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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Cityhood first step toward fleeing Fulton
Backers say 'political tide' favors county breakup
By ANNA VARELAThe Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 07/23/06

For the leaders who helped forge two new cities in north Fulton County, success at the polls Tuesday was just one step toward a much bigger goal — breaking off a large swath of north Fulton to form an independent county.
They are targeting 2008 for a serious push to create the county of Milton, taking in all of the land from Sandy Springs to the north, and complete with its own school system.
Rep. Mark Burkhalter (R-Alpharetta) said he thinks most voters who went to the polls in unincorporated north Fulton on Tuesday knew they were doing more than voting on cityhood.
"I think people generally understand that this is a first step toward true and complete independence," said Burkhalter, who has introduced bills several times in the past to try to carve out a new county.
Milton County boosters have several big legal and political hurdles to clear:
• The Georgia Constitution caps the number of counties at the current 159.
• The state constitution also states, "No independent school system shall hereafter be established."
• Supporters of MARTA and Grady Memorial Hospital — both funded largely by tax dollars from Fulton and DeKalb counties — would probably fight any move that could take a large, wealthy area out of their tax base.
• The Fulton County school board also wouldn't be likely to sit back and watch some of its richest communities and highest-achieving schools defect from the system.
Milton County supporters say they are studying ways to get around these issues.
"The hurdles are only as high as the politics," said Burkhalter, speaker pro tem of the House. "The reality is it's not an easy process but it's certainly one that can be achieved given the political tide that's changed."
That "political tide" is a reference to Republican control of the Legislature.
The Republican majority made it possible for supporters of the city of Sandy Springs to get a vote on incorporation last year, after decades of being foiled by Democrats representing Fulton County's interests. The creation of Sandy Springs, which started operations
Jan. 1, has given hope to others in north Fulton.
The area will gain two more cities — Johns Creek in the northeast and Milton in the northwest.
Johns Creek will have a population of a little more than 62,000 and Milton will have about 20,000 residents. Add Alpharetta (about 35,000) and Sandy Springs (roughly 86,000) and some say that's plenty of people to support a new county.
In fact, more than 70 years ago, Milton was an independent county with Alpharetta as its seat. But it struggled financially during the Great Depression. In 1932, it merged with Campbell County and they were absorbed into Fulton, creating the current, oddly-shaped boundaries.
Many in north Fulton argue that it's past time to break off from a county government with a reputation for scandal in the Sheriff's Department, at the jail and in the tax assessor's office.
As for the schools, Rep. Jan Jones (R-Alpharetta) issued an open letter a few months ago voicing her support for incorporating the Milton area and working toward a new county. "A separate county would mean a highly focused, scaled-down local school system, one that could more efficiently and effectively serve north Fulton students' needs and desires," Jones wrote.
Reagan Ferguson, who runs a plant nursery and lives in the area that will become the city of Milton, said that forming a new county is a logical next step.
"I think it makes perfect sense," Ferguson said. "One reason it should work up here is there's a rather wealthy tax base."
And residents of north Fulton don't feel like they have much in common with residents of the south end of the county, he said. "You don't talk about Fulton County. You talk about north or south Fulton."
Northside resident Thomas Mulroy agreed.
"The thing everyone wants is a county of our own," said Mulroy, 40, who case his ballot Tuesday in favor of cityhood. "We want to control our schools, our parks, zoning. This is a first step."
Staff writer Doug Nurse contributed to this article.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Miton is now a City

Milton is Now a City


The citizens of Milton, Georgia came together and made it happen! They created a new city. 85% of voters approved the new City of Milton.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MILTON GEORGIA!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

VOTE FOR MILTON !!!

Message from Gregory Mishkin on Milton's big day::

Dear Milton Supporters:
Voter turnout has been extremely low so far this morning. This makes it more important then ever that you cast your YES vote for the City of Milton.
EVERY VOTE COUNTS! With low voter turnout your vote has never been so important. I urge you to make sure that you get out today and vote before 7:00pm. Please encourage your friends, family, and neighbors to vote as well.
A new day is upon us… a day where we will take control of our own destiny. Viva La Independence!!!

Take care,

Gregory Mishkin
Communications Chair
City of Milton Committee

Monday, July 17, 2006

Message from Jan Jones

Below is an email sent by Representative Jan Jones of District 46:

Friends and Neighbors-
I'd like to further clarify the city of Milton's promising financial future with no property tax rate increase for northwest residents. I encourage you to forward this information to your friends and neighbors that live in the northwest area.


1. THE NEW CITY TAX REPLACES AN UNINCORPORATED COUNTY TAX

In Fulton, when a city is formed and takes over local service delivery, a special property tax only paid by unincorporated residents is eliminated and replaced with a new city tax. The county tax can be found on your property tax bill designated as the Special Service District (SSD) tax. The current rate is 4.731 mills. The legislation allowing for the creation of Milton caps the property tax rate at 4.731 mills. It can only be increased by a voter referendum.


2. THE HIGHEST PER RESIDENT PROPERTY TAX REVENUE IN COUNTY - AND THE STATE!

With an identical city property tax rate to the SSD unincorporated tax rate, Milton will collect the highest per resident property tax revenue of any of the 13 cities in Fulton County - and any city in GA. It is because the area has the highest average home values by a significant margin. This more than compensates for a lower-than-average commercial base for your average city, which generates fees, fines and permit revenue.

Additionally, Milton will receive sales tax revenues (that are currently spent elsewhere by commissioners) to make service and infrastructure enhancements. In Fulton, only cities qualify to receive a share of sales tax revenues, although all residents pay the additional one-cent tax. These additional revenues will bump current spending levels in northwest Fulton by a third after Milton incorporates.

You may have read recently that Fulton County commissioners voted to set a precedent by transferring to the city of Sandy Springs all park land for $1 per acre. Additionally, fire and police stations will be sold for $5000 each. This means the city of Milton will start off with numerous assets, as it should because its taxpayers already paid for them.


3. THE PROBLEM IS WHO IS DOING THE SPENDING - AND FOR WHOSE BENEFIT

The level of tax revenues in northwest Fulton have never been the problem. It's who is doing the spending, how, and for the benefit of whom. Currently, government spending policies are set by an Atlanta-majority county commission more interested in jobs programs than efficient, responsive service delivery in northwest Fulton.

After incorporation into the city of Milton, how residents' tax dollars are spent, and for the benefit of whom, will no longer be a problem. Your hard-earned tax dollars will be managed by elected friends and neighbors and remain local to make needed infrastructure and service delivery improvements.

4. UGA STUDY SHOWED SURPLUS WHEN MILTON BENCHMARKED TO SIMILAR CITIES

Last year, I obtained approval for a $175,000 grant from the state to fund a UGA study of the proposed incorporations of Milton and Johns Creek. The UGA study did not evaluate the efficiency in Fulton County's profligate spending habits. The authors emphasized this point in their report. The report evaluated Fulton's expenditures on services, not costs, which (as any businessperson knows) are two very different things.


The study also evaluated how Milton's tax revenues would compare to three similarly-sized suburban Georgia cities and whether Milton could match up in service delivery. In this section of the study, Milton showed a surplus in every instance, which could be used to increase service delivery levels or make infrastructure improvements over time.


5. FULTON WASTES OUR TAX DOLLARS

Separately, I benchmarked Fulton's expenditures to nearby cities and counties for city-like services (to Milton) and expenditures for general services countywide. I was appalled.

For example, Fulton County has the distinction of spending 100 percent more per resident on libraries than the state average. It's circulation service level, though, is less than the state average. Similar findings are true at every level and in every department.


This is the county that manages to tax and spend more per resident for general services than any other Georgia county, but offers less in roads improvements, jail or courtroom security or tax assessor integrity. The fact that Fulton spends more per resident doesn't mean it costs more to deliver services. Fulton's expenditures bear no relation to actual, efficient costs.


6. FINALLY

Creating the city of Milton means financial and land-use independence from Fulton County, which a good and needed thing. Fulton has forgotten who should be government's master and who should be its servant.


Viva la independence on July 18. I encourage you to vote.

Best-
Jan Jones - janjones38@bellsouth.net

State Representative - District 46

Saturday, July 15, 2006

A lot of our visitors have been asking for a map of Milton, Georgia. If the voters approave the creation of Milton, Georgia it will look a lot like this map of Milton, GA from the AJC. The map is an Adobe file and you will need the Adobe Acrobat reader to view it.


Friday, July 14, 2006

Milton Georgia

Don't forget to vote on July 18. If you are not sure where you need to go to vote for the proposed City of Milton, GA then you can find out at the Sec. of State website here.
If you want to find out the latest news about Milton, Georgia then check out Access Milton.

AM Reader Says No to New Milton


Everyone is not in favor of a new Milton, Georgia and we like to share all points of view. Here is an email from Access Milton reader Joan:

I LIKE living in Alpharetta-having an Alpharetta address. I like that the city has a history that goes back hundreds of years. I moved here 10 years ago and lived right in Alpharetta until a few years ago. I feel really connected to the city of Alpharetta and want to keep that address. I don't want to come from a city that started last week, and that no one has ever heard of.
I wish I could be annexed by Alpharetta, but I understand that they would not. I am in favor of splitting Fulton County into a new county, but not making a new city. Sandy Springs and Johns Creek have had those names attached to them (especially Sandy Springs) for years. This area has never been referred to as Milton so it's hard to embrace it.Another reason that is more of a nuisance, is having to change my address on everything once we become a new city. It's a hassle and it will be expensive.
As far as what a new city would mean, I guess I don't have any problem with the way things are now for me. I don't know of any services that I am not getting. A few months ago after the tornadoes we had, I had to call the fire department and they came within minutes of my call. I am concerned that 20,000 citizens would not be able to support the size fire and police department that I feel safe with and if they do, it will make my taxes will go up. I am worried that we will not be able to pay the salaries that the other cities can and will not get experienced fire and police protection. I feel certain after the required period that taxes are supposed to stay the same, they will go up in the new city.
I don't believe that this new city will give me any larger voice than I have now. A few highly place individuals in the government structure of the city will be the ones making decisions for the city, just as they are now for Alpharetta and Atlanta.
Basically, I can't see the advantages for me and that's why I am choosing to vote NO on July 18th. My vote may not make a difference, but at least I will feel good about it.