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26 January 2014

GOP Sponsor of South Fulton City Bill Wants to Reduce Size & Scope of Fulton County Government

In repeated statements to other media outlets, state Representative Ed Lindsey (R - Atlanta) made it abundantly clear that he wants to reduce the size and scope of Fulton County.

“One of the chief criticisms that we’ve heard over the years in regards to Fulton County government is that it’s duplicated and bloated," Rep. Lindsey told WSB Radio in 2013. "What we’re simply trying to do is bring it down to size so that it’s dealing with those vital countywide services that no other entity can provide" [Parrish, Sandra (11 March 2013). N. Fulton Republicans want another shot at homestead exemption. WSB Radio. Retrieved on 25 January 2014.].

Lindsey may get his wish to bring Fulton County government down to size if a bill he's co-sponsored clears the General Assembly this year.

House Bill 704, if passed and approved by voters, would create a new municipality in metro Atlanta; the city of South Fulton. The legislation would also have the effect of getting Fulton County out of the business of providing city services entirely.

Fulton County currently provides police, fire, parks and recreation, and planning and zoning services to unincorporated south Fulton County; an area of about 66 square miles and an estimated 87,628 residents. Unincorporated south Fulton represents about ten percent of Fulton County's total population.

"With 90% of Fulton County's population covered by municipal services, serious reforms must take place to reduce the county government's footprint," Lindsey told a meeting of the Atlanta Young Republicans in 2012 [Lee, Robert (27 September 2012). House Majority Whip Ed Lindsey Pushes AYRs to Make a Difference. Examiner.com. Retrieved on 25 January 2014.].

Two years prior, Lindsey introduced House Resolution 1589; a constitutional amendment that would have required counties "which has more than 80 percent of its land area located within one or more municipal corporations" to provide only those functions designated by state law. H.R. 1589 was aimed directly at Fulton County, and would have forced unincorporated south Fulton residents to look towards joining a surrounding city or creating a new municipality in order to keep receiving city-like services.

Lindsey's proposed constitutional amendment never made it out of committee. House Bill 704, the city of South Fulton bill, might. And both pieces of legislation have the same effect. Both bills reduce the size and scope of Fulton County government by getting it out of the city services business.

"By reducing services and turning them over to municipal governments for a county that’s over 90 percent municipalized, that’s a very reasonable thing for us to be asking,” Rep. Lindsey (R – Buckhead) told WABE last year [Shapiro, Jonathan (13 March 2013). On Second Try, House Passes Bill Targeting Size of Fulton County Government. WABE-FM. Retrieved on 25 January 2014.].

Local American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union leader Greg Fann didn't have kind words for the attempts to reduce the size and scope of Fulton County.

“You could not get Milton County,” Fann said, referring to a plan to form a separate county favored by some in the north. “Now you’re trying to destroy Fulton County" [Wickert, David (7 February 2013). Bills to shake up Fulton get hearing. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved on 25 January 2014.].