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Old 08-23-2013, 05:06 AM
 
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I was reading some history the other day and Georgia counties were mostly drawn to be centered around one main city. For example, Alpharetta was the center of one time Milton County. Originally Fulton and Dekalb were one large county with Decatur at the center. Then when Atlanta was established, Fulton was split off from Dekalb to have Atlanta at its center with DeKalb keeping Decatur.

This approach actually makes sense. Have incorporated cities handle local affairs, and the county provides support for the broader "metro" area. Of course as we have grown and spread out, metro areas are now huge.

Should Georgia, at least around metro Atlanta restructure counties around this philosophy? Right now it seems like counties are serving little purpose and mostly duplicating services with cities. At the same time we seem to be missing a level of government to handle metro level problems. Should we consolidate metro Atlanta counties together and shift power to cities to handle more local control? I know politically this will be tricky but there could be ways to ease into it. Thoughts?
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Old 08-23-2013, 05:13 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsvh View Post
I was reading some history the other day and Georgia counties were mostly drawn to be centered around one main city. For example, Alpharetta was the center of one time Milton County. Originally Fulton and Dekalb were one large county with Decatur at the center. Then when Atlanta was established, Fulton was split off from Dekalb to have Atlanta at its center with DeKalb keeping Decatur.

This approach actually makes sense. Have incorporated cities handle local affairs, and the county provides support for the broader "metro" area. Of course as we have grown and spread out, metro areas are now huge.

Should Georgia, at least around metro Atlanta restructure counties around this philosophy? Right now it seems like counties are serving little purpose and mostly duplicating services with cities. At the same time we seem to be missing a level of government to handle metro level problems. Should we consolidate metro Atlanta counties together and shift power to cities to handle more local control? I know politically this will be tricky but there could be ways to ease into it. Thoughts?
Before this could even get off the ground, you would have to restructure public school systems. As long as most are tied to county systems, there isn't a chance in a million that this could happen.

Then there is this -- politicians like their power. Merging governments means fewer elected officials, and most likely fewer jobs. Neither would be real popular with the decision makers.
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Old 08-27-2013, 11:16 PM
 
Location: West Cobb (formerly Vinings)
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I'm happy with Cobb schools. Wouldn't want them mixed with Dekalb, etc. I also don't want the financial problems of other counties.

Cobb has turned into a nice little city of around 700,000 people. Perhaps one day it'll be the center of the metro area. ;-)

Now, on a serious note. I grew up in a state with no county governments - Connecticut. They were disbanded in the early 1900s. Taxes were ridiculous since cities had to cover their own school board, had to handle their own growth at various times, etc. By ridiculous, I'm talking about approaching $12,000 in some towns for a $400k home. Poor areas had horrible schools, much worse than anything here. Rich areas had much better schools than anything in GA. The inequity was appalling. You actually get some benefits from spreading out the costs across a broader swath of people, since the squeaky wheel changes from decade to decade.
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Old 08-28-2013, 07:06 AM
 
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Originally Posted by netdragon View Post
I'm happy with Cobb schools. Wouldn't want them mixed with Dekalb, etc. I also don't want the financial problems of other counties.
Not suggesting school systems be merged. They would be handled locally. You would have more control over your area, not less.

Quote:
Originally Posted by netdragon View Post
Now, on a serious note. I grew up in a state with no county governments - Connecticut. They were disbanded in the early 1900s. Taxes were ridiculous since cities had to cover their own school board, had to handle their own growth at various times, etc. By ridiculous, I'm talking about approaching $12,000 in some towns for a $400k home. Poor areas had horrible schools, much worse than anything here. Rich areas had much better schools than anything in GA. The inequity was appalling. You actually get some benefits from spreading out the costs across a broader swath of people, since the squeaky wheel changes from decade to decade.
Connecticut is an example of why too much governmental complexity causes problems. Not too little. The old counties still remain for purposes of the state marshals. Then the state also has regional administrative districts that handle zoning and legislative issues. Then you have "towns" that function a lot like our counties do and have Home Rule, Corporate powers, Eminent domain, Ability to levy taxes, Public services (low cost housing, waste disposal, fire, police, ambulance, street lighting), Public works (highways, sewers, cemeteries, parking lots, etc.), Regulatory powers (building codes, traffic, animals, crime, public health), Environmental protection, Economic development. Then WITHIN towns Connecticut has cities. Then within cities you have boroughs.

What I am suggesting is that we go further away from the Connecticut system. Simplify things, not complicate. Georgia would still only have cities and counties, but counties would have less power and cover a regional area.
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Old 08-28-2013, 09:28 AM
 
Location: Georgia native in McKinney, TX
8,057 posts, read 12,906,382 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsvh View Post
Not suggesting school systems be merged. They would be handled locally. You would have more control over your area, not less.



Connecticut is an example of why too much governmental complexity causes problems. Not too little. The old counties still remain for purposes of the state marshals. Then the state also has regional administrative districts that handle zoning and legislative issues. Then you have "towns" that function a lot like our counties do and have Home Rule, Corporate powers, Eminent domain, Ability to levy taxes, Public services (low cost housing, waste disposal, fire, police, ambulance, street lighting), Public works (highways, sewers, cemeteries, parking lots, etc.), Regulatory powers (building codes, traffic, animals, crime, public health), Environmental protection, Economic development. Then WITHIN towns Connecticut has cities. Then within cities you have boroughs.

What I am suggesting is that we go further away from the Connecticut system. Simplify things, not complicate. Georgia would still only have cities and counties, but counties would have less power and cover a regional area.
I have waxed (maybe not so eloquently, but frequently) on this site about the absurdity of Georgia counties (in metro areas primarily) acting like cities. Counties should not be providing sewer, water, police, sidewalks, etc, etc. If an area is that built up that it needs these services, then it should incorporate and be a city.

I say let all of metro Atlanta be in an incorporated city and let the counties get back to basic county business: Courts and schools... and not much else.
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Old 08-28-2013, 10:28 AM
 
10,974 posts, read 10,913,016 times
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Originally Posted by Saintmarks View Post
I say let all of metro Atlanta be in an incorporated city and let the counties get back to basic county business: Courts and schools... and not much else.
Yea. I would would even say that there should be a way for cities to take over schools too, if they choose. The concept that counties keep general funds and give away "grants" and the like to whatever they choose is silly.

I think this is something that should be able to be changed at the state level. Limit county powers. Give voters an option to unify counties. Both Fulton and DeKalb are terrible right now. They would be a great starting point. Then if it is shown to allow more local control, provide better services, and lower taxes it will probably spread to other counties.

Last edited by jsvh; 08-28-2013 at 10:48 AM..
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