Sam Massell, president of the Buckhead Coalition and former Mayor of Atlanta, has decided to weigh in on the proposed split of Milton County from Fulton with a “No” vote.
After Massell was defeated for re-election in 1973, he became the defacto voice of the Buckhead and North Atlanta areas, and is still affectionately known as Buckhead’s mayor.
His position, issued via the following press release, is significant because it represents somewhat of a shift in the coalitions that make up Fulton County Politics. Massell could often be counted on by those who felt their interests were not being represented at City Hall to be their point man, and he could often be counted to raise (and resolve) issues on their behalf.
But with Massell favoring the status quo for Fulton, he now finds himself squarely aligned with those at both City Hall as well as those in the Fulton County Government complex.
Time will allow a proper measure of the seismic nature of this shift, but as of now, Buckhead’s power center is aligned with Fulton, and not the folks North of the Chattahoochee.
Full press release here:
Former Atlanta Mayor Sam Massell Says Georgia Taxpayers Will Foot the Bill for New Milton County
Legislation to Create New County will cost Georgia Taxpayers $6.3 Million for starters and $3.2 million annually
Last year, under the direction of the Georgia General Assembly, the Carl Vinson Institute of Government and the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies analyzed the “potential” impacts on state agencies of creating a new Milton County. The purpose of this study was to review the feasibility of implementing House Resolution 21, authored by House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones. The two institutions identified all state agencies that may be impacted, then contacted Commissioners and Directors of those agencies to participate in a survey to guage the impact.
The study revealed that first-year state agency costs would reach an estimated $6.3 million, and subsequent annual costs for ongoing services were estimated at approximately $3.2 million. This does not include the costs for instating other constitutional officers such as the Sheriff, District Attorney or Judges.
“I think the citizens of Georgia should be aware that this is not just a local issue for the City of Atlanta or Fulton County,” stated former Atlanta Mayor Sam Massell. “While it is true that the City and County will suffer the effects of creating a Milton County, it is Georgia taxpayers statewide who will ultimately foot the bill for it.”
Massell, who is Chief Executive Officer of The Buckhead Coalition, pointed to the disturbing state of Georgia’s economy as a big concern. State elected officials have all said that this year is a year when every dollar will count.
“Our state is facing terrible cuts in education, cuts that will force university system tuition increases for students and their parents. There are thousands of transportation projects across the state waiting for funding. Teachers and other state employees are facing lay-offs. Given the extreme state of our economy, why would any public official advocate that Georgia taxpayers be charged an extra $6.3 million for services for a portion of the state that has only 300,000 residents, and includes the 9th wealthiest community in the country? That’s a question that every Georgia taxpayer should be asking their state legislator,” he added.
Examples of What $6.3 Million Could Fund:
* $6.3 million would protect half of the University of Georgia’s Cooperative Extension Services – services that support the agriculture industry in Georgia which contributes $92 billion annually to the state’s economy. It would also protect the Archway Partnership Project ($1.1 million) that addresses agricultural and environmental needs in local communities. There are Archway projects currently in Colquitt, Washington, Glynn, Clayton, Hart, Sumter, Pulaski, and Whitfield Counties. Cuts to these programs are currently being considered.
* $6.3 million is equal to approximately 10% of the funding allocated in 2008 by the Georgia General Assembly to stabilize Georgia’s trauma care system. Funding is still needed, despite the $23 million in funding expected to be generated by the new Super Speeder law. Enhanced trauma care is greatly needed particularly in the southern part of the state.
* The Georgia Association of Educators indicates that the average teacher salary in the state of Georgia for 2008-2009 was $53,270. $6.3 million would save the jobs of some 119 classroom educators across the state.
* Columbus State University is facing potential budget cuts that could force lay-offs of 44 members of the faculty and staff, including tenured professors. The school has been directed by the University System of Georgia to cut $6.1 million from its budget.