At left, Tharon Johnson, founder and CEO of Paramount Consulting Group, and Sen. Brandon Beach at the “Future of Buckhead” event on Feb. 2. (Keith Pepper)

Another Buckhead City bill is expected to be introduced in the Georgia Senate, said Sen. Brandon Beach Wednesday night during a “Future of Buckhead” event. 

Beach, R-Alpharetta, sponsored Senate Bill 324, which aims to carve a path for Buckhead to form its own city. But that legislation has been essentially bottled up in the Democrat-controlled Urban Affairs committee.

“It’s probably on life support,” Beach said of his bill. During the event, he debated the merits of Buckhead City with former Rep. Edward Lindsey, a cityhood opponent. Cory Ruth of Mergence Global and “Georgia Gang” panelist Tharon Johnson of Paramount Consulting Group moderated the discussion.

“There is another bill that is going to be dropped by Sen. Albers,” Beach said. “He will be dropping his bill probably later this week. [It’s] very similar to what I did, but hopefully we can get it in a different committee … to where we can get a fair hearing and get it heard.”

Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the legislation.

Beach was filling in for cityhood leader Bill White, who was scheduled to attend the Feb. 2 event but ultimately cancelled. White told Reporter Newspapers he was visiting his sick mother in Vermont. “I had been looking forward to sitting opposite Ed,” White said in an email.

At left, former Rep. Edward Lindsey, a cityhood opponent, and Cory Ruth, CEO of Mergence Global, which hosted the “Future of Buckhead” event.

At the event, Lindsey, who co-founded the opposition group Committee for A United Atlanta, delved into the complexities of splitting up Atlanta.

“The difference between creating a city in an unincorporated area versus carving up an existing town … is the difference between knowing how to scramble an egg and knowing how to unscramble it,” he said.

Lindsey brought up issues including how 5,500 students would be educated if Buckhead left Atlanta and its public school system.

“The school issue is going to be dicey,” Beach said. But he said he is talking with Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, who may draft legislation about how the new city will address Atlanta Public Schools. Mullis didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Lindsey stressed that three pieces of legislation would be required to form Buckhead City: one to incorporate the city, one to deannex from Atlanta, and another to sort out the school issue.

“We’re not even at the starting line yet,” Lindsey said. “You’re going to have to pass at a minimum three separate bills this session.”

So far, the Buckhead City effort hasn’t made much progress through the Georgia General Assembly, with both Senate Bill 324 and a companion bill in the House still sitting in committee.

Proponents hope to get legislation passed that would place a referendum on the November 2022 ballot, allowing Buckhead residents to vote on whether to form a new city.

Beach reminded the audience that it’s not over.     

“Nothing’s over ‘til 12 midnight on day 40,” Beach said, referring to the number of days the Georgia legislature is in session. “A lot of things can happen. A lot of horse trading. A lot of things can get attached to bills, so we will see what happens.”

Amy Wenk

Amy Wenk is Editor of Reporter Newspapers. She can be reached at editor@reporternewspapers.net