Road to Milton County goes through Atlanta

One name you won’t see on the ballot this November is Milton, as in the once and maybe future county that we currently call north Fulton.

A constitutional amendment to allow the re-creation of former counties — Milton, like Campbell to the south, merged with Fulton in the 1930s — didn’t come up for a vote in the Legislature this spring. So, a public referendum must wait.

The bid to split Georgia’s most populous county has some powerful supporters, including the House’s speaker pro tem, Rep. Jan Jones, R-Alpharetta. It isn’t going away.

But neither are misgivings among the Fulton lawmakers and citizens — including yours truly — who’d be left behind after a split. And the legislative math is tricky for any attempt to pass the amendment without support from the rest of the Atlanta and Fulton delegations.

So, the pro-Milton crowd needs to make the case that the rest of Fulton would be better off, too. In an interview in her Capitol office Thursday, that’s just what Jones tried to do.

“The way the legislation’s written,” she said, “Atlanta could say, ‘Enough. We want to consolidate with Fulton County. South Fulton, go have a good day. North Fulton, have a good day.’ They have their own school system; it would be simple. And we have models for that already in the state, with [consolidated city-county governments in] Columbus and Augusta, and Athens.”

Consolidation, she said, would allow Atlanta and all or part of the remainder of Fulton to eliminate duplicate services and staff, and then fund needed changes or cut taxes.

“I lived in Atlanta about as long as I have lived in north Fulton, and enjoyed living in both,” she said. “But I will tell you that the overall sum of the taxes, and some of the intractable problems that I ran into as a resident … told me that Atlanta in particular needs real reform, structurally. There’s only so much people will pay in taxes, or they’ll leave. And I think Atlanta is there …

“I’ve heard the mayor [Kasim Reed] quoted, and he’s got some long-term problems that are facing the city. … He is going to be hampered by the total sum of the taxes that folks there pay now. You can’t just tax your way out of it. They’ve tried.”

A merged Atlanta-Fulton County would still be the state’s fourth-largest local government (Milton County would rank fifth), so she said it would retain the wherewithal to meet its needs: “You’d have Atlanta, really I think, in the driver’s seat, controlling its destiny. … They have a deeper tax base than either … end of the county.”

Too-big government isn’t the only problem. Jones said some governments and school districts in Georgia are too small.

“When you have [some] school systems that are smaller than individual high schools, it doesn’t take a genius to realize, it’s not possible for … some of the very small school systems, no matter how hard they try, or how good a job they do, to offer the broad array of opportunities that students need. …

“The same is true with local governments. In some cases, you can’t get … the economies of scale to serve the public.”

Still, Jones said she doesn’t consider herself “the champion or the catalyst behind changing how local governments work in other parts of the state … I feel very deeply that’s a local issue for them to decide.”

In the case of Fulton and Milton, a commitment from Atlanta officials to seize the opportunities that Jones outlined for the city would go a long way toward persuading local skeptics to decide to get on board.

123 comments Add your comment

Linda

September 10th, 2010
7:42 pm

First! Not interested.

Tommy Maddox

September 10th, 2010
8:34 pm

Then don’t comment.

Tommy Maddox

September 10th, 2010
8:35 pm

It will be great for the North if it does happen. Atlanta however will become Detroit South.

vuduchld

September 10th, 2010
9:22 pm

If the citizens want to stake it out on their own, fine, I don’t have a problem. Just remember this, when that door closes, it won’t open back, ever. What I want to see is these “know-it-alls” to fund EVERYTHING themselves, even an airport. They shouldn’t be allowed to use ANY services that is currently provided by Atlanta. If you walk, walk out on your own, no more hand outs folks!!

Mark

September 10th, 2010
9:24 pm

You’re right Tommy …. it would be a very positive move for North Fulton but I think the politicians and many City of Atlanta residents will go down kicking and screaming to stop any consolidation efforts. I used to live in South Fulton and I think many residents there would be against annexation efforts as well….times are changing so anything is possible.

Hillbilly Deluxe

September 10th, 2010
9:34 pm

Milton County was originally formed in 1857, from parts of Cobb, Cherokee, and Forsyth counties. Rather than forming a “new” county, the cost effective way to go, might be to just fold it back into the 3 original counties. It’s not for me to decide, though; I don’t have a dog in the hunt.

Linda

September 10th, 2010
9:41 pm

It’s the eve of 9/11/2001. What have we learned from that tragedy? Nothing! Most of us have no clue why the Islamic terrorists want us dead or even when the assaults on us began. Few Americans understand what we have in store for us & how we can counterbalance our venerability. God bless America despite our stupidity.

Legend of Len Barker

September 10th, 2010
10:51 pm

The Constitution of the State of Georgia says…

“Paragraph II. Number of counties limited; county boundaries and county sites; county consolidation. (a) There shall not be more than 159 counties in this state.

——————————————————————————–

Page: 205

(b) The metes and bounds of the several counties and the county sites shall remain as prescribed by law on June 30, 1983, unless changed under the operation of a general law.

(c) The General Assembly may provide by law for the consolidation of two or more counties into one or the division of a county and the merger of portions thereof into other counties under such terms and conditions as it may prescribe; but no such consolidation, division, or merger shall become effective unless approved by a majority of the qualified voters voting thereon in each of the counties proposed to be consolidated, divided, or merged.”

http://neptune3.galib.uga.edu/ssp/cgi-bin/legis-idx.pl?sessionid=71ec186b-17511f6621-2227&type=law&byte=427236291

So, who is going to volunteer to kill their county so Milton can return?

(Georgia initially had a limit of 145 counties, but passed amendments to get it to 161. The updated Constitution closed that loophole. For anyone confused, Peach County – created in 1929 – was 161. Milton and Campbell merged with Fulton on January 1, 1932.)

Amy in the ATL

September 10th, 2010
11:33 pm

I’m an Atlanta taxpayer and I say, let it happen! I want OUT of Fulton County. Complaining about city taxes? A full 1/3 of my taxes go to Fulton County……which doesn’t provide police, fire, school or much of anything else for that matter to the City of Atlanta. I can at least reconcile my City taxes (post Mayor Campbell, that is) with services provided. But my Fulton County tax is a black hole. We in the city of Atlanta proper are subsidizing communities in North and South Fulton. We should be the ones to secede…and we will take that business tax revenue with us, thank you very much.

Jon

September 10th, 2010
11:39 pm

Jan Jones won’t rest until every Georgia citizen has their own personal county!

Ronin

September 10th, 2010
11:46 pm

I have to agree with Tommy. Atlanta depends of the tax revenue of North Fulton to balance expenses and services in other areas of the county. Without the NF tax revenue, they will be unable to maintain services.

Chris in ATL

September 11th, 2010
12:45 am

For Amy in the ATL: Actually, it is very easy to see where the full 1/3 of your taxes end up, when you consider the quality of services that Fulton County does provide. Fulton provides the Sheriff (e.g. Jackie Barrett), a Correctional Center (refer to the various Federal lawsuits over it) , the Fulton County Courts (Terry Nichols), and the Fulton County 911 (”Even if you’re lucky enough to reach us during your emergency, we probably won’t dispatch help to the correct address”) System.

In short, your taxes pay for (1) those services, (2) the attorneys who represent Fulton when Fulton is sued, and (3) for the judgements Fulton ends up paying out.

Mrs. Norris

September 11th, 2010
1:19 am

Very interesting Kyle. I’m glad Rep. Jones mentioned that Atlanta has a deeper tax base than both ends of the county. Hear folks up north talk, they’re the only ones paying taxes. I guess Ronin missed that sentence, or perhaps he meant to say “the county” instead of “Atlanta”.

Road Scholar

September 11th, 2010
5:54 am

Mrs Norris: North Fulton is very Republican/conservative and, in step with their mantra, they are over taxed (not); they want prime services though. But some of their revenue is used to “balance ‘ the books for south Fulton. What commercial development, on scale with Roswell, Alpharetta, and Sandy Springs ( and now Milton and Johns Creek) does the south end of the county have to develop revenue? Chattahoochee Hill Country? Not even close….yet. For years the urban and south Fulton Commissioners shifted money to prop up the south, esp in transportation projects.

Ronin and Tommy: Taxes collected in North Fulton do pay for certain services in Fulton County in the COA but most programs in the COA are paid for with COA monies.

Legend: Good work! The number of counties in Ga needs to be reduced overall. Many in south Georgia spend most of their tax dollars supporting their government instead of services due to the low density of residents when compared to the more urban areas.

marko

September 11th, 2010
7:09 am

Arizona has 16 counties. Georgia seems to think that 159 aren’t enough. Across th U.S. the average number of counties per state is 62. The average population per county is about 100,000. In Georgia the average population per county is about 62,000. On the surface, I’d say we already have enough counties. However, I kinda like the sound of Marko county. You gotta admit it has a nice ring to it.

Jefferson

September 11th, 2010
7:32 am

Yea well, I wish could leave both the county and the city and just do like I please too. Sound like a bunch of babies that won’t get active and fight for their share in the county revenue. I’d vote no.

TaxPayer

September 11th, 2010
8:07 am

It looks to me as though the solution to disagreement, confrontation, problem resolution, etc., here in Georgia is to break up. One hundred and fifty-nine county governments and we still cannot get along. Well, splitting up does create another batch of government jobs, doesn’t it. So, that’s got to be good for the economy. Right. Perhaps we need to let all the city governments secede from the counties and form new counties from all of them. Whatever it takes to help out us lowly taxpayers.

Bush's fault.

September 11th, 2010
8:14 am

If only Atlanta would “cut spending”, eh Kyle?

moron

SouthernLiving

September 11th, 2010
8:17 am

North Fulton residents are tired of being Atlanta’s Cash Cow. Milton was only taken in by Fulton County because of dire financial times during the Depression. Just let Milton reform..it is insane that North Fulton residents must drive 1 hour to Atlanta for jury duty.

J.B. STONER

September 11th, 2010
8:56 am

Leaving the slums/thugs of Atlanta, heading to Milton, people need to ‘put the petal to the metal’ and say ’so long crime, drugs and thugs, life is great’.

The air is cleaner, the sky is bluer, the rear view mirror is out the window.

Ah yes, a change is coming…..

Ayn Rant

September 11th, 2010
9:50 am

Linda, since you rudely disregard the subject Kyle has put before us …

The 9/11 terrorist attack was punishment for the US support of Israel and the secular governments in the Arab countries (Saudi Arabia’s king, Egypt’s “fake” democracy, etc.). Al Qaeda strives to unite the Arab countries under Islamic fundamentalist rule, and to destroy Israel. They don’t give a rat’s butt about America’s “freedom” or way of life; they just want us to butt out of the Middle East.

Regrettably, the 9/11 attacks succeeded beyond all expectations of the plotters. We Americans panicked, surrendered our freedoms to draconian “security measures”, disrupted our commerce and industry, and started useless wars on two fronts. In our addled state of mind, we elected for a second term the incompetent President who had ignored the warning on the al Qaeda threat given by his national security advisers two months before the 9/11 attacks. Our elected President kept the panic going, and under cover of “national security”, he proceeded to rack up federal deficits and the national debt as never before in history. He then presided over the Katrina fiasco and the 2008 economic blowout.

What do we have in store? More terrorist incidents by disaffected and unhinged persons acting on their own or in small groups, but nothing so clever and diabolical as the 9/11 attacks. Al Qaeda has inflicted the punishment intended for the US and has turned its attention back to undermining the Moslem countries.

Now, can we regain some of the sanity and freedom that we lost in the panic after 9/11? And, how about the topic of the day:creating some more useless counties in Georgia?

jm

September 11th, 2010
10:06 am

Splitting up Fulton is bad governance in the sense that Atlanta MSA already has too many jurisdictions.

But if it were to happen, here’s the only proviso: The new counties would have to take their pro-rata share of Fulton debt based on the tax digest. There’s $1.5 Billion in liabilities. If the new counties won’t take their pro-rata share of the debt, it’s just state permitted robbery. And I’m an Independent, but I’d vote and lobby tooth and nail that unless these stupid idiots want to take their fair share of debt, this deal is dead.

Therefore, I think this whole thing is dead and its mind boggling why people keep bringing it up, as much as I and everyone else hates Fulton county gov’t.

J.B. STONER

September 11th, 2010
10:18 am

Ayn Rant……. carry your jihadist/muslim loving self back to Iran or whereever you come and dont act like we deserved what we got 9 years ago.People like you need to be found and uthinized…….

Tom

September 11th, 2010
10:19 am

As with so many other things cooked up in Conservative Fantasyland, it simply ain’t gonna happen.

Raymond Huffman

September 11th, 2010
10:22 am

Ho-hum, another right-winged response that totally goes against their continuous cries of “smaller government.”

The faulty right-winged assumption here is that if North Fulton broke off and became Milton county, then all the suburbanites who spend 2 hours driving 10 miles downtown every day would no longer have to pay taxes to keep their expensive, high-rise offices from becoming dilapidated. Sales tax on lunch will not foot the bill. The lost revenues would have to come from somewhere, and a separate Fulton county would neither want to or have to allocate money for all the office space.

If you want to pay lower taxes, move to Rockdale or Clayton counties! But keep in mind, you’ll have to go to their schools. And North Fulton schools are only “good” by Georgia standards. Keeping that tax money local will do nothing more than create windfall profits for standardized test companies and electronic chalkboard manufacturers.

Milton county = bigger government. Its a bad idea. For proof, google the how much the mayor of Johns Creek spent in tax money to close down a Love Shack. Johns Creek and Milton were supposed to keep more tax money local. There has been zero benefit to anybody but a few republican bureaucrats and mega-churches.

Queen Emma Darnell

September 11th, 2010
10:58 am

If you have combined Atlanta/Fulton government, what are the likes of Emma Darnell and company going to do? They wont have the ability to waste huge amounts of taxpayer money on themselves, and what about limos and jobs for all their friends that do nothing….

jabster

September 11th, 2010
11:00 am

Get Taliaferro and Greene counties to merge. Taliaferro is the smallest county in GA with population under 2000 residents. Nobody knows how to pronounce it correctly anyway (Tolliver). Then Milton can split out of Fulton.

Georgia has the second most counties of any state, behind Texas. Some of these smaller counties need to be merged into others.

J.B. STONER

September 11th, 2010
11:00 am

Hey Ray-RAY……….

Like guns in your face???

Stay in Clayton, DEKalb, and in city of Atlanta .

Used to be (and not too long ago) , motor through Fayette Co. with a Fulton Co. tag and your arse would get pulled over to see what you were up to.

Man, the good old days…………………..

Scott

September 11th, 2010
11:01 am

Jan Jones wants local control unless of course it has to do with MARTA…then she decides (her and Jill Chambers of course)

J.B. STONER

September 11th, 2010
11:20 am

Used to know what m.a.r.t.a. stood for .

Anyone remember, please refresh my memory, please…………….

barking frog

September 11th, 2010
11:42 am

jabster 11:00 Georgia has the second most counties of any state, behind Texas. Some of these smaller counties need to be merged into others
———————————–
Remember ‘Divide and conquer’, there’s power in numbers. The cost of postage stamp
county governments to the citizens of Georgia is unbelievable and the same with
mini municipals…minimum population densities for both should be established and
boundaries adjusted accordingly as legislative districts are.

bob

September 11th, 2010
11:45 am

Why should n fulton put money in the pockets of the likes of emma darnell ? how many wasted millions on putt putt ? Now they want to build a 5 mil community center by Charlie Brown airport.

bob

September 11th, 2010
11:46 am

The fact is, fulton needs n fulton way more than n fulton needs fulton.

North Fulton Mom

September 11th, 2010
12:23 pm

So what if Fulton needs N. Fulton “more?” That we are ABLE to provide support to the south is a BLESSING, not a curse.

North Fulton would NOT BE a thriving, successful, well-manicured suburb if not for the metropolitan city a few miles to the south of us. We enjoy nice [relatively] safe neighborhoods, stable property values, well-kept roads, good schools, and plenty of shopping because Atlanta is a hub of career opportunities of which we took advantage, not because “we” attracted them here on our own.

Hubris is tacky.

Mrs. Norris

September 11th, 2010
12:25 pm

Jabster and Barking frog, you make a good point. There are a lot of counties that need to be merged. Douglas County (of which I’m a resident) should merge with Carroll County. I’m happy with my county government but Douglas County is a rather small county, as far as land mass. Look at it on the map. You think, “what’s that little county doing there?” It so obviously should be a part of Carroll County.

East Point and Hapeville are so connected to Atlanta, they should stay with Atlanta if it becomes its own county. College Park and Union City could merge with Clayton County. Fairburn and Union City could merge with Fayette, although Fairburn and Union City have a very small tax base and Fayette County may think it’s just not in their interest. That’s basically what Coweta County said about Chattahoochee Hills.

Anyway, that’s just a few suggestions. Georgia really does need to consolidate a lot of counties. It would save tax payers a lot of money, and smaller government is always a good thing.

Mrs. Norris

September 11th, 2010
12:35 pm

Oh, I meant to say Fairburn and Palmetto could merge with Fayette.

North Fulton Mom, the world would be a better place if there were more people like you. Hubris is indeed tacky and kindness and compassion are beautiful.

That's Just Peachy

September 11th, 2010
1:04 pm

@ North Fulton Mom- Kudos to you- “North Fulton would NOT BE a thriving, successful, well-manicured suburb if not for the metropolitan city a few miles to the south of us”

Precisely. I’m not sure if I buy Jones’ argument that Atlanta’s revenues would be made up, and if anyone thinks that North Fulton would continue to prosper if Atlanta slips further down, you’re kidding yourself. The entire Metro area is still dependent on a successful Atlanta.

bob

September 11th, 2010
1:56 pm

Raymond Huffmann, if it hurts the N Fulton group, they have to live with it. It seems as though you want them you don’t want them to split. Is it because you are wanting to help the N Fulton group or the rest of Fulton ?

bob

September 11th, 2010
2:03 pm

North Fulton Mom

September 11th, 2010
12:23 pm
So what if Fulton needs N. Fulton “more?” That we are ABLE to provide support to the south is a BLESSING, not a curse.
You are in the minority, Having hacks like Darnell run things into the ground is no blessing. Manicured lawns and safe neighborhoods are because of the people that live there, not because N Fulton has Atlanta to the south. Furthermore, most people on your side don’t admit the unequal split in services, at least you do.

J.B. STONER

September 11th, 2010
3:47 pm

Fayette Co. wants NO part of lowly Fairburn or Union City.
They don’t tolerate the crimes associated in those cities.
Go to jail in Fayette, your butt goes to jail…….

Brad

September 11th, 2010
3:49 pm

@ JB

“Moving Arrogant Rednecks Through Atlanta”

JF McNamara

September 11th, 2010
3:52 pm

Milton County has been part of Fulton since 1931, and was annexed because it was broke. None of the people there have nostalgia for Milton. Fact is, North Fulton has ALL of its wealth because it was close to Atlanta and part of Fulton County since it was bankrupt when Fulton rescued it.

The companies in Alpharetta are located because they are close to Atlanta. This is part greed and part racial, and its all wrong. Being included in Fulton, the North Fulton area is a nice place to work and live as evidenced by the enormous growth. If they hadn’t done such a good job for you in the past, you wouldn’t be successful and whining to leave now. How about paying your taxes, thanking the Fulton commissioners, and shutting up. You’ve got it pretty good right now.

Hawkeye

September 11th, 2010
3:54 pm

Then recreate Campbell County to the south as well. Good thing Kasim Reed’s proposal to create a city of South Fulton out of the area failed or it would have been misnamed. (Kasim aslo wanted the Sandtown area to join South Fulton over Atlanta. I wonder ho he feels about it now.)

MiltonMan

September 11th, 2010
4:00 pm

I cannot wait until we get out of the racists city of Atlanta & Fulton County. Milton County will prosper without the welfare state known as Atlanta & South Fulton. We will be able to keep our tax dollars & not have to ship them to the dumpy Grady.

MiltonMan

September 11th, 2010
4:03 pm

JF = moron. North Fulton is doing well because of the people who live there dufus. Very few single moms & very few welfare recipients. Look at our schools – best in the state. Are our good schools because of the great schools you have ion Atlanta??? You know the ones who have to have teachers & administrators change test scores to even pass.

Palin fan

September 11th, 2010
4:06 pm

This would be awesome. It would make a nice break with all of those filthy people in south Fulton

Brad

September 11th, 2010
4:07 pm

@MiltonMan

I’d like to point out that “dumpy Grady” has the best trauma ER in North Georgia, if not the entire southeast. So when your sorry ass is badly injured in a car crash in Milton, you’ll be flown here to the racist welfare state.

J.B. STONER

September 11th, 2010
4:14 pm

sorry Brad –

‘Red Neck’ is 2 words……….

Brad

September 11th, 2010
4:18 pm

Both forms are accepted, JB.

redneck
- 5 dictionary results
red·neck
   /ˈrɛdˌnɛk/ Show Spelled [red-nek] Show IPA Informal: Often Disparaging .
–noun
1.
an uneducated white farm laborer, esp. from the South.
2.
a bigot or reactionary, esp. from the rural working class.
–adjective
3.
Also, red-necked . narrow, prejudiced, or reactionary: a redneck attitude.
Use redneck in a Sentence
See images of redneck
Search redneck on the Web
Also, red-neck .

Origin:
1820–30, Americanism ; red1 + neck
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2010.

J.B. STONER

September 11th, 2010
4:23 pm

Brad ===

Not what m.a.r.t.a. used to stand for………

Necks don’t travel on marta.