One Acre One Vote

If the developers get their way, Georgia will join Florida in allowing so-called “private cities.” These private cities, set up by developers and wealthy land owners, can levy taxes to pay for everything from golf courses to sewers. A 5 member board, dominated by appointees of the initial land owner (and joined by 1 local county official) get to rule with an iron fist for up to 6 years (and maybe longer) before the landowners get to vote on commissioners to rule themsleves. Only, unlike in the rest of Georgia, it’s not one man one vote, it’s one acre one vote (15 acre limit). And it doesn’t matter how many people live on your acre, you still get one vote.

Oh yeah, and on top of all of that, you still have to pay your underlying county taxes. I presume Sen. David Shafer is set to vote in favor of this bill. Sen. Shafer, can you tell me why you don’t think citizens of Sandy Springs should have to pay for their own police department and that of Fulton County’s, but why citizens of a “private city” should have to pay taxes they can’t even vote on (which would presumably pay for a security force among other things) and all of the underlying county services as well, even if they’re duplicated?

In other words, why is it OK for you to tell Fulton County’s elected government what they can and can’t tax, but it’s not OK for a landowner in a private city to even elect his taxing authority?

Hat Tip: AJC

19 comments

  1. bowersville says:

    The key is “PRIVATE.” What makes anyone think one who can afford to buy into this type of community would be so ignorant as to not understand the covenants?

    Chris, for the sake of argument, what has PRIVATE PROPERTY COVENANTS to do with government?

  2. jackson says:

    I agree. How idiotic. If someone wants to move there, let them. Or should they always take someone else’s philosophy of what they should do with their lives (and property) with them?

  3. ugavi says:

    Hardcore – The citizens of Sandy Springs do not pay for Fulton County Police and Sandy Springs police. They no longer pay the SSD tax which is how the police and fire services are funded in unincorporated Fulton.

  4. Goober says:

    hardcorechris, your condo association can borrow money, levy fees and take your condo away if you refuse to pay… sb200 has bipartisan cosponsorship so why don’t you ask your questions to steve thompson.

  5. Federalist says:

    Here is an interesting topic for debate, one that I enjoy having with my law students, in a city is truly private, and it has schools that are inherently private because the constituency has been screened by private property convenant laws, but are technically public because any child in the district can attend. Should these schools receive government funding?

  6. Erick says:

    chrisishardcore, are you saying the Nanny State should protect people from their own decisions to go in together and build a place like this or live there?

    It seems we should be respecting the private contract rights of the developers and those who choose to live under the covenants of the property.

    This is a bit silly.

  7. Erick, Republicans are always telling us that we have to protect ourselves from the government by passing stuff like TABOR. Why shouldn’t we also protect ourselves from some developer?

    I mean, technically I choose to live in Georgia so if I don’t like it I can move elsewhere, which is the same argument given for this law.

    My condo association can not levy taxes. There is a difference between that and borrowing money collectively and paying it back, and just for the record most condo associations do not borrow money, they just do a special assessment and raise the money in advance.

    If this law passes, shouldn’t a condo association and existing neighborhood associations also be extended the ability to levy taxes and issue bonds? Can somebody tell me why new private cities should be able to and existing quasi-private developments shouldn’t?

  8. Goober says:

    what is the difference between selling bonds and borrowing money? levying “taxes” or assessments?…

    you buy into a condo project and you know what you are buying into… you buy into an infrastructure district and you know what you are buying into…

    not everyone in Sandy Springs agreed to the city, but everyone in the infrastructure district will have to agree to the formation of the district… if you do not want to take on the financial responsibilities, do not buy into it.

  9. Federalist says:

    How many of you pay Home Owners Association fees? It is a tax. As far as a bill passing to allow this “one acre, one vote” thing to continue…maybe it will pass, but it will be ruled unconstitutional rather quickly.

  10. Doug Deal says:

    This is a bad idea, and the long term negatives are readily apparent. Just visit Florida and see how screwed up that state is, and it gets worse every year.

  11. bowersville says:

    So, I buy into a private property association. I’m so ignorant I don’t understand the covenants, now I need the government to bail me out and protect me because of MY OWN stupidity for buying in?

    As far as a condo association being able to levy taxes and issue bonds, heck yes, who’s stupid enough to buy into that?

    The best way to protect yourself from a developer is don’t buy.

  12. bowersville says:

    Chris, the bottom line is, I for one have more confidence in a developer than government.

    Government changes with the wind, covenants are forever and renewable every 20 years.

  13. landman says:

    This is a very good route to take to ease the burden of the fast growth we are experiencing here in Georgia.The only down side to CDD”S is they are easy targets for those who are opposed to them to confuse the public and thus turn it into an arguement of the BIG Developer making gobs of money off the little man,which is absolutely false!!!!
    This is much needed legislation and hopefully will pass within the next two years.

  14. Doug Deal says:

    Erick,

    I admit that there are some small areas that Flrodia has done right, but parts of my family have lived down there since 1984, and I do not believe that it is a healthy place to live overall.

    (You may be referring to pan-handle Florida, which is pretty nice, but isn’t really Florida.) If you haven’t, try visiting South Florida sometime.

  15. Nimrod says:

    I guess this will go hand in hand with the tax cut for seniors. Maybe it is a concerted effort to turn Georgia into the next Florida, while creating a windfall for Developers and Bankers, who leverage them. Maybe I am wrong, but why can’t developers acquire Bonds, on their own, to cover infratstructure needs of their developments without a law that seeks to socialize their costs through the power of taxation wthout representation. They can incorporate the cost of said bonds into the purchase price of the house. Then they are on the hook, not the citizens, for the true costs of their developments. Wonder under this unneeded legislation who gets stuck with the costs when their development goes belly up? I doubt it will be the developers!

    As you know, seniors already can get $70K, plus all of SS income (avg $20K), for a total of $90K tax-exempt. So, who does this really benefit!

    Meanhwile, shifting the tax burden to those families who are raising children and trying to provide the best for their children while having to support the Government services for the Senior segment who is living tax-free.

    We have way too many tax exemptions. Why not treat every taxpayer and income earner the same?

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