Buckhead City Will Not Move Forward After Bill Fails In Senate

Buckhead will remain a part of Atlanta for the near future. On March 2, the Georgia Senate voted on a bill that would have allowed Buckhead to secede from the city of Atlanta. 

SB 114 failed by a vote of 33-23. 

Earlier this week, Senate’s State and Local Governmental Operations Committee passed S.B. 114 by a 4-3 vote led by Republican lawmakers. The committee is comprised of several Republicans who do not live in the metro Atlanta area such as Sen. Rick Williams of Milledgeville; Sen. Sam Watson of Moultrie; and Sen. Randy Robertson of Cataula. 

The four Republicans on the committee supported the bill, while the three Democrats opposed it. Democrat Sen. Jason Esteves called the proposed bill a “half-baked pie” that would have a devastating impact on the city of Atlanta and Atlanta Public School system. 

Gov. Brian Kemp’s office would agree with Esteves assessment that the idea of Buckhead City did not come with a real plan. 

Kemp’s Executive Counsel David Dove sent a memo that urged lawmakers to resolve several issues with S.B. 114 before moving it forward to the Senate. Legally, it could be a quagmire for Buckhead to become its own city and those who proposed secession have yet to provide answers on key issues.  

Dove questioned how the bill could impact municipal bonds and how widespread default could occur. There is also the issue of students who live in Buckhead who attend Atlanta Public Schools. For instance, North Atlanta High is located in Buckhead and is a part of APS. If Buckhead becomes a city, students and schools would be impacted. 

What will happen to Atlanta-owned properties such as parks that Buckhead City may not purchase? Parks that are owned by the City of Atlanta are patrolled by the Atlanta Police Department. A new city could cause more confusion when it comes to safety. 

The bill is also calls for an overt theft of Atlanta by allowing Buckhead to purchase Chastain and Memorial Park for $100 per acre, Atlanta fire stations for $5,000 each, and buildings and schools for $1,000 each. In Buckhead, an acre sells for at least $1 million and buildings can also be sold in the millions. 

Prior to the vote, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said he would “continue to work with the Senate to put an end to this legislation before it has disastrous consequences.”

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