Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ

What is the South Cobb Alliance?

The South Cobb Alliance (SCA) is a non-profit organization comprised of neighbors in Mableton and unincorporated Austell who are studying whether the formation of a new city is both necessary and feasible to provide local control to our community. This initiative will benefit residents and businesses within three zip codes; 30168, 30106 and 30126. To be more specific, the 30168 is considered unincorporated Austell which includes the Six Flags/ Riverside communities. The 30106 community is also considered unincorporated Austell near the East West Connector and WellStar Hospital. The 30126 community is known as Mableton which is also unincorporated Cobb.

How did this come about?

The South Cobb Alliance is the outgrowth of different civic meetings regarding cityhood held during 2015 and early 2017.

If we incorporate, will my taxes go up?

This is a YES, NO and even MAYBE question. There isn't any certainty until we complete the feasibility study. The study will examine our current tax digest and evaluate each service to determine what we can financially handle. The last 5 cities to incorporate have done so without raising any taxes. We must also consider the cost to manage different services. For example, it is safe to assume, we can manage Zoning, Community Development, Parks and Recreation, Waste Removal and possibly even a library without raising taxes. However, if we decide we want to manage police, which is one of the most tax intensive services, there is a possibility of an increased tax to improve that particular service. As a city, we would need to vote to increase taxes.

Why explore formation of a new city?

• To provide local control to our community.

• To efficiently manage our tax dollars.

• To provide the level of service necessary for our growing community.

• To provide a voice to tens of thousands of people in this area who, in the opinion of many, have not a significant voice in decisions and policy making.

• Instead of five people representing over 750,000 citizens, a city might have one representative for every 10-12 thousand, and these would be people who live, work and play in our community.


What are the proposed city boundaries?


Wouldn’t a new city just be another layer of government?

No, it would be a shift of certain responsibilities from the county government overseeing 750,000 to a local board representing 87,500 people in this area. The resulting representation would be more direct with more accessible officials who live, work and play in our own community.

What are the services a city must provide?

There is a list of services mandated by Georgia law, and cities must provide provides at least three of the following services, either directly or by contract – O.C.G.A. § 36-30-7.1 (b)

•(A) Law enforcement;

•(B) Fire protection (which may be furnished by a volunteer fire force) and fire safety;

•(C) Road and street construction or maintenance;

•(D) Solid waste management;

•(E) Water supply or distribution or both;

•(F) Waste-water treatment;

•(G) Storm-water collection and disposal;

•(H) Electric or gas utility services;

•(I) Enforcement of building, housing, plumbing, and electrical codes and other similar codes;

•(J) Planning and zoning; and

•(K) Recreational facilities.

There are a number of models that can be used to structure a new city. For example, Sandy Springs is more of a full service city versus Peachtree Corners which has “city lite” structure covering planning, development, zoning and solid waste services only. Are all of the options being considered or is that something this group will review and make recommendations on which option(s) might work best?

Yes. Every city must provide at least three services to maintain its charter. The South Cobb Alliance will review the feasibility of each service and make recommendations, however, as a community, we will decide on what services we desire.

What are the three main types of city government?

The three main types of city governments are council-mayor (which can come with a strong mayor or with a weak mayor), council-manager, and commission (though very few cities actually have commission forms of government). Each of these has strengths and weaknesses.

What are the main strengths and weaknesses of the three basic types of city governments?

Strong Mayor–Council

The mayor serves as the city's chief executive officer and has full responsibility for the city's daily operations. Accordingly, the mayor normally possesses the power to hire and fire department heads and other city staff, to prepare and administer the city's budget, and to execute contracts. The mayor may also have the authority to appoint council committees, veto legislation passed by the city council, and appoint members to city advisory boards. In some cities, particularly larger ones, the mayor may appoint a professional administrator (often called the chief administrative officer or city administrator) to assist in carrying out the daily operations of the city.

The city council is responsible for enacting the city's policies, through the adoption of ordinances and/or resolutions. Although the mayor may possess the authority to veto actions of the city council, the council may possess authority to override the mayor's veto.

Weak Mayor–Council

Under the weak mayor–council form of government, the mayor and city council normally share the primary policymaking role, and the mayor fills the primary executive role. In many cities, however, the "weak" mayor's role is primarily ceremonial; the mayor possesses few, if any, of the executive powers provided to a "strong" mayor. For example, the mayor may not have the authority to appoint council committees, develop the city's budget, or veto actions of the city council. He or she may have limited authority to appoint department heads, subject to confirmation by the city council, but does not always possess the authority to fire department heads.

Council-Manager

The council-manager form of government was first advocated in the early 1900s by reformers who envisioned a more businesslike approach to municipal government. Thus, the structure of a municipality operating under the council-manager form of government is similar to that of a corporation. For example, the municipality's citizens are treated as shareholders who elect a city council to serve as their board of directors. The city council sets the city's policies and hires a professional manager to implement them.

Under the council-manager form of government, the mayor normally serves as the ceremonial head of the city. The mayor may be elected citywide or selected by the city council from among its members. He or she is usually a member of the legislative body (the city council) and, as such, does not possess the authority to veto legislation passed by the council.

The city manager is normally hired on the basis of experience and qualifications and serves at the pleasure of the city council. The manager typically possesses complete administrative authority over the city's operations, including the hiring and firing of department heads. He or she is also responsible for development and administration of the city's annual budget and for advising the mayor and council on matters affecting the city.

Commission

Under the commission form of government, the council members ("commissioners") are elected at large. A chair is normally selected from among the commissioners to preside at their meetings and to serve as the ceremonial head of the commission. The chair may be rotated on an annual basis. The commission form of government is unique in that each elected commissioner oversees one or more departments (e.g., police, recreation, water/sewer). Thus, this form of government combines legislative and executive responsibilities.

Although most of the county governments in Georgia are organized in the commission form, it is not used, in its purest sense, by municipalities. A few cities in Georgia, including Decatur, Rome, and Toccoa, refer to their legislative bodies as commissions rather than councils, but each of these three cities operates under the council-manager form of government with an appointed city manager.

Hiott, Perry. "Georgia's City Governments." New Georgia Encyclopedia. 06 June 2017. Web. 09 April 2018.

Will property taxes increase? Will taxes decrease?

No city should increase property taxes as long as a sustainable mix of commercial and residential property exists. Dunwoody has not raised property taxes and has still created budget surpluses of $2-3 million annually. In the view of the Alliance, the city charter would include a provision that property taxes could not be raised without the approval of voters in a referendum. Taxes could decrease if there was a budget surplus, but it could be that taxes will simply remain at current levels. That would be a decision for the local government and voters to decide.

Will the work of this group include alternate ways to address what is considered to be inadequate services/attention from the County besides incorporating as a city? (i.e. Annexation, Special Tax Districts, strengthening civic associations, etc.).

Yes. Part of the task of the South Cobb Alliance will be to evaluate the County government in its current form and to compare that to the needs and desires of residents in our community.

What’s the process?

1. Define our community. As some have asked, “who are we?”

2. Define the boundaries of a proposed city boundary.

3. Obtain community input and make adjustments to these definitions as necessary.

4. Commission a feasibility study of the defined area. Is there a sustainable balance of commercial and residential property to fund a city without raising property taxes?

5. Request that our elected officials introduce legislation (a placeholder bill in year one) to create a new city since only the General Assembly can provide authorization to create new cities.

6. If it is economically feasible and the community desires to move forward, during legislative year two, legislators will discuss the bill and vote on it. If the legislation passes and is signed into law, hold a vote in our community on whether the new city should be formed.

7. If voters approve the ballot, hold elections to seat government officials, and a transition committee would be appointed by the Governor to help the local government get up and running.

8. The initial and ongoing operation of the local government on the date set out in the bill creating the new city.

What is the relationship between a city and a county with regards to school districts and zoning? Will a new city have its own school district?

Currently, there is no relationship. At present, our State Constitution provides that no new school system could be established in a newly created city. It is possible, however, that this could change in the future. It goes without saying, however, that no city school system could be created in our area unless a new city is formed. Note: Decatur and Marietta school systems were created before this was added to the Constitution, and therefore were grandfathered in.

Will this help the school situation?

No. This IS NOT a reason for city incorporation. Presently, our State Constitution provides that no new school system could be established in a newly created city. The question regarding the impact on schools keeps coming up. To clarify:

1) A new city cannot create a new school system. Georgia’s Constitution does not allow this. City school systems such as Atlanta, Decatur and Marietta were formed prior to the constitutional prohibition.

2) A city’s boundaries have NO effect on the Cobb County School District’s attendance districts. Attendance districts will change only if Cobb County School District redistricts.

3) If an amendment is ever made to Georgia’s Constitution (which could be difficult) to allow new school districts, a city could potentially create a new school system if they so desired. It goes without saying, however, that no city school system could be created in our area unless a new city is formed.

In order to be a success, the new city would need sufficient commercial properties and tax revenue to relieve homeowners from taking on more of the tax burden. Is there sufficient commercial property for this to be a success? Who will be gathering data such as this to assist with analysis of this type?

The tax data will be gathered through requests and open-records requests to the County. The South Cobb Alliance will be tasked with analyzing the data.

How many Councils will the proposed city have?

The proposed city will have six (6) wards with an estimate of 11K persons per council, according to data from the 2010 census. Below you will see a snapshot of those councils.

HB 587 City of Mableton Incorporation

http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/20192020/184149.pdf

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