Will uninformed residents of the proposed "City Lite" of Sharon Springs vote for a bill that is considered unconstitutional?
Will Forsyth County's State delegation (Sen. Michael Williams, Rep. Sheri Gilligan, Rep. Geoff Duncan, and HB 660 sponsor Rep Mike Dudgeon) actually support a bill for a "City Light" that former Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court Norman S. Fletcher states in his legal opinion is unconstitutional?
The concept of a "City Lite" misleads our citizens, some of who are not paying attention, into believing that they will be voting for one entity ("city lite"), but in reality, they will actually be getting a much larger entity (regular city), the only city provided for in the Georgia Constitution. There is no such entity as a "City Light".
If the voters approve Sharon Springs, they will get a full fledged city with all of the powers and responsibilities of any city chartered in Georgia. But, with the cap of a city property tax rate of .5 mil (as called for in the bill), there will not be enough money in the city treasury to fund all of the services required of the city by law. The result will be a disturbing decrease in government services available to the new city residents. Or, a city wide vote will be needed to pass a dramatic increase in the millage rate to fund the services which the residents have become accustomed.
Wake up sheeps! THIS IS A BAIT & SWITCH SCHEME of the highest order. And if passed, will result in tax increases not only for the future City of Sharon Springs residents, but also for all Forsyth County residents.
Former Chief Justice Fletcher opines, "The specific question posed [to me] is whether the proposed charter of Sharon Springs, as presented through House Bill 660, complies with the Georgia Constitution. My opinion is that House Bill 660 violates the Georgia Constitution. But with that said, it is also my opinion that if passed, House Bill 660 would establish Sharon Springs as a Georgia municipality - just without the power and service restrictions contained in House Bill 660."
"Thus the General Assembly may regulate, restrict, or limit the powers and services of a municipality through a general law - i.e., a law that applies uniformly across the State - but it cannot withdraw any of the enumerated powers or services available to municipalities absent a constitutional amendment.(GA. CONST., Art.IX, Sec.II, Para. III(c)."
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!!!
House Bill 477 Becomes State Law:
(HB*477*2015-2016 Regular Session)
[Under "Current Version", click "open current", then click "open" to view the new law]
Please read the House Bill 477 signed into law May 12, 2015 by Governor Deal, and made effective May 12, 2015.
And, pay special attention to "Section 2" that states "when a new municipal corporation is created by Act of the General Assembly, the new municipality SHALL assume ownership, control, care, and maintenance of county road rights of way located within the area incorporated unless the municipality and the county agree otherwise by a joint resolution." Not to mention the new roads that will need to be funded in the future by Sharon Springs.
Mike Dudgeon, backed by Phillip Barlag and the Sharon Springs Alliance, introduced HB660 for formation of the proposed new City of Sharon Springs on March 25. This was two days after the Senate and the House agreed on the wording of HB477. So, it appears that Michael Dudgeon, who voted for HB477 twice, and Phillip Barlag (SSA Chairman) should be aware of this major road responsibility affecting the finances of the new city. Why wasn't it addressed in HB 660?
According to the F/C Roads Dept., there are 1128 miles of county roads inside the limits of Forsyth County. Approximately 350 miles of those county roads (paved, gravel, and dirt) are within the proposed city limits of Sharon Springs. The road maintenance, resurfacing, and legal fees to settle water runoff cases cost the county over $6 million per year, or approximately $5,300 per mile. This translates to almost $2 million for the county roads in which Sharon Springs "SHALL assume ownership". (According to the SSA feasibility study, this $2 million could possibly be off set by a drop in the bucket of aprox. $200,000 with a Local Maintenance Improvement Grant from the state.) This line item is not addressed in the expenditure estimates related to the potential new city of Sharon Springs.
The Sharon Springs Alliance feasibility study estimates revenues for the new city at aprox. $6.5 million, and expenditures at aprox. $3.8 million with a cushion of aprox.$2.7 million. Factoring in the aprox. $2 million in expenditures for road maintenance, that leaves a cushion of less than one million dollars. Since road maintenance will be required of the new city, the ad valorem tax limit in the house bill for Sharon Springs appears to be inadequate.
FROM MICHAEL DUDGEON, (03/25/2015):
"Today I have introduced HB 660, which would call for a referendum in May 2016 on incorporating the city of Sharon Springs in southern Forsyth County. The rules of the House will delay any action or movement on this bill until January of 2016. I WANT TO HAVE A ROBUST PUBLIC DEBATE over the pros and cons of a new city for the rest of this year before making a final decision to push the bill when we return for the next legislative session in January of 2016."
WHERE IS THE DEBATE THAT IS CALLED FOR BY REP. DUDGEON?
Why won't anyone who is in favor of the proposed "City Lite" or who represents the Sharon Springs Alliance take the Forsyth County News up on its encouragement for readers to interact with one another? What are they hiding? Please explain why so many statements from supporters of Sharon Springs are in direct conflict with the actual wording of HB 660.
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