Stockbridge to lose half its revenue if new city emerges, report states

Stockbridge may lose between $4.2 million and $6.1 million in revenue if the proposed city of Eagle’s Landing becomes a reality, a report recently stated.

The report’s topic, the proposed de-annexation of areas from the existing city, included the fiscal impact of such action, previously estimated by the city at nearly $5 million.

Stockbridge’s 2017 budget is about $9 million; its proposed 2018 budget is about $9.7 million.

City spokeswoman Charisma Webster said Mayor Judy Neal and the city council heard the results Nov. 8 from the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government in a hearing before the state Senate committee on state and local governmental operations.

Henry delegation members District 17 State Sen. Rick Jeffares, R-McDonough, and state representatives Dale Rutledge, Andy Welch and Brian Strickland submitted bills supporting the city of Eagle’s Landing in the 2017 session, which can be carried over in 2018.

If enacted into law and approved by voters, the legislation can be “damaging,” Neal said.

“To remove between 44 percent and 64 percent of the city’s revenues is wrong and will tear this community apart,” she said in a statement.

Webster said the property proposed to be de-annexed will, if approved, put about 33 percent of the existing city’s population into the new one.

It will also relocate 48 percent of the assessed value of the city’s residential properties and 54 percent of commercial properties’ assessed value, she said.

City Manager Randy Knighton said there is “a major two-fold problem” with the situation.

“First, it takes away nearly half of the city’s current revenues, which would very likely require the city to impose a property tax, which we do not have now,” he said in a statement. “Second, it removes half of the taxable property from the city, meaning the remaining property owners in the city would likely have to pay proportionately much higher property taxes.”

Mayor Pro Tem Anthony S. Ford said in August that Jeffares may be changing his stance on the situation; this month, Ford called on all sponsors of the Senate and House bills to withdraw.

“Members of the general assembly have indicated that they would not support moving forward if this action would harm the city of Stockbridge,” Ford said in a statement. “Now that the report has confirmed that our city would indeed be affected in a very unfavorable way, we hope the members of the general assembly will understand the importance of not moving forward with this legislation.”

Now mayor-elect after the Nov. 7 election, Ford said calls “for the community to unite following election campaigns” are always in order.

“But in light of the threat this legislation poses for Stockbridge,” Ford said, “it is even more important for us to unite behind our efforts to defeat this legislation and save Stockbridge.”

The Eagles Landing Educational Research Committee released a feasibility study from Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies in August, saying the new municipality will be financially feasible.

It would have a revenue stream of about $7.4 million, including a 0.02 mill property tax.

Stockbridge has been holding town hall meetings about the proposed city.

The next one is Dec. 6 at 3 p.m. at city hall, 4840 N. Henry Blvd.

Information: Eagles Landing, http://bit.ly/2sSqeKQ; Stockbridge, http://bit.ly/2rXIdeZ

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