Proposed Buckhead City Would Run a Budget Surplus, Says New Feasibility Study
Tuesday, September 14th, 2021
Buckhead City is more than “feasible.” After accommodating start-up costs, Buckhead City would likely run a budget surplus, according to a formal feasibility study conducted by the Valdosta State University Center for South Georgia Regional Impact.
The feasibility study reports that the proposed Buckhead City should expect annual revenue of approximately $203 million and annual expenses of approximately $90 million, generating a surplus of approximately $113 million which may be used for long neglected infrastructure maintenance.
“We’ve been saying all along that taxes paid to the City of Atlanta have not generated a fair return for Buckhead in terms of city services,” said Bill White, CEO of the Buckhead City Committee, a group of volunteers advocating for an independent Buckhead City. “This feasibility study demonstrates that point inarguably, mathematically and once and for all. Given the same tax revenue, the administration of Buckhead City would deliver more and better services to the people of Buckhead, starting with a highly effective and properly compensated police force with a minimum of 250 officers.”
Other highlights and implications of the feasibility study:
According to public records, the City of Atlanta’s annual operating budget is $2.04 billion. An additional $1.4 billion is allotted to Atlanta Public Schools. From that combined total of $3.44 billion, the feasibility study asserts, only $203 million, or nearly 6 percent, will be required to manage a newly formed Buckhead City. At the same time, the population for which the City of Atlanta is responsible will decrease by 20 percent.
Buckhead City would continue to utilize (and fund through taxes and fees) the Atlanta Public Schools, city services like water supply and trash collection, and Fulton County libraries.
Buckhead City would have its own mayor, city council, city administration, fire department, municipal courts, parks department, public works department, etc. Assumed expenditures are comparable to the Atlanta-area cities of Roswell and Sandy Springs.
Buckhead City would also have its own police department. The feasibility study projects the starting salary for a Buckhead City patrol officer to be $55,000. (The starting salary at the Atlanta Police Department is $48,500 and the Buckhead City Committee has a stated goal of offering up to $70,000.) Using an FBI recommendation of 2.5 officers per 1,000 residents, the study projects 250 Buckhead City police officers, 175 of them patrol officers. (There are currently 80 Atlanta police officers assigned to Buckhead, which corresponds to Atlanta Police Department Zone 2.)
The Georgia House of Representatives Governmental Affairs Committee requires that a feasibility study be conducted before legislation proposing the incorporation of Buckhead City may be considered. Georgia Rep. Todd Jones (R-South Forsyth) introduced such a bill earlier this year. A similar bill introduced by Georgia Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) recently was signed by Georgia Sen. Clint Dixon (R-Gwinnett), Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s floor leader.
“There is now no question – and it is no surprise – that a Buckhead City would be financially feasible,” said Dixon. “People deserve to live without fear as they drive down the road or walk in a mall. The City of Atlanta has failed in epic proportions, and Buckhead has every right and reason to form a city with a strong police force and real leadership.”
“After reviewing the feasibility study, it is crystal clear that Buckhead City will help make the citizens of Buckhead safe and allow them more control of their own destiny in a fiscally responsible way,” said Beach.
“Self-governance is a bedrock principle of our republic,” said Jones. “The residents of the proposed Buckhead City should be given the opportunity in November 2022 to vote on incorporation.”
“The feasibility study makes clear that any reduction of tax revenues to the City of Atlanta resulting from the formation of Buckhead City would be offset by the reduction of responsibility for police, roads and parks,” said White. “Those involved in the Buckhead City movement love Atlanta, and we’re certain that this incorporation will make the entire metropolitan region safer and more prosperous.”
The feasibility study is available at https://www.becnow.com/feasibility.