The Facts on Re-Creating Milton County
January 25, 2011
– The advocates to re-create Milton County want smaller, more responsive government, closer to the people. More than leaving Fulton County, they want to eliminate a government that is too expensive, bloated and inadequate in serving its citizens’ needs.
– This is the fifth consecutive year the resolution has been before the Georgia General Assembly. Seven House members and three Senators representing north Fulton individually authored resolutions allowing historically merged counties to be re-created: Rep. Harry Geisinger, Rep. Jan Jones, Rep. Chuck Martin, Rep. Tom Rice, Rep. Lynne Riley, Rep. Wendell Willard, Rep. Joe Wilkinson, Senator John Albers, Senator Judson Hill and Senator David Shafer.
– Should the legislature approve the amendment and it successfully pass a statewide referendum vote in November 2012, it would take several additional years after that to jointly work out intergovernmental agreements and form new county charters to assure all residents have a smooth transition.
– Fulton County comprises 10 percent of Georgia’s population. It is larger in population than six individual states. Formerly three counties, Fulton spans almost 80 miles in length.
– If Milton County (and/or Campbell County in south Fulton) is recreated and includes Sandy Springs, Roswell, Alpharetta, Milton and Mountain Park cities, Fulton would be the fourth most populous County and Milton County would rank fifth.
– Milton County would be the only (non-consolidated) county that is fully municipalized. South Fulton is almost fully municipalized. Less than 3 percent of Fulton residents are unincorporated, all in south Fulton.
– – Fulton County taxes and spends more than double per capita that of Cobb and Gwinnett Counties, not including MARTA and Grady Hospital expenditures.
– The county’s record on service delivery is so unsatisfactory, citizens in unincorporated north and south Fulton sought and succeeded in creating the first new cities in Georgia in more than 50 years.
– In 2005 and 2006, the Georgia General Assembly supported legislation to create Sandy Springs, Johns Creek, Milton and Chattahoochee Hills by constitutional majorities.
– The four new cities have more than doubled the delivery of services at the same or lower millage rates. For example, each new city has more than double the number of police officers providing public safety as compared to prior to corporation.
– Several years ago, the Fulton County Commission passed a resolution opposing the creation of Sandy Springs on the grounds that it would financially harm the county. Fulton passed similar resolutions opposing the creation of Johns Creek and Milton. County revenues actually increased following the incorporation of each city.
– The constitutional amendment allowing the recreation of historically created counties would only affect Fulton County. If the amendment were approved, Campbell County, Milton County or a smaller Fulton County could be reconstituted. Additionally, Atlanta and Fulton County’s consolidation could be facilitated, similar to consolidated Athens/Clark County, Augusta/Richmond County and Columbus/Muscogee County. Bills to consolidate Macon/Bibb and Albany/Dougherty counties will be reintroduced this year.
– The Atlanta School System would be unaffected. In fact, residents in the city of Atlanta already successfully fund and support two out of the three local governments, the city and school system. Consolidating with Fulton would give Atlanta residents full control over local, political decisions.
– The constitutional amendment requires all parties to continue to fulfill financial obligations that were made while the counties were merged, including Grady and MARTA. All obligations pertaining to retired Fulton County personnel and unfunded retiree obligations would be borne by all parties.
– The constitutional amendment does not require a new superior court jurisdiction. It allows the legislature to form one at a future time if it deems it necessary.
– A new school system would be created for Milton County (fifth largest). The south Fulton County school system would continue as one of the largest in Georgia or it could be merged with Atlanta if residents so chose.