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HomeGlobal NewsGeorgia Gov. Kemp Deals Blow to Buckhead Suburb Trying to Secede from...

Georgia Gov. Kemp Deals Blow to Buckhead Suburb Trying to Secede from Atlanta Over Violent Crime

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Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp delivered a blow this week to the wealthy suburban Buckhead neighborhood’s effort to secede from the city of Atlanta over violent crime. 

The issue is tentatively scheduled for a vote before the state legislature Thursday. 

On Tuesday night, Kemp’s executive counsel David Dove outlined in a two-page memo with at least a dozen questions regarding Senate Bills 113 and 114, which passed in a Senate committee on Monday, marking the first time the secession legislation advanced out of committee in the Georgia General Assembly.

Dove demanded the governor’s Senate floor leaders, Bo Hatchett and Mike Hodges, evaluate the proposal, citing “constitutional and statutory challenges” which could “retailor the cloth of governance for Georgia’s municipalities in ways that will ripple into a future of unforeseen outcomes.” 

Supporters of the secession, including Republican Georgia Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, say Atlanta is not doing enough to control crime and that Buckhead residents are not getting their tax money’s worth from municipal services. If they succeed, residents would vote on forming a new city in a referendum.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp's office demanded state legislators evaluate the constitutionality of a proposal for Buckhead to secede from Atlanta.

Dove questioned whether proposals to assign a portion of Atlanta’s bond debt to the new city would be legal and suggested that secessions could leave Atlanta and other cities unable to pay their debts. Dove said the plan could wreck the ability of Georgia cities to borrow money.

He also challenged the legality of the plans of Buckhead City proponents to collect taxes for the Atlanta city school system and continue enrolling students in it even after leaving Atlanta.

“How is this action constitutional given (1) Buckhead would lie outside the jurisdictional limits of Atlanta, (2) no referendum is proposed for residents to ratify such taxation, and (3) the Georgia Constitution fails to give any power to cities and counties to engage in the education of their residents outside of independent school districts?” Dove wrote. “If students are not able to remain in the Atlanta Independent School System, are Fulton County schools able and equipped to manage the influx of students that would then be added to their rolls?” 

Buckhead City Committee CEO Bill White unveils new Buckhead City signage at an event for GOP then-candidate for Lt. Gov. Burt Jones in October. Two bills supporting the proposal cleared a state Senate panel earlier this week.

State Sen. Jason Esteves, a Democrat who represents parts of Atlanta, applauded the memo from Kemp’s office, saying the legislation to allow the Atlanta suburb to break away represents “at best half-baked plans that would endanger the livelihoods of all Georgians, especially my Buckhead constituents.” 

However, supporters of the breakaway say Buckhead residents have become targets for violent crime, and the proposal comes on the heels of the recent indictment of a homeless man with a long rap sheet for the murder of a Buckhead grandmother killed in her garage by the suspect allegedly trying to steal her Lexus. 

“I remain committed to fighting for a united Atlanta,” Esteves told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “and I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will take the Kemp administration’s concerns to heart and put a stop to the dangerous ‘Buckhead City’ legislation.”

An aerial view of luxury homes in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta. The state legislature is set to vote on its secession Thursday.

Kemp has forged a close relationship with current Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, a Democrat. Both Dickens and the city’s business leaders are bitterly opposed to secession, along with Atlanta’s overwhelmingly Democratic legislative delegation. Democrats say supporters of Buckhead City are a noisy minority of residents in the area. No Atlanta lawmakers are sponsoring the bills.

The Atlanta school system also urged supporters to lobby Jones and senators against the bill.

“Formation of a City of Buckhead City would have a disastrous impact on the entire school district,” the city’s Board of Education wrote in a Wednesday statement.

Buckhead City Committee reportedly says Atlanta Public Schools would still be required to serve Buckhead students if the suburb breaks away or be liable for $300 million a year. 

Source: FOX News

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