The question whether South Fulton will become a city has been posed since 2007. At the time, eighty-five percent of voters rejected a proposal. Last year, plans to create the city of South Fulton took a step forward when the Georgia House of Representatives approved a measure (HB 704) by a vote of 163-2 allowing voters to decide the issue. The attempt of creating a new city failed as the majority of voters opposed the proposal. Those residents of South Fulton who were opposed claimed they didn’t see any real reason to create a new political infrastructure. This would entail South Fulton selecting a mayor and city council to lead the newly formed City of South Fulton.
A Georgia State University study found the city would be financially viable. The study estimated the city would generate $65 million in annual property tax, sales tax and other revenue. Funding for services like the police and fire departments were projected to be roughly $62 million, leaving a $3 million surplus. Forming a new city would allow residents to gain control of zoning and other decisions affecting their communities. Currently, decisions affecting South Fulton are made by the seven-member Fulton Board of Commissioners. Most of the commissioners live elsewhere in the county.
Annexation into Atlanta is another route unincorporated South Fulton could go. Last year, Mayor Reed visited the area to possibly sway citizens into joining Atlanta. There was some opposition to being annexed into Atlanta due to the fact taxes immediately would increase 6.05% for residents that change their address from South Fulton to Atlanta. In addition to the tax increase, public safety and public schools would be at stake. Fulton County Schools have a 71.5% graduation rate where Atlanta Public Schools have a 54.8% graduation rate, the second lowest in the state.
Despite several benefits, the effort of forming a new city faces some obstacles. A poll conducted last year by 20/20 Insight, showed 22% of respondents in the southern section of Fulton County supported incorporating the new city, 56% were opposed and 22% were unsure. The poll has not swayed residents from forming a coalition of elected leaders and community groups from allowing the discussion to end. This is most evident as House Bill 27 is in front of the Georgia General Assembly potentially constituting and declaring a body politic and corporate under the name of City of South Fulton.
Click HERE to view House Bill 27
Questions and Concerns
The voters of South Fulton need to be made aware of all the issues when establishing a new city. Those on both sides of the issue should answer the following questions:
- What can a city do that the county has not done or failed to do?
- How many officers will be needed?
- Can a new city afford a larger police force?
- How will infrastructure such as sidewalks, roads and bridges be addressed?
The question on the future outlook of South Fulton as to whether a city is a possible scenario for South Fulton was posed in 2007. Eight years later the idea is closer to becoming a reality.