Last month, a metro Atlanta legislator had pre-filed a bill that could provide an opportunity for the Buckhead neighborhood to be one of Georgia’s largest incorporated areas with nearly 100,000 residents. That action prompted the North Atlanta Parents for Public Schools to make a statement on the ongoing initiatives to detach the neighborhood from Atlanta.
State Senator Brandon Beach of Alpharetta pre-filed Senate Bill 324 in mid-November as a notice of intention for bill introduction during the 2022 Legislative session. The Bill, in part, seeks to allow voters to decide whether or not Buckhead should succeed from the City of Atlanta and become the new municipality of Buckhead City
In a letter published last week by the North Atlanta Parents for Public Schools, the Executive Board representing Atlanta’s Public School’s Buckhead-based North Atlanta cluster, announced that they are opposed to the incorporation and Senate Bill 324, in part reading, “…the executive board of NAPPS wanted to reach out to you, our fellow parent leaders and advocates across APS, to let you know directly from us, that we are strongly opposed to this legislation and the movement behind it. Prior to now, we have withheld comment as there had been no actual bill to comment on. Going forward, we intend to fully support APS’s 2022 legislative priority to “Protect the Atlanta Public Schools property tax base to support quality instruction for all students, including by advocating against legislation that supports the creation of a City of Buckhead.”
SB Bill 324, also sponsored by Senator Burt Jones, Senator Greg Dolezal, and Senator Randy Robertson, outlines the municipal boundary, powers and construction of the new City, the exercise of powers, government structure, including the creation of a City Council, compensation for the Mayor and Council members, City Manager qualifications and powers, City Departments and Commissions, the design of a judicial branch of Buckhead, and property and business taxing authority, among other powers and duties often associated with city operations.
The Bill also outlines the process for incorporation, which includes Fulton County calling a special election to the qualified voters of the proposed City of Buckhead for approval or rejection on November 8, 2022.
If more than one-half of the votes cast on the question is for approval, the contents of the Bill will go into effect, and the powers outlined in Bill 324 would be in full force by the new municipality. A special election of the City of Buckhead would then be held in June 2023.
Supporting Bill 324, once known as the Buckhead Exploratory Committee, the Buckhead City Committee is a group of residents and business owners in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta who see a continued trend of neglect towards the area has caused crime to increase, lack of zoning control, and infrastructure to deteriorate. According to the Buckhead City Website, the solution to the problem includes capturing the taxes typically provided to the City of Atlanta and using the revenues to fund an independent City through incorporation. According to a Regional Impact Study prepared by Valdosta State University and embraced by the Buckhead City Committee, Buckhead should expect annual revenue of approximately $203 million and annual expenses of approximately $90 million, generating a surplus of roughly $113 million.
Georgia’s 2022 legislative session begins on January 10 and concludes on or before March 31, 2022.