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11 March 2014

Amendments to South Fulton Bill Could Change Borders of Proposed City, Move Referendum Date

A trio of amendments to House Bill 704, the proposal to create the city of South Fulton, could change the borders of the proposed municipality and push the referendum back to the November General Election.

Monday, the Senate Committee on State Local and Government Operations (SLoGO) met and heard testimony from residents for and against the proposed city of South Fulton.

Dan Young, a resident of the Sandtown community, told SLoGO committee members the economic base is not there to support a city.

"22% of the households do not pay any property taxes at all," Young said of the proposed city of South Fulton. "That is only going to increase. Fulton County has a growing aging population, which means more houses will be taken off the tax rolls. If you take more houses off, new homes; younger people aren't replacing those."

Benny Crane, leader of the pro-city group South Fulton United, countered by pointing to the feasibility study commissioned by his group that says the city of South Fulton can sustain itself financially.

"According to a credible source, they have said on two different occasions that the proposed city of South Fulton would be financially viable," Crane said. "The people are saying, overwhelmingly, that they want an opportunity to have a vote; and then the chips will fall where they may."

Senate SLoGO Committee Vice Chair Chuck Hufstetler (R - Rome) agreed with Crane.

"Where I'm at right now on this is I feel like there should be a vote on this," Hufstetler said.

Hufstetler, however, said he wanted to change the effective date of the proposed city's boundaries to 1 September so that people who may want to join an existing city could have a little longer to do so.

"September 1st would be the effective date of the boundaries," Hufstetler told the SLoGO Committee. "In other words, that would give somebody a little more time to annex, but it also gives everybody else a little more time to know what they're voting on."

Senator Hufstetler's amendment raised concerns from South Fulton United members, in the audience, who say they fear allowing existing cities an additional six months to entertain annexation petitions would lead to more cherry picking of unincorporated south Fulton County land; and put the proposed city of South Fulton's financial viability at risk.

The current proposal being considered by the Senate Committee on State Local and Government Operations would move the city of South Fulton referendum date from the 20 May General Primary to the November General Election.

(Latest map of the proposed city of South Fulton, omitting the Fulton County Industrial District)
The latest map of the proposed city (shown right) omits the Fulton County Industrial District, due to House Bill 991 --a bill that would have repealed the constitutional amendment prohibiting Fulton Industrial from being taxed by any governing authority, including the proposed city of South Fulton-- failing to pass the state House of Representatives on Crossover Day.

Senate State Local and Governmental Operations Chairman William Ligon said the panel would vote on the city of South Fulton bill, along with any amendments, Wednesday.