Dec. 2—State Rep. Erick Allen, D-Smyrna, announced Wednesday he will not support any of the four movements to create new cities in Cobb County until further analysis is done on their impact to Cobb County at-large.
Allen, who chairs the 21-member Cobb Legislative Delegation and is a candidate for lieutenant governor, told the MDJ Wednesday he doesn't believe any of the proposed cities — East Cobb, Lost Mountain, Mableton, and Vinings — have accounted for their effect on the county government. Until that happens, he plans to lobby his fellow legislators to table the proposals.
"I would encourage those that are in support of the cities and really pushing them to also just take a step back, and think about what the impact on the county would be," Allen said. "When you take on very light services ... you're going to be leaving the county with all the heavy lifting — you know, water, stormwater, roads, fire, police — all of those different things that are really costly."
Members of the Cobb delegation have filed bills which, if passed would put referenda on cityhood before people living within the boundaries of the proposed cities.
Allen plans to introduce legislation making a study of the impact to the county a legal requirement, and floated the idea of making cityhood referenda countywide, rather than limited to their prospective borders. On the latter point, however, he conceded the idea "would never pass or go anywhere."
The Republicans hold the majority in the Georgia House and Senate.
Of the four cities on the table, three — Lost Mountain, Mableton, and Vinings — have included planning and zoning, code enforcement, and parks among their prospective services. Allen initially co-sponsored the bill for the city of Vinings, saying residents deserved a chance to see where exploring the idea would take them. After seeing the results of its feasibility study, however, he dismissed the proposal as "basically a very robust H.O.A."
East Cobb, meanwhile, is the only movement currently proposing to create its own police and fire departments, funding them by requisitioning tax dollars which support the Cobb County Fire Department. The proposed city of East Cobb would also offer zoning and code enforcement services.
Allen's announcement comes two days before the delegation and the Board of Commissioners are set to meet for their annual legislative summit, and was met with muted responses from two of his colleagues who have sponsored cityhood bills.
"I can't speak for every city in Cobb County, but the due diligence and the studies have been done for the city of Mableton ... I don't know what else we can add to the table other than a study by (the University of Georgia)," said state Rep. Erica Thomas, D-Austell, a Mableton cityhood advocate who's been in talks with Commissioner Monique Sheffield about the initiative.
"I think that (cityhood) would help to lighten the load that (Sheffield) has," Thomas added. "And she's been doing a fantastic job all across Mableton, but I do think this would lighten the load and get the people the services that they need and deserve."
State Rep. Matt Dollar, R-east Cobb, the lead sponsor for the proposed city of East Cobb, said he didn't have any comment on the charge that the movements weren't considering their impact on the county.
"I'm supportive of all four efforts," Dollar said. "I believe that if the people of Marietta, Acworth, Powder Springs, and Smyrna — if they have the right to self-governance, local control of zoning and things of that nature, the residents of east Cobb, Mableton, Lost Mountain, and Vinings should as well."
State Reps. Ginny Ehrhart, R-west Cobb; Ed Setzler, R-Acworth; and John Carson, R-northeast Cobb, who are supporting the Lost Mountain and Vinings efforts, respectively, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.