North Fulton Plans To Form Their Own County
Passing legislation for a referendum to
create the North Fulton cities of Milton and John's Creek is just phase one of
the North Fulton movement to split Fulton County into two counties.
North Fulton wants to be their own county - not just incorporate their cities.
This is not hearsay or rhetoric see and hear Representative Mark Burkhalter's
say so himself:
MPG Video (large file 1 MB)
As they veil them selves in the flag of self
determination, what they really want to do is get out of financial support
MARTA and Grady. Putting all financial responsibility for Grady and MARTA
south of the river would almost certainly bankrupt what is now South Fulton
and Atlanta. It remains to be seen if the legislature and the Governor would
let them stick South County with the burden for these regional services.
Experts thought the legislature would never suspend the 3-mile rule that
allowed Sandy Springs to incorporate.
Forming their own county would also allow North
Fulton to form their own school system. Do you see the picture now?
After all of the new schools have been built in North Fulton and South Fulton
only has Sandtown MS completed from SPLOST II - Fulton Schools are out of
money for capital construction until the next SPLOST III vote this fall.
As a matter of fact
the Fulton School
System is making massive cuts to school services including life safety items
like school police, social workers and psychologists in addition to music
programs in an effort to balance in excess of an $80 million shortfall in the
As Representative Mark Burkhalter elaborates on
strategy to secede from Fulton
County in this video
in which he talks about creating North Fulton cities now and splitting off
North Fulton into their own county later.
State House Representative Jan Jones also elaborates
"independence from Fulton County in three years" in this article from
Cities short-sighted in land-grab
approach to annexation
North Fulton's future lies in the balance, and elected
officials' actions will soon determine the tilt. Hanging precariously are
dramatically lower county taxes, needed infrastructure improvements and better
decision-making closer to the people.
Milton County can
be seen over the horizon in 2008 if north Fulton residents remain collectively
committed to that vision. It will not happen, though, if Alpharetta and
Roswell city councils remain committed to short-sighted annexation plans set
to harm their own and unincorporated residents.
Both cities' elected officials have reacted with knee-jerk
land grabs while 70,000 northeast and 20,000 northwest Fulton unincorporated
residents consider more effective, lower cost local government by forming new
cities next year.
Alpharetta has maneuvered towards annexing around a park
and high-property tax generating neighborhoods while aggressively courting
revenue-producing commercial properties.
Roswell put on the full-court press to annex two
parks, a fire station and high-end neighborhoods.
Each seeks to supplement city revenues to balance its
budget through cherry-picking annexations, rather than looking self-critically
at reducing costs and high property tax rates or creating business-friendly
policies. Each may blithely leave the unincorporated areas barren of assets
that unincorporated residents paid for.
If allowed to be picked clean, the unincorporated
remainders may have no choice but to throw in the cityhood towel. Without
comprehensive cityhood, though, the odds of north
Fulton negotiating a separate Milton County are slim.
To achieve full independence from
Fulton County in three years, we have two alternatives. We
must either convince a two-thirds majority of the state House and Senate to
amend the state's constitution allowing an additional county, and then win a
statewide referendum. Or we must strike a deal with two small, low-wealth
counties to merge, thus freeing up a spot to stay within the constitutionally
restricted maximum number of 159 counties.
In either case, we need an electorate composed entirely of
city residents with representation separate from
Fulton County working on its citizens' behalf. Without it,
creating a new county from scratch also means recreating corrosive, expensive
dynamics in which some residents...
Fulton sprouting cities north, south
Proposed cities would redraw map
Fulton County leaders are
looking at a new future this week, one that could fundamentally reshape county
politics and government.
Georgia lawmakers, at the
very end of the legislative session, voted to let south Fulton residents
decide whether they want two new cities there. The Legislature previously had
approved the same choice for residents in unincorporated north Fulton.
A commercial nursery in north Fulton County sits next
door to a housing subdivision off Union Hill Road
that would be in the proposed city of Milton. Area voters will decide this
summer whether to proceed with incorporation, and a referendum also will
be held on the proposed city of Johns Creek.
It's all part of the chain
reaction set off last year when Sandy Springs advocates won the right to form
a city and take over jobs they said county officials had bungled. South Fulton
advocates say they now feel the same thing.
"We're being hung out to
dry," said Chuck Miller, a member of the steering group backing incorporation
Residents of two proposed
north Fulton cities, Milton and Johns Creek, will vote on cityhood in July and
would hold their first elections in November.
Referendums on the two
cities proposed in the south, named Chattahoochee Hill Country and South
Fulton, would be on the ballot in summer 2007.
Assuming all four
communities approve incorporation, Fulton could be out of the business of
doing road work, running parks and providing communities with police and fire
service as early as 2009.
It would remove virtually
all of the remaining unincorporated areas, with any remaining land expected to
be annexed by one of the cities.
"I, for one, am looking
forward to doing county kinds of stuff," said County Manager Tom Andrews,
referring to responsibilities such as courts, jails and public health.
The likely transition
during the next few years doesn't look to be as wrenching as Sandy Springs'
experience last year.
For one, money isn't as
big a concern.
The creation of Sandy
Springs severely depleted the fund used to pay for city-style services
elsewhere in the county. But if the entire county is incorporated, that would
no longer be an issue. Property tax growth should quickly erase remaining
shortfalls, Andrews said.
The county does expect job
cuts, however — as many as 1,000. Many employees will find other work with the
county, but managers will have to find ways to hold onto them in the meantime,
Other changes could be
A committee that studied
Fulton's future had recommended eliminating arts funding, making senior
services programs partly user-supported and exploring changes to public health
funding, according to Robert Eger, a Georgia State University public policy
professor who was chairman of the committee.
But the biggest change may
not be structural.
For years, Fulton has been
beset by divisions caused in part by financing differences. With
neighborhood-level decisions out of the county's hands, regional issues should
dominate discussions, said Commissioner Lynne Riley, who represents north
"So much of my
responsibility has been to serve the folks in the unincorporated areas that
have had no other elected voice," she said.
"With the local city
councils in the picture, the commissioner's role will be strictly to look
regionally and make sure those countywide services are delivered well."
Even that could change next year, when Rep. Mark
Burkhalter (R-Alpharetta) may seek to split Fulton into two counties, one
north of the Chattahoochee River and one south of it.
Lawmakers would have to tackle the more difficult process of amending the
Georgia Constitution to do it.
Burkhalter said county officials shouldn't take the possibility lightly.
"This county can no longer
continue to function like it did in the past, or it will go out of business,"