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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Milton County still priority for mayors.

By Angela Spencer; The Milton Neighbor

The creation of Milton County did not make it through the legislature this year, but north Fulton mayors are still keeping their sites on an eventual split from Fulton County.

“Milton County is going to be a huge effort,” said Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle, “Fulton County is too big to be a local government.”

Bell Isle – along with other north Fulton mayors – addressed questions about Milton County and other local issues from the 2012 Leadership North Fulton class, which visited the monthly North Fulton Municipal Association meeting.

“County governments were never intended to be that size,” Belle Isle said. “County government is like city government, it’s a local government.”

Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos said one way to sell the split to south Fulton is bringing up the possibility of merging Atlanta and Fulton County governments, calling it a win/win situation for both ends of the county.

“We don’t need those two mammoth governments. They need to be combined,” she said. “Their taxes will go down. They will no longer pay Fulton County taxes plus Atlanta taxes. They will pay a consolidated tax.”

Some in opposition to the formation of Milton County have said the act is decisive and, while Galambos noted the possible benefits for all citizens within current Fulton County, the city of Milton’s mayor Joe Lockwood recognized how the act looks for those outside north Fulton.

“It is decisive but, to be blunt, it’s fair,” he said. “It’s fair to those in Milton County and it’s fair to the rest of the county.”

Belle Isle also pointed out the benefit north Fulton has been to the rest of the county.

“Fulton County has been operating on a generous budget, a very generous array of programs, for a generous amount of time and we have made that possible, the cities of north Fulton,” he said. “So there’s going to be a little bit of hurt in order to make [Milton County] happen.”

Roswell Mayor Jere Wood said that he sees Fulton County as a “dysfunctional government” that does not represent one united community anymore.

“I don’t think Fulton County will ever work the way it’s currently set up. I think it’s inevitable the county’s going to be split up,” he said. “Fulton County is not a community anymore.”

The north Fulton mayors all agreed that the issue of Milton County is not one that will be forgotten.

“No one said it was going to be easy,” said Mountain Park Mayor Jim Still. “But we definitely know it’s going to be worth it.”

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