The transition to a city-county form of government begins in the Georgia legislature, by bill that includes a city charter and authorizes a vote by residents in the area.
The good news is that this process has begun. Last year, two of our state senators, Senators Elena Parent and Sally Harrell, with support from Representative Mary Margaret Oliver, introduced legislation that would permit such a vote. You can read their discussion of the bill, including how a city can provided a missing and needed voice for the area, here. The coronavirus shortened the 2020 legislative session and it did not move forward.
We anticipate it will be reintroduced this coming year, and we hope and expect that the area will have an opportunity for such a vote as early as November of this year.
Following a successful vote by residents, there is a smooth two-year transition process of preparing city operations. At the beginning of this period, city council elections are held. The city’s new leadership then works hand-in-hand with counterparts in the county to prepare and plan a smooth transition to city-county government, and to the city’s delivery of its chosen services.
This cooperation helps move those local services closer to the people they serve. This point is an important one: City formation moves those local services closer to the people they serve.
There is no duplication of effort. By law, the cities and county work together to develop a service delivery strategy that ensures no overlap in coverage and maximum efficiency.
Just as city staff focus on different issues from county staff, elected city council members have a different focus and work than county commissioners. They are not an extra layer. In the same way, we elect legislators to the Georgia General Assembly, and representatives to the U.S. Congress. They do not overlap, but, like city leaders and county leaders, work in complementary fashion.
If anything, moving local services closer means a smaller, more efficient government with less bureaucracy.
Also, it is important to note, recent cities have not only not raised their tax millage rates, they have more often (including in Tucker) been able to lower the overall millage rate residents pay.
In brief, the city-county model works. We now have decades of experience in Dekalb with city-county government. We know the concrete benefits that can be realized because neighboring cities are delivering them.
That has been so in the past ten to twelve years especially, with the success of newly formed cities in building out sidewalks and trails, and of long-standing cities -- take Chamblee as an example -- that are seeing the fruition of long-term plans, and entering a new era of growth and vitality. In the same service areas a new city of Vista Grove would offer, in communities like ours, the city-county form of government has been tested and has passed with flying colors.
As cities handle the intensely-local services, it frees up time, attention, and personnel in the county to focus on county-wide services like sanitation, making them the best and most efficient they can be.
How can we realize the benefits of city-county partnership here? Through a vote, through the thoughtful creation of our own city, we help improve this area while we strengthen the county and the region.
If you agree, please take a moment to write to both of your legislators (State Representative and Senator), letting them know the following:
"I live in the Vista Grove area, and just as residents in cities around us have, I would like to see this area realize the benefits of city-county partnership. Please permit us a choice about our form of local government and an opportunity to vote on city formation for Vista Grove. Please support legislation, like the Harrell-Parent bill, that will permit that vote in 2021."
You can find your Representative's and Senator's e-mail and phone number by clicking here and entering your address. Please not only e-mail, but take a moment to call their office and let them know you support Vista Grove and want to vote on city formation in 2021.