Oct 8, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Atlanta's whitest neighborhood may secede

An interactive map depicting of the neighborhood of Buckhead splitting off from the city of Atlanta
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

They're calling it "Buckxit": The proposal by the affluent Atlanta neighborhood of Buckhead — an epicenter of urban luxury — to break off into a municipality known as Buckhead City.

Why it matters: The petition, now before the Georgia legislature, raises squirm-inducing issues of class, race and crime. Buckhead City, with 90,000 residents, would carve off a fifth of Atlanta's population and be about three-quarters white. (Atlanta itself is currently 51% Black.)

  • The secession "would strike at the power of Atlanta’s Black political class," per Bloomberg Businessweek.
  • "Today, a mostly Black cast of elected officials is in charge of the largest city in the South, which has one of the highest concentrations of Fortune 500 company headquarters in the nation."

Where it stands: While there are many "political hurdles" to jump (as Bloomberg Businessweek put it), the measure will probably be put to a vote next year, and the city could be established by June 2023.

  • Proponents cite rising crime as a big motive: “We are living in a war zone in Buckhead,” Bill White, CEO of the Buckhead City Committee, told Bloomberg Businessweek. "Shootings and killings, it just never ends.”

Opponents of "Buckxit" say the proposed municipality comes with a host of complexities about operating city services and schools, as Thomas Wheatley writes in one of our newest local newsletters, Axios Atlanta.

  • Questions include whether Buckhead City would be on the hook for things like bond debt and pensions, and how these might affect Atlanta in the future.
  • Losing the affluent swath of north Atlanta neighborhoods would cost City Hall as much as $116 million and Atlanta Public Schools $232 million in recurring tax revenue, according to a study by KB Advisory Group and paid for by the Buckhead Coalition, the north Atlanta business group opposed to cityhood.

What they're saying: White, the Buckxit leader, tells Axios the new city intends to honor its fair share of Atlanta's debt and pension obligations. And it would pay for police and most city services but would opt to contract water service and schools.

What's next: White says that on Jan. 1, cityhood boosters will give the legislature an as-of-now-unreleased start-up budget.

Read the Axios Altanta story

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