By Rep. Edward H. Lindsey Jr., District 54
Georgia State House or Representatives
State Rep. Edward H. Lindsay Jr. represents a portion of Sandy Springs and a larger portion of the Buckhead area of the city of Atlanta. That places him in a somewhat unique position regarding bill HR21 presently being debated in the Georgia House of Representatives. Sandy Springs would be included in a recreated Milton County. Buckhead and the city of Atlanta would remain in Fulton County. The following is his response to questions posed to him by Reporter newspapers.Q. Should the Legislature pass HR 21, which would allow a Constitutional amendment that would allow voters to recreate Milton County? Why or why not?
A. No. I have three concerns about HR 21.
First, HR 21 is likely to lead to higher taxes for those of us living in Buckhead. A carved out Milton County north of Atlanta will leave us behind with the same county political leaders in charge who have created this governmental quagmire through their bloated fiscal policies and blind opposition to needed reforms. In short, Buckhead should not be stuck with the bill in this dispute.
Second, HR 21 strips away from Buckhead and the rest of Atlanta and South Fulton County the important constitutional right to vote on this issue. Under Article IX, Section I, Paragraph II of Georgia’s existing constitution, if a county wants to divide, everyone in the county gets to vote on the division. HR 21 will remove that right by only permitting those in North Fulton to vote on dividing our county and creating Milton County. I would never expect my colleagues in North Fulton to agree to surrender their constituents’ constitutional right to vote and they should not expect me to do so.
Third, HR 21 is probably unattainable and provides a distraction from more realistic solutions to reform our county government. For HR 21 to pass, it will take a two thirds majority in the General Assembly, 120 votes in the House and 38 votes in the Senate. Its proponents are working diligently at the present time but do not have anywhere near the necessary votes in either chamber.
Instead, I have proposed a different constitutional amendment, HR 1589, to address how Fulton County government operates. It provides that in a heavily municipalized county such as Fulton (over 90% of the population and 80% of the land area in Fulton County are in one city or another), the county government will be limited to only performing those duties that are mandated by the state or agreed upon between the cities and the county. This should lessen the footprint of our county government and provide relief to all of our county’s citizens.
Let me close by saying that as recently as today I defended my friends in North Fulton against undeserved charges of racism at a public meeting at the capitol on this issue and argued that opponents of this measure must accept the legitimacy of the complaints even if they disagree with the solution offered. I hope my friends in North Fulton to show me the same understanding.
Q. If legislators do consider creating a new Milton County, should any weight be given to the effect the change would have on Fulton County or the city of Atlanta?
A. Yes, of course. As I stated earlier, the concerns of residents in Buckhead, Atlanta, and South Fulton County should be considered and we must be offered an equal place at the table in these deliberations. That can only be assured if our right to vote on any solutions offered is preserved.