Pros and cons of incorporation (cityhood)

What are the benefits to becoming a city?

1) A government closer to people and more responsive to their needs. Currently a DeKalb county commissioner represents approximately 130,000 people and 54 sq. miles. A city of approximately  60,000 residents could potentially have 5-6 commissioners, who live in the community and represent fewer citizens, thus bringing government closer to the people.

2)  More control over land use (zoning) and development to decide on things like new subdivisions, teardowns, construction, nightclubs, apartments, strips malls and other uses.

3) Mechanism to revitalize residential and commercial areas.

4) Tax equity. More local dollars spent locally.

5) Improved community identity.

6) Advocates – elected officials and city staff — to improve quality of life.  Many incorporated cities  have a downtown development authority and economic development professionals on staff. Staff could work for the benefit of the city,  including the collection of state and federal grants.

What are the risks to becoming a city?

1) Requires a grassroots effort with a tremendous volunteer movement and popular support
Must provide evidence to state legislature of financial feasibility, by funding a professional study, such as one written by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, which can cost upwards of $30,000.

2) No action leaves unincorporated area  as is for the short term.

3)  County is currently experienced in providing services and new city would have no experience.

4)  Without infrastructure, city would have to hire 3rd party, as Sandy Springs did, to take over services.

5)  Without cash in the bank, the new city would have to finance initial operations.

What does it take to be a city?

1) A Georgia city must have a population of 200 persons, with an average population of 200  persons per square mile.

2) Cities must hold regular elections and public meetings. Cities must also provide three of the following services – police, fire, street maintenance, solid waste management, water supply, waste-water treatment, storm water collection, electric,  natural gas, code enforcement, planning/zoning, and recreation.

- Some of this information is from a Georgia Tech graduate student study completed in 2006