February 26, 2018: Fire March 26, 2018: Police June 4, 2018: Parks & Recreation October 2018: Public Works Citywide Garbage Collection: Unknown (the city has no jurisdiction over Fulton County Schools)
City Manager Nominee Named Next Regular Council Meeting Tuesday, Feb 27 ● 5PM
South Fulton City Council
Seated (l to r): Catherine Rowell (District 1) ● Carmalitha Gumbs (District 2) ● Helen Z. Willis (District 3) ● Naeema Gilyard (District 4) ● Rosie Jackson (District 5)
Standing (l to r): Councilman khalid (District 6) ● Mayor Bill Edwards ● Mark Baker (District 7)
South Fulton Service Center 5600 Stonewall Tell Rd, 30349
The meeting is also likely to include updates on the city's transition timeline, creation of its new Police & Fire departments, and Citywide Garbage Collection. South Fulton City Council meetings occur in 3 parts: a 5PM & 7PM session (both of which are open to the public); and an Executive Session (closed to public). Georgia Law on Open Meetings (O.C.G.A. §50-14-3)states that City Council may only go into Executive Session to discuss a specific person, specific property. The rest of City Council discussions must be open to the public.
Thirty minutes are allotted during the 7PM Meeting for Public Comment. This usually happens around 7:30PM. Arrive by 6:45 to sign up for Public Comment.
FUTURE MEETING DATES (Regular Meetings held 2nd & 4th Tuesdays at 5PM) March 13, 2018 March 27, 2018
With no City Manager, South Fulton's Mayor will be responsible for transitioning Fire & Police employees to the city, and hiring the city's Police Chief.
Members of South Fulton City Council called 3 Emergency Meetings this year to discus personnel in the wake of the revelation that South Mayor William "Bill" Edwards had offered the Police Chief job to someone without notifying anyone on City Council.
Luther Lamar, Jr. worked as a police officer for Fulton County and the City of Atlanta, but has never been a Police Chief. He is currently the Assistant Chief of Police at Baton Rouge Community College in Louisiana, which has a police force of around 20 officers.
Several news outlets erroneously reported that South Fulton's City Council responded to this break in protocol by "firing" Lamar. However, South Fulton City Council only issued a statement of intent that the Chief of Police should be hired by the Permanent City Manager. According to South Fulton's City Charter, the hiring of a Police Chief is the job of a City Manager. (Sec. 3.25, lines 729, 737-38).
In the public portion of Wednesday's meeting, covered by Fox5 Atlanta news, Mayor Edwards admitted he misspoke about the hiring of a Police Chief.
City of South Fulton Now Hiring
The City of South Fulton is now hiring for positions in several departments, with competivive pay & excellent benefits for well-qualified applicants. New jobs are posted EVERY WEEK. Click the link below to view & apply.
A big item on South Fulton's Transition Agenda is the creation of citywide trash (sanitation) service. Our City Manager is finalizing the Request for Proposals (RFP) to be published in November. Sanitation companies will bid to provide services, and finalists will present their proposals to provide citywide services at public meetings in 2018. The expected start date for Citywide Sanitation Service is Spring 2018.
Moving to manditory, citywide garbage collection will cut down on illegal dumping and help preserve our newly paved streets, in addition to qualifying our city to receive millions in additional Local Option Sales Tax (L.O.S.T.) funds each year.
In the sanitation industry, the "commercial side" (pickup from businesses) yields far greater profits than residential pickup. Having one or two large companies handle commercial & residential pickup will likely yield the lowest prices for our citizens, because profits made on the commercial side can be used to discount residential pickup.
However, some citizens prefer their current, smaller companies; while others have concerns about putting these "mom-and-pop shops" out of business.
In Atlanta, the fee for Citywide Trash Service is included in the Property Tax Bills of owners. Fulton Tax Commissioner Authur Ferdinand's 99 percent collection rate, and the legal options available to prosecute those who do not pay property taxes, ensures that everyone pays for the service. This also ensures that property owners are held liable for having trash service even when commercial & residential renters refuse to pay for it.
In order for South Fulton to put the fee for garbage collection on the tax bill of property owners, the city may have to hire personnel to interface with the Fulton County Tax Commissioner and the private sanitation company(ies) we select to provide Citywide Trash Service.
The suggestion has been made to allow whatever private company is awarded the sanitation contracts(s) to collect their own fees. However, private companies have much lower payment collection rates than the Tax Commissioner, and no power to mandate payment from customers who do not pay, except refusing to pick up trash at an address.
Please take the Sanitation Survey below to share your thoughts on possible service providers.
Apply to Sit on the Historic Preservation Board
The City of South Fulton is creating a Historic Preservation Commission. Commission members are appointed by Councilmembers, serve 2-year terms.
Ideal candidates would be practicing professionals from the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, history, urban planning, archeology, real estate, law, or other disciplines related to historic preservation, or have a known and demonstrated interest, competence or knowledge in historic preservation and planning.
Fulton County Demands $1 Million from City to Complete Old National Sidewalks; Millions More for Other Improvement Projects
Some projects, such widening of Old National's sidewalks, and extending them to Highway 138 at the end of Fulton County, are not on the T-SPLOST project list. There is a second list of additional street projects called Capital Improvement Projects.
These projects were not funded by Sales Taxes; and Fulton County alleges that South Fulton must "chip in" 20 percent of the total costs of such projects for them to be completed. According to Fulton County, South Fulton's 20 percent obligation to fund these projects is over $7 million dollars.
Though the sidewalks on Old National from College Park to Flat Shoals Road are nearly complete, Phase II of the side walks — from Flat Shoals to Highway 138 — has not yet begun. Funding for this phase of sidewalks is over $1 million. However, according to Fulton County Public Works Director David Clark, only about $210,000 is needed in 2018 to purchase right-of-ways from Flat Shoals to Highway 138, with another $138,000 due for other allegedly unfunded projects throughout the city.
View more details on this story in khalid's Budget report, and a complete list of funding requests for such projects below.
Transition of Parks & Recreation Delayed Until June 2018
At its November 28 meeting, City Council announced the delay of transitioning Parks & Recreation to city control. The transition, slated for January 9, 2018, was delayed due to problems deploying computer systems necessary to run Parks & Recreation programs. These issues were unresolved by outgoing City Manager Ruth Jones. Parks & Recreation is now scheduled to transition to South Fulton June 4, 2018.
Kroger Dispels Rumors of Old National Store Closing
In November, rumors began circulating that South Fulton's Old National Kroger was scheduled to close on January 15.
Kroger's Atlanta Corporate Affairs/Public Relations Manager Felix Turner said in statement on November 21: "There are no plans to close the Old National store at this time."
Councilman khalid is arranging a meeting with in-store and regional managers of Kroger, similar to his Creel Park meeting, to discuss ways to "deepen Kroger & Old National's commitment to one another."
Join the #SouthFulton2030 Research Team
Councilman khalid is hiring several student interns to assist in legislative research. Get hands on experience in local government from constituent services to public policy. Learn how state, county & municipal governments are structured and interact with each other. Research, analyze & write municipal ordinances, resolutions and policy papers. Flexible hours allow students the ability to earn school credits and enhance their resumes.
The city is legally & financially obligated to transition these services, and set up citywide Sanitation Service, before November 2018. The cost of city name change is likely to run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Due to our current financial standing (see article in gold South Fulton 101 section on the right side of this page), it is unlikely that city will be able to afford a second name change this year.
Further complicating the set up of these departments is the fact that our city has been operating without a City Manager for two months, since Interim Manager Ruth Jones resigned in October.
Mayor Vetoes Renaissance Name Change Name Will Remain South Fulton
December 18 — South Fulton's Mayor, William "Bill" Edwards has vetoed City Council's vote to rename the city "Renaissance." City Council has twice voted to rename the city Renaissance, after going through a months-long renaming process spearheaded by the Mayor.
When the City takes control of these departments, it must continue all use of the Fulton County name (i.e. Fulton County Police). All fire engines and police cars must have new decals before going out on the streets. New badges and multiple sets of new uniforms must be ordered for the city's 300 Fire & Police offices. New building signs and stationery must be ordered, and state & federal authorities who work with and certify our Fire & Police departments must be notified of the name change.
After the first vote for the City Name, South Fulton Mayor Bill Edwards said he would not veto the Council's decision. Later, the Mayor told reporters he might veto the new name if enough residents complained. By its second vote on December 12, every member of City Council had voted for the name Renaissance at least once. This is the Mayor's fourth Veto of legislation passed by a majority of Councilmembers in less than a year. This is also the second time he has vetoed legislation after initially committing not to do so.
Fulton Board of Commissioners Approves Tax Collection by Arthur Ferdinand
The Fulton County Board of Commissioners voted August 1 to allow Fulton Tax Commissioner Dr. Arthur Ferdinand to collect taxes for South Fulton. All of the Fulton County Commission voted in favor of faith treatment for South Fulton, save North Fulton Commissioner Liz Hausmann.
Hausmann, who represents the cities of John's Creek, Sandy Springs & Milton, has announced her intention to follow in the footsteps of Republican Karen Handel, who left the County Commission to run for Secretary of State, before becoming a Congresswoman for Georgia's sixth district. Each new city has the right to enter into an agreement with a Tax Collector of its choosing. The agreement between Fulton County and South Fulton to allow Arthur Ferdinand to collect our city's taxes was blocked by North Fulton Commissioners Liz Hausmann & Bob Ellis.
There are seven seats on the Fulton County Commission. North Fulton has three commission seats. South Fulton has another three seats, and the Chair of the Commission (John Eaves) is elected at-large by the entire county. A majority vote of four commissioners is required to approve the agreement.
Chairman Eaves could have sided with South Fulton's three Commissioners to approve the contract. However, the untimely death of Fulton County Commissioner Joan Garner (District 4) means that now one of North Fulton's commissioners must support the agreement in order for it to be approved. North Fulton Commissioners Lee Morriis & Bob Ellis split with Hausmann — the sole vote against South Fulton.
Due to the untimely death of District 4 Commissioner, one of North Fulton's three Commissioners was needed to approve Ferdinand as South Fulton's Tax Collector. Hausmann as the only Commissioner to vote against South Fulton.
Hausmann stated repeatedly that she was simply representing the concerns of her community. However, two of the cities she represents — Sandy Springs & John's Creek — use Arthur Ferdinand to collect their taxes, and pay him the same fee being proposed in South Fulton's contract.
Hausmann alleges her issue is not with the fee, but "where it goes." County law requires that cities who choose Arthur Ferdinand to collect their taxes must pay his office $1 per parcel for doing the work. The more cities that contract with Ferdinand, the more money he & his office make. Because of his unparalleled skills in tax collection, Arthur Ferdinand has become the Tax Collector of choice for Fulton County's most prosperous cities, and the highest paid elected official in the state.
Commissioner Marvin Arrington Jr., who represents parts of South Fulton, noted the double standard being applied by the North Fulton Commissioners, and reminded them of the County Commission's previous, public commitment to treat South Fulton no differently than other new cities.
Other tensions between the new City of South Fulton & Fulton County include the their InterGovernmental Agreement (IGA), whose terms are different than those offered to the cities of Sandy Springs, John's Creek & Milton.
InterGovernmental Agreement (IGA) with Fulton County
A sticking point in our transition to cityhood is our InterGovernmental Agreement (IGA) with Fulton County. The IGA outlines what Fulton County will charge South Fulton to continue Police, Fire, Parks, Public Works and other services until we take them over. As Fulton County's IGAs with other cities did, our IGA details what will pay for the buildings, land, cars & other equipment currently used by the County; and what will we pay Fulton County to continuing delivering each department's services until control of that department is transferred completely to our city.
At issue is the depreciated value of these assets (how much should we pay for a 10 year-old police car?), and how much of the $322 million in tax dollars that Fulton County collected from our area in the past 10 years was used by the county to pay for and maintain them.
Fulton County Commissioners considered such factors in previous transitions with the cities of Dunwoody, Sandy Springs and others. The County Commission offered buildings, cars, land & equipment to new cities at deeply discounted prices. According to Fulton County Commissioner Marvin Arrington, Jr., South Fulton will get the same deals.
City Council Creates Community Controlled Commissions & Advisory Boards
To increase community input in city decisions, South Fulton's City Council is creating community-controlled commissions and advisory boards. Each Councilperson is allowed to make one appointment to each board.
Developer makes presentation to Sandy Springs Zoning Board
The first 3 of these boards concern Planning, Zoning & Building Codes, which individuals and developers must meet with to build anything in our city.
South Fulton's Department of Planning & Zoning will maintain Zoning & Land Use Maps, Design Overlays (which detail building specifications for each type of building in each area of the city), and track all applications for new building permits. When a developer wishes to build or alter any structure in the city, they will have to come before one or all of the following boards.
City Council has extended the moratorium on new zoning applications, which was due to expire July 30, for up to another 90 days. The 90-day extension gives the City Manager more time to set up the Planning & Zoning Department, including the procurement of an electronic tracking system for zoning applications, and the hiring of a department manager, engineers, and site directors.
This moratorium also gives Mayor & Council more time to review & appoint individuals to community-controlled Zoning Boards being created to increase citizen involvement in local zoning decisions. The Council may lift the zoning moratorium anytime before its October 30 end date, if the Planning & Zoning department and Community Boards are ready
Code Enforcement Reunited with Zoning Under New Division of Development Services
When it is brought over under City control, the Department of Code Enforcement will be runited with Planning & Zoning under a new division of Development Services, whose director will also oversee Engineering & Site Development, Building & Permitting and Geographic Information Systems (GIS, or the "maps") department.
The plan, announced during the June 6 work session of South Fulton City Council, is designed to unify the vision and processes of all departments that deal with the planning & regulation of commercial development in South Fulton, a top priority for Mayor & Council. Code Enforcement will continue receiving backup from Fulton County Police.
Until City Council appoints a Chief Judge and sets up City Court, Code Enforcement cases will be heard by Fulton County Magistrate Court at Stonewall Tell.
Transferring Employees Get 90-Day Probation, Keep Salary & Benefits
All employees who transfer from Fulton are required to fill out a job application with the city and complete a 90-Day Probation period. South Fulton Human Resources representatives will meet with all transferring departments and individuals to discuss the transfer process.
Current Fulton County employees who transfer with their departments to South Fulton will maintain their current pay. They will keep the same health benefits until the end of the 2017 Calendar Year, when benefits for all employees are re-negotiated with insurance companies and selected by employees during Open Enrollment.
The only change in benefits to take effect before that time is the management of the 457 Defined Benefit Retirement (Pension) Plan. South Fulton selected Mass Mutual to manage its 457 Plan. Mass Mutual has received high marks for handling investments of municipal employees. Previous contributions made to TIAA-Cref can remain there or be rolled over to Mass Mutual.
Anyone with questions about transitioning departments, transferring benefits, or employment with the new city should contact South Fulton HR Department at Employment@CityofSouthFultonGA.gov.
New Franchise Fees for Some Utilities
Greystone customers and others may receive written notice from their utility providers about a Franchise Fee being charged by our new city. Utility companies are charged these fees to access right-of-ways on city, county and state properties. These nominal fees of 4-5% of a customer's bill usually total only a few dollars, and help fund the oversight of utilities in our city.
Good News From South Fulton
Old National's Newest Firefighter, Joshua Herring
The Fulton County Fire Department graduated 18 new firefighters last month, including Joshua Herring, who will be joining the brave men & women at our local Fire Station #5 on Bethsaida Road. Please stop by and welcome our new neighbor!
Creel Park Tennis Courts Re-Open (Our Tax Dollars at Work In Our Neighborhood)
Thanks to the tireless efforts of neighbors in the Old National area, and the support of compassionate, Fulton County Commissioner Emma Darnell, the rundown tennis courts at Creel Park have been completely resurfaced and are now open for play.
As an unincorporated area, we gave Fulton County over $15 million of our tax dollars every year; but we had to fight to get that money back to fund projects like this. As the City of South Fulton, our tax dollars will stay in our neighborhoods. And as your city councilman, I will make sure your money is spent the way YOU want.
Let's END the School-to-Prison Pipeline
Across the nation, researchers and award-winning cities are innovating programs to intervene in the lives of at-rish youth before they enter the prison pipeline.
Click on the links below to listen to GBP "Second Thought" episodes and learn how South Fulton can invest in our Juveniles instead of our Juvenile Detention System.
One 14-Hour Intervention Changes Brain Scans & Biology of At-Risk Teens
Savannah Saves At-Risk Youth by Teaching Them A Trade
Urban Farming Best Practices of Award Winning Cities
Appetite For Change is a community lead nonprofit in Minneapolis that uses food as a tool to build health, wealth and social change in the cities urban areas through community cooking workshops, and urban agriculture. The organization boasts its own neighborhood restaurant, as well as a catering company and food business incubator.
The song above was written and produced by youth in its urban farming program, which provides direct career pathways to the farming and food service industry.
Click on the zoomable maps below to find out where you are in our new city.
District 6 (Central Old National) Map
South Fulton, GA Citywide Map
South Fulton 101 TV: What Does a City Manager Do?
A Schoolhouse Rock® for adults, South Fulton 101 TV is a series of short videos created by Councilman khalid to educate South Fulton citizens on how their new city government works. Watch the latest South Fulton 101 video here!
4 Frequently Asked Questions About Cityhood
Q: Where did the name Renaissance come from? A:Concerned citizens began suggesting names over a year ago, even before the November 2016 vote that created our city was taken. Over 250 names were submitted. City Council hired a Marketing Firm to narrow down the list to 20 names, which City Council voted on this November.
Georgia Law prohibits us from just listing a bunch of names on the ballot. In order to add any question to a ballot, a voter must collect signatures from 20 percent of registered voters – that would be 23,815 for each city name to appear on a ballot. To get around this, khalid conducted an online poll for the Top 20 names on the shortlist. More info on the process and name can be found HERE.
Though all seven Councilpeople voted for the name "Renaissance," the name was vetoed by the Mayor in favor of South Fulton.
Q: When & where are City Council meetings? Can I attend? A: Council Meetings will be held the 2nd & 4th Tuesday of each month at 7PM. All Council Meetings are open to the public, including Council Work Sessions, which are currently scheduled for 5PM every 2nd & 4th Tuesday, just before the Council Meetings. Work Sessions are used to discuss Issues, but votes on any given issue are only taken at Council Meetings.
The first 30 minutes of each meeting are open for Public Comment. The first few meetings are expected to be filled to capacity, so citizens are encouraged to arrive early!Seniors & disabled citizens are encouraged to schedule rides with MARTA Mobility by calling (404) 848-5826. To sign up for this service, please call (404) 848-5389 Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 5pm. Trips must be scheduled by 5pm the day before.
Q: What services would the City provide? A: By November 2018, our city will run the Police, Fire, Parks and Recreation, Code Enforcement, Public Works, Planning, Zoning, and Economic Development department, and City Court (which handles misdemeanor offences like traffic violations, code enforcement, marijuana & loitering).The jail, schools, health department and most courts, will remain run by Fulton County. The current Transition Timeline is as follows: July 2017: Planning & Zoning August 2017: Code Enforcement November 1, 2017: Municipal Court February 26, 2018: Fire March 26, 2018: Police October 2018: Public Works June 4, 2018: Parks & Recreation
Q: Will my Property Taxes go up? A: No. Unincorporated Fulton county has been paying for Police, Fire & other county services on our own since 2007 (when cities like Sandy Springs & Milton “broke away” and formed their own departments). Should residents decide we want more services than we have now, you culd see a slight increase in your property taxes. However, a provision of GA House Bill 514 (our city’s charter) prohibits City Council from raising property taxes more than 1 mil (1/1000th) without a citywide vote. For a $100,000 house whose Assessed Value is $40,000, such an increase would be $40 more per year. ALL Senior Homestead Exemptions that currently apply to your county property taxes will automatically transfer to the new City
FACT CHECK: Is Crime Increasing as Fulton County Police Leave?
Major Crimes are down in South Fulton from 2016.
Contrary to South Fulton's overrepresentation in local news' crime reporting, and exaggerated rumors of police officers transferring to other departments ahead of a Fulton PD's transfer of power to the City of South Fulton, there has been no statistical increase in crime. In fact, as the data above displays, there has actually been a reduction in all major crimes according to the most current statistics available.
Though a few police officers have transferred to departments in other locals, Fulton County police continue to perform well beyond their small number. "This isn't to say we don't have some work to do," explains Councilman khalid. "However we cannot let baseless rumors and gossip drive our public policy."
FACT CHECK: Did City Council Cut the Budget of the Parks Department?
No. Actually, City Council raised this year's Parks Budget by over $500,000
The Parks Budget under Fulton County for 2016-2017 was: $4,416,201
The Parks Budget for City of South Fulton 2017-2018 is: $4,985,326
The budget for Parks & Recreation was increased by over $569,125 this year.
So, where does this myth come from? The City held 3 Budget Hearings this September, in preparation for the FY2018 Budget (which begins October 1, like a school year). During the 2nd Budget Hearing, it appears that City Council voted to take money from the Parks & Recs Budget for its Legislative Specialists/Council Aides.
Howerver, this is because in the middle of the budget process, $1 Million went "missing" from the City Budget. After this vote was taken, Councilmembers questioned the City Manager about the missing funds. The money was "found," double-budgted in another department. The Interim City Manager, Ruth Jones, resigned shortly thereafter.
Click the link below to view our city’s Final Parks Budget for FY2018 (Oct 1, 2017-2018).
Understanding the Accounting Behind the City of South Fulton
Did you know that South Fulton County has been operating as a city for the past 10 years, paying for our own Police, Fire, Parks and more?
Georgia Tech Professor of Contracting & Procurement Kevin Grimes digs into the numbers and explains the economic feasibility of a City of South Fulton.
City Receives Over $1Million per Month in Local Sales Taxes
Whenever anyone shops anywhere in Fulton County, 1 cent of every 7.75 cents of sales tax goes to the Local Option Sales Tax (L.O.S.T.) Fund. Those pennies equal millions of dollars each month, which are divided among each of Fulton County's 15 cities, according to population size. (This is why making sure everyone is counted in the 2020 Census is critical. The larger our city's population people in our city, the larger our share of this pot, and state and federal funds.)
Now that we are incorporated as a city, these monthly L.O.S.T. payments come directly to us, and must be spent on our city. On June 29, 2017, South Fulton received the first of these monthly payments, totaling $1,800,000.00. That's millions more for Police, Community Programs, Economic Development and city services.
Please read the #ShopSouthFulton section below to learn how you can support outstanding local businesses AND help generate more money for our city!
College Park Tire & Auto (Cooper Tires) 6169 Old National Hwy, 30349
Headed by the father & son team of Thaddeus and "Lance" White, College Park Tire & Auto celebrates 25 years of service on Old National.
White purchased the business in 1992 from another African American owner, Skip Simon. Before opening his own auto shop, White Sr. worked as a Regional Manager for Goodyear. Though known for their "Cooper Tires" sign on Old National, the store actually sells all brands of tires, including Goodyear, Michelin & Pirelli, and offers a full suite of auto services, including auto-detailing starting for as little as $35.
College Park Tire & Auto sets themselves apart from other area shops by providing "World Class Customer Service" — a phrase heard repeatedly here. All work comes with a minimum 1 year or 12,000 mile-warranty.
But what really sets this South Fulton business apart is its support of our community. From sponsoring various sports teams at Old National Park to career days at Love T. Nolan Elementary, Thaddeus White & College Park Tire can be found investing in young people all over Old National.
Please visit this local business for your future auto needs, and share pictures of your experience with the hashtags #SouthFulton & #OurDollarsMatter.
In November 2016, voters approved an additional 0.75 cents Transportation Special Projects Local Option Sales Tax (T-SPLOST) for road improvements in Fulton County. Click here to review a Complete List of South Fulton T-SPLOST Projects, which include nearly $10 million in Tier 1 funding to resurface South Fulton's busiest streets, and another $24 million to repave and improve roads in South Fulton subdivisions. A description of South Fulton improvement projects begin on page 59 (Unincorporated Fulton). Tier 2 projects in our district include bridge improvements on Bethsaida Road near Highway 139 (pg 119), $1 million to improve the intersection at Bethsaida & Creel Roads (pg 121), and another $1 million in improvements along Flat Shoals Road (pg 126).
Developers have once again set their sights on the land around our airport — the world's busiest.Aerotropolis Atlanta is a mixed-use development, including a 4-star InterContinental hotel, class-A office space, and travel plaza adjacent to the airport’s main domestic terminal and MARTA station, which along with the Porsche headquarters, is part of a larger vision by Invest Atlanta, Delta Airlines, Georgia Power, SunTrust Bank & others to transform the vicinity around the Airport on Atlanta's Southside.
The initiative is broken into two segments — an organization of land owners in airport areas Business Districts, or CIDs in Fulton & Clayton counties, and a larger coalition working on a more comprehensive Economic Development plan.
South Fulton's Mayor & Council will be housed at 5440 Fulton Industrial, 30336
Work is underway to reconfigure the Fulton County offices at 5440 Fulton Industrial Boulevard into South Fulton, Georgia's first City Hall.
Fulton County Police, Fire, Planning & Zoning and code enforcement — all of which will be transitioning to city control this year — are already housed in this building. Fulton County has agreed to transfer the building's lease to South Fulton; and to keep us in the building, its owner has agreed to lease & build out an additional 10,000 square feet of space at hugely discounted rates.
All this means huge savings of money and time for the City, which allows us to focus on building other city infrastructure and improving our services. Most new cities wait 7-10 years before building a city hall "from scratch," so they can build their financial reserves. This was the case with John's Creek and Sandy Springs.
FACT CHECK: Why Not Call a Citywide Vote for New City Name?
Many have asked: Why not just put the name two a citywide vote?
There are three reasons this is probably not possible at this time: 1) Legal Limitations 2) Logistical Considerations 3) Timeline of Cityhood Transition
LEGAL LIMITATIONS In order to place a referendum (question for voters) on an official ballot, Georgia State Law O.C.G.A. §36-35-3 requires citizens to collect around 17,000 signatures (15 percent of the city’s 119,073 Registered Voters) for each proposed name to be added to the ballot. Additionally, even if either of these solutions was pursued, O.C.G.A. § 21-2-540(c)(2) limits such ballot questions to the following dates in 2018: May 22 and November 6.
Neither of these would give us enough time to transition departments. Remember: we are legally & financially obligated to set up Fire, Police & Sanitation services before November 2018.
What About a Non-Binding Vote? The suggestion has been made by several others that the city hold a non-legally binding Election where voters could give direct feedback.
A proposal gaining popularity in recent weeks is to open polls at City Hall (5440 Fulton Industrial) and the South Service Center (5600 Stonewall Tell) for citizens to hold a citywide vote on the name. Voters would select between 5 names, with a citywide vote occurring around the MLK Holiday in mid-January.
However, a Non-Legally Binding Election means that even if thousands of people came out to vote for the City Name, our City Council would still be required to hold its own vote. No Councilmember would be obliged to cast a vote for the top choice of citizens.
This is exactly what happened during City Council's November 13 vote for the City Name. Though the name South Fulton lead in many online surveys, its popularity was NOT reflected in the votes of Councilmembers.
Sample Notice of Election postcard.
LOGISTICAL CONSIDERATIONS If the City were to conduct a non-biniding Election, here are some logistical issues to consider:
How Would Residents Be Notified? One of the biggest complaints of our residents is the lack of communication from the city about the name change. Though much information about the city is available online, and in electronic newsletters like this one, residents have pressed for paper notification of such events.
Indeed, in a legally binding Special Election, a Notice of Election would be sent to every eligible registered voter, with the date(s) of the Election and the location(s) where s/he could go vote. To print & mail such a notice to all eligible voters would cost the city around $50,000. What City Names Would Go On the Ballot? Nearly 300 different names were submitted by residents who were aware of our renaming. Countless other names were brought by others as they found out about the renaming.
Many residents were displeased with the process Marketing Firms Vivo 360 & firstClass Inc. used to narrow the list to the 20 most popular names. How many names would be placed on the ballot for a citywide election — 5, 50 or 500 — and what process would be used to select them?
If no name received over 50 percent of the popular vote, would a runoff be held?
These are some of the crucial questions that must be answered, in addition to figuring out who would supervise the voting and counting of the ballots, before any such election could be held.
$5000 was spent to place City Seals on 18 Code Enforcement trucks. Hundreds of Police, Fire, Parks and Public Works vehicles will need similar decals before they can be used by the City.
TRANSITION TIMELINE Even if these questions could be resolved and Election held by January 15, because such an election would not be legally-binding, City Council would still be reqired to vote on the issue — twice. Our Charter (our city's "Constitution") requires a City Name change be voted on twice, with 3 weeks of public notice between the 2 votes. To change this requirement would require Council to amend the City Charter, which also requires 2 separate votes taken 3 weeks apart.
(Now one can begin to see Councilman khalid's frustration with legal hurdles preventing him from moving his office to Creel Park)
Because of these requirements and their timelines, no new name would be officially cleared for use by the city before mid-February, when the City is slated to set up the Fire Department.
So, any more discussion on our City Name will result in one of two consequences:
We delay setting up our city's Fire & Police departments
-OR- We pay hundreds of thousands for 2 name changes: “Renaissance” or “South Fulton” now; and a second Name Change later.
Please Note: if we intend to delay the transition of any County Department, we must notify the County 30 days in advance. That means, to delay the transitioning of our Fire Department would require a vote by City Council to be taken on or before our January 23 meeting.
Delaying setting up city services is also problematic. Our city is currently paying hundreds of thousands in administrative fees to Fulton County for them to run the Fire, Police, Parks and Public Works departments until they are brought under our City control. Financing two name changes is neither feasible nor wise, given the city's current financial challenges (see next article).
South Fulton Finalizes 2018 Budget
The Calendar by which our City budgets & spends money is known as the Fiscal Year (FY).FY2018 will begin October 1, 2017 (much like the 2018 School Year begins in Fall 2017).
Budget Workshops to prepare this budget were originally scheduled as private meetings at City Hall. A Resolution written by Councilman khalid in August opened those meetings to the public to view.
Tuesday's final 2 Budget Hearings give South Fulton residents an opportunity to respond to what they have seen. Please review the Proposed Budget and Councilman khalid's report on it at the link below.
As the chart below shows, South Fulton currently pays its Department Heads and Assistants salaries often higher than similarly-sized cities like Roswell and Sandy Springs; even though our main revenue sources are less than half of those cities.
Councilman khalid proposes to cut salaries by 20 percent for all non-Public Safety personnel at Pay Grade 25 and above (those making more than $60,000/year). So department heads making annual salaries at or near $100,000 would make around $80,000.
South Fulton is currently paying its Department Heads more than northside cities with much higher home values and incomes.
khalid's Commentary #BlackLivesMatter in South Fulton
My City Hall Portrait
Like many young men, I came to the inaugural meeting of theAtlanta Chapter of #BlackLivesMatterangry about the unnecessary deaths of local victims like Alexia Christian, Anthony Hill, Nicholas Thomas, Caine Rogers, Ariston Waiters, and a list of others that is growing way too long. But I quickly became immersed in the interdisciplinary activism of #BlackLivesMatter, which includes fighting for liveable wages, affordable housing and access to healthcare.
Community Comes Together To Support Family of Slain Liquor Store Clerk
Click picture to see 11Alive News Story
December 23, 2017 — Just three days before Christmas, a shootout during an attempted robbery at Old National Liquor Store in College Park leaves three dead, including a mother of six. But men from the Old National Area are stepping up to help support the family.
35 year-old Mashonda "Mimi" Roberts was caught in a crossfire between Old National Liquor Store owner Tea Moe & 19 year-old Brandon Doe, a star football player from the Valdosta area. The teenager attempted to rob the store last Friday and ended up in a shootout with the owner. There is no information yet on why Doe, one of Georgia's top-ranked high school running backs, was involved in the armed robbery attempt, or how he ended up in the Old National area. Doe & Moe died on the scene, while Roberts died later at Grady Hospital.
Mimi leaves behind six children — four girls & two boys aged 9, 10, 11, 12, 15 & 17 — just two days before Christmas. Longtime community activist Torrey Tomlinson of Old National Entertainment (O.N.E.) has teamed up with Keith Lewis of I'm A Father Firstto provide Christmas gifts for the children and financial support for the family.
South Fulton Celebrates Burdett Coach Elbert Outlaw
Fulton County's Parks & Recreation Department celebrates the life of Old National's iconic basketball Coach Elbert Outlaw with the dedication of a court at the Burdett Gym, and the First Annual Holiday Basketball Tournement — The Elbert Outlaw Holiday Classic.
Burdett Park's Coach Elbert “Al” Lewis Outlaw passed away Saturday, June 17, 2017. “Coach Law” mentored a generation of youth in our community in basketball; and as a teacher & advisor. He was a father figure to many who walked through the doors of Burdett Gym and heard those words he repeated so often: “Heart. Pride. Determination.”
Former Burdett Park regular-turned-R&B Superstar Richard Wingo with Old National Councilwoman Rosie Jackson
South Fulton City Council, along with Fulton County Parks Director Tony Phillips, Commissioner Emma Darnell, and the Fulton County Parks Department, gathered to celebrate the life the legendary Burdett basketball coach with a Court Dedication and Annual Alumni Basketball Tournament.
Fulton County Commission Freezes Property Tax Hike
A new "South Fulton" line on this year's tax bill replaces the SSD (Special Service District) line which has been used since 2007 to show the portion of property taxes allocated to unincorporated South Fulton, now the City of South Fulton.
The Fulton County Tax Assessor agrees not to challenge the Fulton County Commission's freezing of Property Taxes of non-new, private homeowners at 2016 levels. Adjusted Tax Notices should arrive in the mail in August. Appeals for previous notices are nullified and do not need to be filed.
According to Fulton County's Chief Appraiser, Dwight Robinson, the higher 2017 valuations will not change for commercial properties or parcels, new homes or newly renovated homes.
Finally, please check your Tax Notice to ensure that your taxable value appears on the South Fulton line (see image above). If you want to be in the City of South Fulton, but are currently being taxed as a resident of another city, please contact the Fulton County Tax Assessor's office at (404) 612-6440.
Earlier this year, Fulton County residents were shocked to receive Property Tax bills for 2017 which were significantly higher than 2016. This increase came from the Fulton County Tax Assessor (not the City of South Fulton), who for the first time in 3 years, has re-assessed the value of homes across all of Fulton County.
According to the Fulton Tax Assessors office, property values in Fulton County have not been reassessed since the housing market began recovering 3-4 years ago. The Tax Assessor tried to make up for these lost years in this year's revaluation, which increased property taxes in some areas more than 50 percent.
The good news is that property values are rising across metro Atlanta. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the median increase in home values is around 13 percent. However, some areas — especially intown neighborhoods home to an influx of gentrifying millennials — are seeing increases of over 50 percent. This does NOT mean that your Property Taxes will rise by the same percentage, because the Tax Commissioner only taxes a fraction of that increase.
Chairman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, John Eaves, is also running for Mayor of Atlanta
Fulton County Commission Chair John Eaves used a law from the 1880s to freeze Fulton Property Taxes at 2016 rates.
However, local school boards may vote to raise property taxes independent of the County Commission or Tax Assessor. School systems, particularly Atlanta Public Schools, have been vocal supporters of the tax hike, which they claim is necessary to stave off cuts to teachers and school staff for our growing schools.
If you have questions about your Property Tax Bill, please contact the Fulton County Tax Commissioner's office at: (404) 613-6100.
Additionally, Fulton County Commissioners are considering a 15 percent increase in water/sewer rates (5 percent/year for the next 3 years).
The Fulton County Board of Commissioners usually meets the first Wednesday of every month.
Residents concerned about these increases are encouraged to attend County Commission meetings (usually held the 1st Wednesday of every month) and contact their County Commissioner concerning these issues.
The County Commissioners covering the Old National area are Emma Darnell and former County Commission Chairman John Eaves, who is running for Mayor of Atlanta. Commissioner Marvin Arrington, Jr. covers other parts of South Fulton. Their contact information is as follows:
Citing vocal resistance from residents, and the probability that College Park's elected official would side with their constituents, developers have withdrawn their controversial bid to build a gun range at 5025 Old National Highway (the old Target building). The hearing on the issue at tonight's College Park City Council meeting has been cancelled.
As it happened with the 18-pump gas station planned for Creel Road at Old National Highway, the clamor of concerned residents caused developers to withdraw their application before it was voted on. Continued vigilance by our residents will help ensure responsible economic development in our neighborhoods.
Governor Stops Vote on Fulton Industrial Annexation
Gov. Nathan Deal has vetoed legislation that would have allowed Fulton County residents to decide whether Fulton Industrial Boulevard (FIB) would be part of the new city of South Futon, Georgia. South Fulton has won several court battles with the City of Atlanta over these last five square miles of unincorporated Fulton County, which generate approximately $5 million per year in property taxes.
It is widely believed that Governor Deal vetoed 2017 House Bills 131 & 132, which would have put the issue on the November 2017 ballot, as a favor to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. Reed, along with many Atlanta City Councilmembers, have been fighting the City of South Fulton over much of its northern neighborhoods, which are adjacent to Atlanta and contain a large block of reliably Democratic, Black voters. Atlanta is on the verge of becoming a majority white city. In 2008, Reed beat Republican Mary Norwood (who is running for Mayor again this year) by only 714 votes in a runoff election.
Several FIB businesses have expressed interest in becoming part of South Fulton; and South Fulton's State Representatives, lead by State Rep. Debra Bazemore (HD-63), have vowed to re-introduce the bill in 2018.
South Fulton Responds to Irma
Councilman khalid helps clear downed trees in Old National neighborhoods.