Buckhead residents want to formally secede from crime-plagued Atlanta, and if those same frustrated residents were to leave then their new city would run a budget surplus, according to a study from Valdosta State University.
Officials with Valdosta State University’s Center for South Georgia Regional Impact published the study this week.
Buckhead City Committee spokesman Paul Dusseault told The Georgia Star News on Tuesday that the people who conducted and wrote the study did so objectively.
“The university is a respected school and has experience in economic development. They have a whole unit. A special school for this stuff. They are on the Georgia General Assembly’s approved list of universities sanctioned to do this work. The writers say in the executive summary that they are not endorsing the idea of Buckhead City,” Dusseault said.
“We were only asked the mathematical question. If these taxes were diverted from Atlanta, would Buckhead City have enough to operate itself? That is the feasibility part of a feasibility study. They say the study is not perceived to be a political document. We are only answering the question that is required to be answered by the General Assembly in the program path for communities applying for cityhood.”
Valdosta State University Center for South Georgia Regional Impact officials did not return The Star News’ request for comment before Tuesday’s stated deadline.
The feasibility study reports that the proposed Buckhead City should expect annual revenue of approximately $203 million and annual expenses of approximately $90 million. This would generate a surplus of approximately $113 million that Buckhead residents may use for what the study said is “long-neglected infrastructure maintenance.”
An emailed press release about the feasibility study also said the following:
• “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 a feasibility study before anyone may consider legislation proposing the incorporation of Buckhead City. Georgia Representative Todd Jones (R-South Forsyth) introduced such a bill earlier this year.
Atlanta made national headlines this year after FOX News host Tucker Carlson described, in sometimes graphic terms, how crime rates in Buckhead have soared. Carlson also said certain of Atlanta’s politicians incited that violence.
Carlson said Atlanta leaders have made too many inflammatory remarks about Buckhead, which is wealthy. He said district residents have endured that abuse in silence. Buckhead residents account for a fifth of Atlanta’s entire budget, he said. Carlson said Buckhead residents shouldn’t have to “send huge sums of money to a city that hates them.” He blamed Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms for motivating hundreds of Atlanta Police Department officers to exit the force.
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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Bill White” by Buckhead City. Background Photo “Buckhead Skyline” by Mike Gonzalez. CC BY-SA 3.0.