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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

But You Left Out the Franchise Fees!

Brookhaven Explains It All

Brookhaven recently mailed out a flier, titled The Facts About Property Tax In Brookhaven, to every property owner within the City limits. In an attempt to justify their position that property taxes are lower in Brookhaven when compared to adjacent areas of unincorporated DeKalb County, Brookhaven has provided a point-by-point analysis of the tax advantages supposedly enjoyed by City residents.

The Truth-O-Meter In Action!

In an article titled Claim Exaggerates Tax Savings, PolitiFact Georgia, a joint site managed by and, took a hard look at the numbers provided in the flier and attempted to determine just how accurate Brookhaven's claims actually were. Their analysis can be found HERE.

In essense, where Brookhaven claims that tax savings for a home valued at $200,00 would be $260.84 per year. PolitiFact, in its analysis, determined that the true savings for that same home would be less than $50.00 per year. Ultimately, PolitiFact rated Brookhaven's claim as Half True.

But Where Are the Franchise Fees?

In reading the both the flyer and the PolitiFact article, we note that both groups omitted the impact of franchise fees on their city revenues, exactly how much is paid by City residents and how those fees vary between the new cities and the County. In researching franchise fees, I've found it is problematic to determine exactly how they work, who pays what, who ultimately receives that revenue, and just how it is accounted for. In general, cities may collect franchise fees that the County cannot, but franchise fees are assessed on both city and county residents, often unknowingly. Some franchise fees paid by unincorporated residents are distributed to cities statewide, but not to the County which generates them. A tricky slope indeed, franchise fees.

So what impact do franchise fees have on Brookhaven's budget? And how does that compare to the County? They're not saying, and its quite possible that nobody really knows for sure.

The flier itself, after the break.

The Brookhaven Flier

It would have been extremely helpful if Brookhaven had also provided a pie chart illustrating Revenue Sources, but I guess that would have been too hard. But all in all, a useful document for those debating incorporation in Tucker and Lakeside.


  1. Actual franchise tax receipt info is available as a line item on city financial statements. The estimated franchise taxes are shown as a specific amount on the city feasibility studies.

    And FYI, everyone pays franchise taxes, but only cities receive the taxes.

  2. Why would Brookhaven include a pie chart of revenue sources in a flier about only one source-- property taxes?