Byrne floats idea for an East Cobb city
by Jon Gillooly
August 09, 2012 01:47 AM | 10535 views | 57 57 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
(MDJ Staff/Laura Moon)
(MDJ Staff/Laura Moon)
slideshow
EAST COBB — Bill Byrne has proposed creating a city of East Cobb to let the area determine its own growth.

“Cobb County is driven by the Board of Commissioners with regard to growth issues,” he said. “If you create a city … the city council determines the growth policies, and when the economy comes back, east Cobb is going to explode again, and I think they should be the ones to determine what they’re going to look like.”

Cobb, which has a population of just under 700,000 in its 345 square miles, according to the 2010 Census, has six cities. By comparison, Gwinnett County, with 825,000 residents over 437 square miles, and Fulton County, with 950,000 residents over 535 square miles, have 16 and 14 cities.

The boundary lines would be drawn by the Cobb Legislative Delegation, and the east Cobb voters who live in that district would then decide whether to become Cobb’s seventh city, said Byrne, who is challenging incumbent Tim Lee in the Aug. 21 runoff to serve as county chairman.

Under the proposal, which Byrne made Wednesday, the county government would continue to provide water, sewer, police and fire services to the new city for a nominal fee of one dollar per year.

The proposed city would be governed by an elected mayor and five City Council members, with wards drawn by the Cobb Delegation.

Byrne said the county government would provide $1 million from its capital improvements budget for the design and construction of a city hall and provide temporary meeting locations until construction is complete. The design, construction and location of the new city hall would be determined by the new mayor and city council, he said.

“East Cobb County has always been the fulcrum around the growth for all of Cobb County,” Byrne said. “It’s the biggest success story of the county for the last 20 years, and will be for a long time to come.”

Byrne said he’s watched with interest as cities in Fulton County across the river have formed, along with Brookhaven, DeKalb’s newest city.

“East Cobb has always been enormously involved in the decision-making process, particularly with regard to infrastructure and zonings,” he said. “Once the market comes back, it’s going to start in east Cobb, so I thought that this was a very good time and timing to energize a discussion to create the city of east Cobb and allow the people there to say yes or no to it.”

If voters say yes, they would define their own future rather than having to rely on the Board of Commissioners, a board they have 40 percent representation on, he said.

“It’s a concept to begin the discussion, not to end it, and obviously the two district commissioners — Bob Ott and JoAnn Birrell — would have to buy into it or it doesn’t fly, and the Delegation would have to buy into it or they won’t create it,” Byrne said.

Byrne said there is no significant cost involved because the county is already providing the public safety and infrastructure for the area.

“The county itself does not lose a single tax dollar because every city resident pays property taxes, and they would have to create a funding source as they choose to manage their affairs,” Byrne said. “When you take off the table the two most expensive government liabilities — public safety and infrastructure — then they can look at facilities that they choose and hopefully do much like the city of Sandy Springs did and privatize most of it.”

Assuming everyone agreed, the city could be formed as soon as next year, he said.

Byrne said he hasn’t discussed the idea yet with Ott or Birrell because it’s a campaign issue, and he “didn’t want to draw them into it and make them responsible for anything.”

Ott said he was receptive to listening to what Byrne had to say.

“Obviously the discussion will need to consider the cost implications to the people in East Cobb, because a city in Georgia has to provide a certain number of essential services to be classified a city,” Ott said. “I have a good relationship with the Legislature, and if we can find a workable solution that does not increase the cost to the citizens in the proposed area, I’m willing to explore this idea.”

Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) said the motivating factor behind the creation of the cities in north Fulton and DeKalb counties has been dissatisfaction with the county governments.

“It’s born out of frustration of not having a government that works for you, and people when that happens they tend to want to localize it,” he said. “That’s a smart thing, to make sure that your government working for you is closest to home, so that’s what we saw with those (cities of Sandy Springs, Milton and Johns Creek). I think that’s what we saw with (newly formed) Brookhaven.”

Rogers said he doesn’t get the sense that east Cobb residents are frustrated by their county government.

“The local government seems to work pretty well,” Rogers said.

Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin said there are advantages to living in a city rather than an unincorporated area.

“The smallest form of government is the best form of government,” Tumlin said. “Even though we’re 56,000 people (in the city of Marietta), I think the people that you see at the grocery store, Marietta High football games, there’s a direct correlation of seven representatives (on the City Council) to 56,000 (Marietta residents) versus, I mean (west Cobb county commissioner Helen Goreham) has people she could never know. (Marietta Councilman Grif Chalfant) can almost name everyone in his ward, so the representation is so good that it works. To me, that’s the strength of it.”

Told of Byrne’s proposal, Tumlin admitted surprise.

“He would give up power,” Tumlin said.

Another attractive aspect about being a city is that cities can collect franchise fees whereas counties cannot, Tumlin said.

“Everything that Southern Bell does, we get to charge 4 percent on them,” Tumlin said. “Atlanta Gas Light — 4 percent franchise fee. Cities can do it, but counties cannot. So they pick up 4 percent right off the bat. That has always been a major advantage of a city. Counties hate it. It just the way the law was originally drawn up, and they can’t do it now because it would look like a tax increase.”

Tumlin also has noticed the demand for the creation of cities in the metro region.

“Maybe Byrne has raised a good point,” Tumlin said. “East Cobb, some of our big areas, they don’t have the sense of community that I think we do.”

Tumlin pointed out one thing that could not be done is for east Cobb to create its own school system, because that would take a constitutional amendment.

Former county chairman and current Attorney General Sam Olens of east Cobb, who is supporting Lee over Byrne in the race, opposes the idea.

“East Cobb is a great place to live, just like many other incorporated and unincorporated areas of our county,” Olens said.

Is candidate Byrne's proposal for a city in East Cobb a good idea?


Comments
(57)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Larietta
|
August 16, 2012
Byrne, go back to New Jersey. We southerners don't want, like, or need you here. I'll buy the one-way ticket. By the way, Tim Lee is a sorry choice too. When he was lobbying for votes many years ago, he was very nice, a little success has gone to his head and now he is too big to talk to his constituents.
Guest Comment
|
August 09, 2012
Byrne needs to lay off the burgers.
WTF!?!?
|
August 09, 2012
I would rather legalize chicken ownership on properties less than 2 acres. This guy has flipped out. This is pretty simple. Bill Byrne likes to divide people so he can manipulate them. Don't trust the bully! Do you ever wonder why he wants to be chairman after a decade away........he needs the paycheck.
Too funny
|
August 09, 2012
Wait...is this the same Bill Byrne whose myopic homophobia cost Cobb County an Olympic venue and made us sound like a bunch of ignorant hicks in the eyes of the entire world? Why are we talking about this guy - surely his views belong in the discarded scrap heap of historically awful ideas.
The Cobb Family
|
August 09, 2012
We had him one time and did not like him and sure don't need him with any control anymore.

He come and pulled up signs on private property that was completely off the right of way.

What will keep him form coming on up to he house and taking something that don't belong to him.

Keep him out of COBB COUNTY PLEASE.
mk- my stalker...
|
August 09, 2012
is at it again. Boy, these dirty Smyrna politicians will use anyone that's foolish enough to do their dirty work! To -who is this mk? Uh,.. you should know,SM, since you live 3 streets from me. Get a life & leave me alone!

Also, there is another choice for chairman-

WRITE IN MIKE BOYCE!!

That's the ONLY choice!!!
I Say
|
August 09, 2012
Write in Larry Savage.
Designed by me
|
August 09, 2012
Look up Bill Byrne on GOOGLE. Bill Byrne, Rockmart, Georgia, and you will find BYRNEDESIGN.

That's our creative designer for the city of East Cobb. Or, should it be called "Rich Cobb". Designed by Bill Byrne.

anonymous
|
August 09, 2012
As a member of the Tea Party I am horrified at this plan. Adding more taxes to be paid for by Cobb Residents is exactly the direction some liberal might be in favor of. What is Mr. Byrne thinking? Me and my fellow Tea Party members will be out in force to oppose this plan. Byrne has proved he is just another RINO.
Not again!
|
August 09, 2012
Deja Vu of what we went thru when he was our Chairman in the 90's. A crazy idea every day, protests in teh square, fires at the waste plant that was a white elephant, russian arts shows, olympics pushed out of our county and on and on. Now he wants to to add taxes to form a new city, that just today. If he actually gets in we can expect daily chaos. Not only with far out ideas like the East Cobb city but others like firing police or making firemen pledge they are not gay. If you don't remember the wild ride his last go round, do a little research and you will find out more about this moron.
East Cobber
|
August 09, 2012
Bill is drinking the same kool aide as David Banks.
Heard Dat
|
August 09, 2012
Word
No more 4 me
|
August 09, 2012
Remember kids... the former Cobb commission chairman, invested county money in a private-public venture to recycle garbage. It eventually went bust.

And then he bailed...
stunk neighborhoods
|
August 09, 2012
Actually the plant burned down after losing tens of millions, then he rebuilt it at millions more.

And then he bailed...

And I remember it stunk up the surrounding neighborhoods and he didn't care and blamed it on the residents. Now that's some leadership!
What, really?
|
August 09, 2012
Really Byrne? So what exactly is so broke in East Cobb that increased taxes and another layer of goverment will fix? This looks like ill-concieved desperation. The new Cities in Fulton and DeKalb were borne out of frustration from bad treatment and crappy service from the County government in those areas. I am very happy with our services and attention from Cobb government. Lived here over 25 years. I was undecided on who to vote for until now. We don't need a city of East Cobb. Byrne,you just lost my vote.
OMG2
|
August 09, 2012
Byrnes is more of a loose cannon than he ever was!

It was bad enough the first time around with him.
Knowledge Is Good
|
August 09, 2012
I was under the impression that Mr. Byrne opposed the TSPLOST on the basis that it was a tax increase. Now Mr. Byrne is proposing the establishment a new level of government to be paid for with a new level of taxes on the new city's residents. Mr. Byrne is also expecting the county to pay $1M for the construction of a newly-formed "city" hall from the "county's" capital improvements budget that would eventually have to be replenished with additional tax dollars from "county" residents. Mr. Byrne is simply trying to attract voters with a hair-brained tax increase in sheep's clothing. Why would county residents vote for him when they can expect a steady diet of "Whim De Jour" if he is elected? Know what you are voting for. After all, as Emil Faber said, "Knowledge Is Good".
Watcher...
|
August 09, 2012
Bill Byrne is a very smart Candidate!
Waste of Tax money
|
August 09, 2012
It appears Byrne is nuttier than ever. After all the hurt he caused last time around he now wants to in effect raise everyone in Cobb's taxes by creating a new city and building a massive city hall, police precinct and jail off of the 120 loop. And think about the cost of signage both in and outside his new city, who pays for that? Add to that new elections and bus service as well as new zip codes and the like, and next he will be proposing changing school district boundries to match the city limits. And for what purpose?
Jrog
|
August 09, 2012
For what purpose? Why, so he can be King of East Cobb, of course. He would have his own police force and gi-normous bloated budget (that the rest of us would fund).

Bottom line: This doofus needs to retire and go quietly A-WAY.
Pat H
|
August 09, 2012
We wouldn't need any bus service in East Cobb - we don't ride the bus.
Just Sayin'.....
|
August 09, 2012
Oh Bill, there you go! You had my vote until this. I think I will just write one in now for my third grader. Instead of dividing us, how about uniting us. Gee whiz....just when Tim was looking bad, you had to go and do this.
SG68
|
August 09, 2012
No harm at looking into the viability of something like this.

If it doesn't make sense don't do it.

If it does make sense put it up for a vote.

At least Byrne is thinking outside the box which I happen to like.

I particularly like the opportunities for more privatization.

As they say "The devil is in the details."

C'mon
|
August 09, 2012
You are really trying to defend this? What a lackey and shill for the Byrne campaign you must be.

This was verbal diarrhea from Byrne and you know it. You can try to put a nice face on it but you know it is still a huge pile of....

Give it up.
Devil's Details
|
August 09, 2012
Yes, SG68,the DEVIL is in those details, alright! I don't think you mean it that way, but if the shoe fits...... Can we keep this particularly angry man OUT of our box (Cobb)? Please send him back to Polk County and let them try to figure him out. Byrne has declared himself the primary enemy of everyone in the state and region, plus the chamber of commerce, etc. And then there is, "I won't let anything on the agenda I don't approve first." WHO does he want to cooperate with? Oh, my, he would be laughable if he weren't so scary!
Compare
|
August 09, 2012
Have you checked Sandy Springs' millage rate (remember to add their portion of their county tax too). I think you will find unincorporated Cobb's much lower. Cobb already privatized some of its services (DOT & Water System to name a few). Sandy Springs' incorporation was probably a good idea, but you are comparing apples and oranges when you are looking at whether the same thing would be good for East Cobb. Privatization is good if done correctly, but many times it is actually more expensive and it is not a panacea. Again, just compare the millage rates.
Dustoff
|
August 10, 2012
SG68 Byrne needs to be in a box, a padded one.

Compare The only priviatazation in DOT and Water is the Project Management teams. The rest are County employees.

Please get your facts straight.
Been Byrned Once
|
August 11, 2012
Come on Bob, you probably floated the idea to him and now that it has tanked big time, where are you hiding? Too bad you could not have tanked with Bill.
Just Saying
|
August 09, 2012
The discussion to have East Cobb form its own new municipality will signal doom for South Cobb. The interests pushing this dangerous initiative want to have the remainder of the county including South Cobb to continue to provide water, sewer, police and fire services to the new city for a nominal fee of one dollar per year. This makes no good sense from either fairness or financial criteria and in some circles would be described as a scam.
SayWhat???
|
August 09, 2012
Nobody is actually "pushing" the idea of a municipal East Cobb. Cobb does a good job providing services to EC and the last thing we need is another layer of government to tax us.

This proposal is Bill Byrne's desperate attempt to pick up votes in East Cobb, where he lost most precincts by a 2-1 margin.
Say What?
|
August 09, 2012
Say What??? you can't even pick an original name. How can you have an origianl thought?
SayWhat???
|
August 09, 2012
If your idea of an "original" thought is creating the City of East Cobb, then I'm glad I don't have many of these.

It's unfortunate for Cobb County residents that Bill Byrne had so many "original thoughts" when he ruled over his fiefdom back in the day, like subsidizing a failed plant or scaring away the Olympics. Byrne needs to retire quietly to Polk County.
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides