Monday, January 19, 2009

Milton County will rise again!

Posted By on Mon, Jan 19, 2009 at 10:31 PM

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Last Monday, state Rep. Jan Jones, R-Alpharetta, fired the first shot in the battle between North Fulton residents and the Fulton County Commission. The aim of these highly educated, high-income, and mostly Republican residents: Split from the terrible fiend named Fulton and revive Milton County, which fell on hard times after a boll weevil infestation and the Great Depression. In 1932, it merged with Fulton County.

Jones filed a bill that would allow former counties to "re-create" themselves. There's no dancing around the fact that it's meant for Roswell, Alpharetta, Mountain Park and the newly created cities of Johns Creek and Milton to revive Milton County. The House Communications office even announced it as such.

It would also mean Fulton County loses one of its wealthiest areas.

Jones, in a press release, didn't sound angry.

“The mandate to re-create Milton County becomes clearer and more pressing with each new disclosure of the continuing failure of Fulton County to provide adequate basic government functions,” said Representative Jones.

Oh, wait, maybe she did sound a little fed up. For years, North Fulton residents have wanted to split from Fulton County, calling it an ineffective and unrepresentative governing body and a leech on its taxpayers' wallets. According to a poorly made website dedicated to the secession effort, "every dollar paid by county residents outside of the Atlanta city limits returns only about 68 cents in local services." When I worked at an Alpharetta newspaper in 2005, many residents often spoke as if their city was a colony and the county commission was its overseas king.

So it'll be simple, right? Not exactly. Jones talked about the bill with the AJC last year. It looks like it'll be a long process.

The bill would call for a constitutional amendment allowing pre-existing counties to be reconstituted. If the General Assembly signs off on it, the amendment would require a statewide vote perhaps as soon as 2010. If Georgia voters approve it, then there would be an election in what would be Milton County. If north Fulton voters support it, then the Legislature would draft a charter. Then would begin the hard work of dividing the counties.

And before it even gets to that point, proponents will have to win over a 2/3 majority in the state House. Surely the rest of the Fulton delegation will try to prevent its passage.

According to the above article, "opponents say it is the accusations that are unfair and that amputating the northern area would hurt Milton and Fulton counties." It being a holiday, Fulton County Chairman John Eaves' office was closed. I'll update when I hear from him.

All in all, it's a shame. First, Sandy Springs jumped ship. Then Johns Creek and Milton decided to govern themselves. What's next, Campbell County? Something tells me that in a few years, Fulton County will just be Commissioner Robb Pitts's house. That and his many, many casinos. Hmmm, casinos.

(Photo courtesy of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources)

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