destructed, so seeking change is prudent in my opinion. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result…well you know what that is…

            Also your comment about me moving is just tasteless and rude and shows the typical anti-city hood behavior that I have come to expect.

            I wish all a good evening.

          • follow the money

            Mike I bought my house here like many others because I did want to be in a city with the higher taxes and extra layer of government. I didn’t ask for a city, Was never asked how I felt about a city and don’t want a city. You on the other hand would like one so why should I have to change where I live for you? If you think a city is better then go move to one. Leave me and my neighbors alone. We like things just the way they are.

          • follow the money

            made a typo. “did not want to be in a city”

          • Mike

            Well there’s this astonishingly amazing thing called democracy and voting, so please vote no and I will contemplate voting yes. At the end of the day I respect the right of everyone to make their own choice. I also respect the right for people to express their opinion so hopefully you’ll respect my opinion when I say that enough is enough with the inept county government. Cheers!

          • m2ap

            Everyone is fed up with the county government. But we all still will be in DeKalb County. So why not put all this effort into fixing it instead of adding more politicians into the mix?

          • jo
          • Mike

            That’s from last year. Here’s a more recent story that concerns me:

          • factivist

            And it did.

          • DecaturMax

            Please explain. Are you suggesting 2015 inflation and the approximately 15% appreciation in just the tax digest are equal? I think I could get on board with a few percentage points of inflation as a reflection of a tighter job market. Income generated off the stronger economy and tax digest can’t possibly be equal to minor inflation.

          • simple

            For example, Dunwoody is one of the two comparisons – used to get to estimated costs for the new government – per capita numbers are used. In 2012 (one of the numbers used), the numbers for expenses were as follows: City Council – $177,810; Admin – $442,055; and Marketing – $297,807 (just a few). Now in 2016, Dunwoody is budgeting the following for same service areas: City Council – $259,592; Admin – $594,663; and Marketing – $500,360. Those three areas show growth of 46%, 35% and 68% versus the 15% growth in revenue projections that you are using. Even converting to per capita doesn’t help since the population has grown only 3.7% from 2010 to current. So the quick fix would not work and feasibility would look less so with current numbers versus your existing calculations. Simplified of course, but should hold water. The issue is the cap. The better argument might be to simply say you don’t mind paying higher taxes for an additional level of government and remove the cap. Then you can raise your revenue number to a point (probably around 3 additional mills) to become feasible again.

          • DecaturMax

            So sad to see such rhetoric and BS. I hope you will take a minute to look at the total budget for Dunwoody 2015-2016

            since Simpley cherry picked out numbers. Dunwoody 2015 Budget revenue is projected to go up 2.62% while city expenditures are expected to go up 2.88%. Hmmm…

            As I have said and will say again, scare tactics abound with Dekalb Strong. Simple would lead you to believe that government costs are going up 15-20 times the true amount by cherry picking numbers. Read the Dunwoody budget for yourself!


            Kind of inline with my comment about a few percentage points of inflation?

            I hate to see Mr. Carleton attacked without refuting his claim that the millage rate was wrong. Right or wrong, I think it a moot point now that it is clear there is way more revenue to cover expenses conservatively estimated by CVI.Higher taxes!! is the opposition said in Dunwoody and Brookhaven and it was not true!

            My main point of the per capita reference is that the
            suggested budgetary deficit Dekalb Strong beleives exists is so tiny it irrelevant. In a City of 60k+, a yearly revenue increase of $2 per resident covers the massive deficit that has been suggested based on what all agree are weaker economic numbers.Forrest and the trees……

            It defies logic that all cities cost go up because a city “awash” in money after a great 2014-2015 like Dunwoody(lower millage rate) raises their budget 2.8%.

            The early argument was that Dekalb County will lose too much money if the Cities are formed. Now the new argument is the cities will not have money to function. Which one is it?

            The deferred maintenance on the roads is stacking up. Look at the pavement around your neighborhood. Most parks are largely maintained by the athletic associations that use them and not by the county. Mason Mill is the exception and a fine park. Seen any new playgrounds or county renovations at Henderson park, Cofer park, Pleasentdale Park, Medlock Park? Presently, pocket park greenspace purchased with taxpayer funds has no money for maintenance or improvements. There is no master plan for this area of Dekalb. The cities are already talking “big picture” master plan with creekway trails and parks.



            Think Dekalb parks are ok?…I challenge anyone to go look at Gwinnett Parks. Go look at Morgan Falls park in Sandy Springs. See how Smyrna has transformed Spring Rd from an appearance like Memorial drive to handsome boulevard with landscaping and wide Curvi-linear jogging trails. Look at the master plan and yearly improvements to Brook Run park. Go visit one of many Suwanee trails and Parks. You don’t know how bad you have it in unincorporated Dekalb because you think this is all you deserve.

            Go see what Dunwoody and Brookhaven are doing with their parks. They have real plans with public input. Sure there will be heated Blogging and discussions that wrongly will lead some to think a whole city is unhappy. Better to have these discussion than to quietly find out the county bought a pocket park over value from a politically connected builder the week it happens.

            We don’t have it good in unincorporated. As other areas are redeveloped with amenities that draw business and young professionals, we lag behind. Poor performing govt, dilapidated parks and a friends and family first culture that crosses seamlessly back and forth between the County schools and government. Why do we put up with it and can’t make a change?….. because we know that no one area or neighborhood can vote out a commissioner elected by 140,000 with full incumbent political support and funding in place.

            Try finding this info at Dekalb county.


        • Follow The Money

          Notice no one at LVH has made a firm statement he is wrong yet. They have instead attacked the mans profession because obviously a person can only excel at one thing or do math correctly. They still have not showed how they did their math (unlike Russel) to show how they are right. They also have had there sheep post anywhere and everywhere about increased home values leading to more tax revenue even if the guy was right so were good. Of course they ignore increase in expenses from what the study used. These emails only show they are just as bad as those running dekalb. Only these people we might run into at publix.

          • notapunk

            You mean “their” sheep, don’t you? As opposed to DeKalb Strong’s sheep, who parrot the DS line about crime in Dunwoody and corruption in Brookhaven? Those are the talking points, aren’t they? Especially since “we’re going to become Ferguson,” “they don’t pay into the police pension fund” and “Marietta can’t pay the light bill” have all been proven either false or laughable.

          • follow the money

            proven wrong by who? Woodworth? Levitas? Milar? I saw links to real data by Deklab Strong. Where is LVHA data? I would like to believe their word but last time I heard from Levitas and Milar they were not getting involved with a city anymore after lakeside crashed. But wait. Milar is the one who broke the deal LVH made with Tucker to form his own map right? Levitas is the one who recently said those big $500 a pop corporate donors need to pony up some money if they expect us to invest in them correct? Mary Kay was quoted on this site saying she was quitting to spend time with her family and then turned around to form this Alliance group with the robo calling guy. Not sure the track record is there with me when it comes to those LVH people. Sorry but I am not into being punked by them.

          • notapunk

            By reality — the facts. Those arguments didn’t stand up to scrutiny. Even DeKalb Strong supporters shot them down. Those talking points were dropped because they didn’t hold up. The rest of your post has nothing to do with anything I said, so I’m not quite sure you even understand what I wrote.

    • Marjorie Snook

      Huh. “Snooping in people’s emails.” These are public records, obtained via a Georgia Open Records Act request. Do you have a problem like that?

      The attorney for the Alliance is someone who was terminated by Brookhaven for violating the Georgia Open Records Act.

      Are we seeing evidence of how LVH feels about real transparency? If citizens were to file Open Records requests with LVH, would they snarl at them that they were ‘snooping’?

  • GARY

    I’m sure there are people like me who are confused. maybe if both sides sent pros and cons email.

  • Wardy Love

    Just vote no in November.

  • DecaturMax

    No one said, hey let’s start a new city is to save money. Please reference Dekalb County corruption for some good reasons for a city. Being revenue neutral is important, but it is not the driving force for the city movements.

    All this… he said…she said…trying to “catch ” someone in a misstatement is getting juvenile. I challenge someone who says the Lavista Hills as a city can NOT meet projected obligations while using a 2015 tax digest and tax projections to make this case. Anyone? Dekalb Strong, If you can’t make this argument, please stop the scare tactics about higher taxes.

    I understand there are concerns with a new city and a more local government.

    I follow Brookhaven and Dunwoody via Dunwoody Crier and Brookhaven Post. My takeaway from these new cities is that each decision and project is vetted and highly public. This abundance of Democracy where all projects are discussed locally leads to more conflict and a higher potential to get your feelings hurt.

    There is something a little uncomfortable with your immediate neighbor serving on a commission making the decisions that effect you and your community. It is up close and personal. Why would you prefer total strangers that can not lose an election make decisions for you. Your neighbors and Civic association volunteers are the same people who would be running for city council. And if these newly elected officials violate the public trust, they will lose office since they only represent a few neighborhoods and info flows quickly in a small close knit community. With a 1 to 140,000 representation on the Dekalb commission, no one leaves office without an arrest warrant. Districts are too big and politicians too entrenched.

    My neighborhood, local Swim/ Tennis club, and several other area neighborhoods hire off duty police to patrol to try to cut down on crimes.

    This is a large expense on top of taxes to pay for police. The jury is still out on the success of this program. I do know that a city of Lavista Hills will have a higher police presence from discussions with police regarding the typical number of officers in the Lavista corridor. Lavista Hills Police might remove the need for a privately funded neighborhood patrol. FYI, paying another $20 per year on Lavista Hills Police would be a savings over hiring police patrols. An extra $20 per citizen toward police in Lavista Hills amounts to about $1.2 million more for police. And if Lavista Hills has to change the city charter to charge a little more for great police services, so be it.

    This is a big movement merged from 2 other movements with lots of people and moving parts. There will be imperfections. We can sort through the good and bad candidates when it is time. Just like other new cities, there will be contested elections and bad apples will be pushed aside. J Max Davis is gone and lost an election. Stan Watson is still around. I would hope that the local newspapers would concentrate on the merits of the movement and the quality of our present government.

    Scare tactics threatening higher taxes while using outdated income projections is not dignified.

    • follow the money

      Max do you read the actual comments from residents after the articles in Brookhaven? Not a lot of happy people over there. Even from the ones who voted yes. Lots of corruption and insider deals going on over there and remember the same people/money behind that city are behind LVH. LVH will only bring less cops and more corruption. The crime statistics in Dunwoody and ethics issues in brookhaven prove that.

      • notapunk

        Keep in mind the Brookhaven Post commenters as a group are largely “anti-city from the get-go.” There’s nothing the city could do that would make them happy and they gang up against and run off anyone who disagrees with them.

        J Max Davis is gone. It looks like Brookhaven has a decent crop of candidates, including the former DeKalb Ethics Board Chair John Ernst, who, I suspect, would not be playing with Lysol.

        What people seem to forget or don’t wish to point out — we are not Brookhaven, we are not Dunwoody. Never have been. Never will be. This side of I-85 has always been different. Maybe I just have more faith in my neighbors. I’ve seen what they can do. I believe they’ll do the right thing.

        As for insider deals, I can’t think of any in the new cities that comes even close to bankrolling a practice facility for a billionaire’s hobby soccer club.

        • follow the money

          I’m not for funding any of these things (braves, falcons, soccer) but the LVH Alliance people (back when they were Lakeside) were giddy when Cobb County made the Braves deal. They even used it as an example of how Cobb is better then Dekalb on their facebook page. Whats thats going to cost the tax payers 6-700 million by the time you add on interest on the bonds, bridges across 285 and what not? Like this stupid soccer deal. It was rushed through with no debate or taxpayer input. No traffic studies. No cost studies. Nothing. That deal was done by white republicans though. So that deal they were ok with though.

          • notapunk

            i saw the post at the time. “Giddy” is too strong a word. Congratulatory is more like it.
            Bottom line; you’re funding a practice facility for a team that I’ll wager isn’t in Atlanta in 5 years. You’ll also get to keep paying to mow all that grass long after that.

          • follow the money

            5 years? They have 17000 people lined up for season tickets and they don’t even start playing until 2017. Billionaires smarter then you and I are not spending 100 million just on a franchise fee for something with a shelve life of 5 years. I to am not happy about the soccer deal but to be fair the geniuses behind this city movement applauded the Braves deal and even showed it as example to bash dekalb. The soccer deal they of course hated. I wonder why…..

          • Jan Atlanta

            I saw the post, too, and it’s on DeKalb Strong website. It was a commentary on whether Braves owners had even considered a location in DeKalb County, specifically mentioning the GM site. This was before any of the details about funding were even mentioned. “Great news for Cobb County and a shocker for City of Atlanta. Wonder if Braves’ management considered former GM site in DeKalb?”

      • Decaturmax

        I do read comments. Great example of how a few bloggers do not represent overall sentiment. hope you don’t think the 10-20 people cobstantly blogging represent the general public.

        I personally think it healthy to have these discussions. In uninc. dekalb right now, this does not happen.

    • jo

      More cops in LaVista Hills city. I gotta call NONSENSE on that. Evey cop I’ve spoken to says the exact opposite and they point out all the additional cops we lose from the other divisions. Then I read this quote from the Dunwoody chief the other day; “our Crimes Against Persons are up 85.2 % for the year.” The idea of cutting cops is not a good idea.

      “Scare tactics threatening higher taxes” and here’s Fran Millar on the need for the sales TAX INCREASE to pass this Nov. ” it would protect existing cities from losing tax funds if new cities form. For example, under the county’s current tax structure, the cities of Brookhaven and Dunwoody could lose about $2 million a year from each of their budgets if a new city is created.”-AJC
      Brookhaven is a warning not a beacon. The contractors are having trouble getting paid and they cant keep employees.

  • factivist

    About that tax thing, I just found a direct comparison, actual tax statements on
    Check it out. This makes clear that those of us in unincorporated DeKalb are paying higher taxes than people in Dunwoody! For people who have lived in DeKalb for more than 5-10 years, this makes a profound statement. The swanky Dunwoody area has always been more posh than our area, and yet they now pay lower taxes than WE do!

    Incorporating brought Dunwoody a 2.79 millage, while we adrift in unincorporated pay 7.64 and get neglect by the county in return. While they are getting miles and miles of roads repaved, a local police force dedicated to their city, better care for their infrastructure, city representation at the county and state level for their people, etc. Lower taxes, better services, all by shifting just 7 cents out of each dollar paid to the county — I’m thinking it is time our part of the county gets the same consideration as Dunwoody! ‘Seems a no-brainer to me.

    • Russell Carleton

      This would be reasonable if LaVista Hills could borrow Dunwoody’s tax base. If LaVista Hills is not feasible at a rate of 5.00, then why would it be feasible at a rate of 2.74?

      • Mike

        I agree with your point about the benefits being tied to the mileage rates, but is factivist correct in his statement about them paying a lower tax rate?

        • Russell Carleton

          Dunwoody does pay a lower overall tax bill than does the unincorporated area, and that’s wonderful for them. But becoming a city doesn’t come pre-installed with the ability to pay a lower rate. That will depend on how big your tax base is and Dunwoody has a lot more commercial property than does LaVista Hills.

          LaVista Hills will have to charge a rate high enough to meet its needs. Remember that — for residential properties — just because the sticker price millage is lower, it doesn’t mean a lower tax bill for residents. I recommend this website ( to get an idea of how that works. Put in how much your house (or any house) is worth. It uses 2014 data, but it shows millages and total tax bills next to each other. And for a fantastic run-down of the tax process, check out this article:

        • moreThanAdValorem

          If you only consider property taxes, then you can say they pay a lower rate. If you consider all the taxes and fees they pay, then their rate is higher. We all still pay countywide fees and ancillary revenue sources, but only Dunwoody residents (and guests) pay theirs (such as insurance premiums, franchise, charges for services, fines, and debt). So their final revenue contribution is about 20% higher than an unincorporated resident.

      • DHH

        But La Vista is probably feasible at 5.00 no? I mean worst case scenario they are off by $100k (your calculation) which is basically nothing. CVI they are positive by 1.5 million, and depending on property values they could be even more revenue positive by say 2018-2019. I don’t live in the La Vista footprint and am agnostic as to what I hope to happen, but I am pretty convinced it is solvent as a city.

  • OldWhiteDad

    I’m just an OldWhiteDad with a strong conservative upbringing and a long history of voting Republican. I have been following the cityhood issue for months and have yet to comment anywhere at any time. This is my first post. I have been completely undecided ’til now. I AM VOTING NO. Here’s why.

    It doesn’t take a degree in finance or any work experience to figure out the math concerning the “mistake” Mr. Carleton found in the CVI report. It doesn’t take much more financial experience than balancing your checkbook. Instead of either pointing out the errors in Mr. Carleton’s thinking or admitting the mistake made by the “esteemed” Carl Vincent Institute, the Lavista Hills folks attacked the messenger. It seems the LVH people have no answers to the issues raised. It seems they have no answers except to ban any meaningful discussion.

    I’d also like to add there are three NO VOTES in my house as we have a son away at college who also gets to participate in the process.

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