Dec 1, 2022 - News

Mableton preps for next steps as some push to leave new city

Animated illustration of a lightbulb hovering over a city block.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Organizers for Cobb County's newest and largest city will soon take the next step in getting Mableton ready for business.

What's happening: Mableton leaders have to determine whether the city of about 77,000 people will manage government services itself or ship out some of those responsibilities.

  • Leaders could also see Mableton's boundaries change if some residents who want out of the new city get their way.

What they're saying: William Wilson, chair of the organization advocating for incorporation, said Gov. Brian Kemp will appoint a transition team to help community members organize a plan to guide newly elected city leaders on decisions that need to be made.

  • Once elected officials are in place, they will have two years to begin managing services outlined in the legislation enabling the referendum: solid waste removal, parks and recreation, zoning and code enforcement.
  • The county will continue providing services during the transition period.

Catch up quick: 53% of voters on Nov. 8 approved the question to incorporate.

  • The South Cobb city is east of Austell and Powder Springs, southwest of Smyrna and abuts the Chattahoochee River to the southeast.

What's happening: There are two areas Mableton leaders should focus on over the next several months: determining what their revenues will be and whether they should adopt the “Sandy Springs model,” Oliver Porter, who helped found Sandy Springs and touts privatization of services, told Axios.

  • Under this model, third parties provide services like parks and recreation, community development and public works. “You're getting it at a lower cost to the taxpayer and you're getting better service,” Porter said of privatization.

Of note: Sandy Springs has since brought nearly all of the outsourced services under its direct control.

Threat level: Despite the referendum passing, some residents are pushing to have their communities removed from Mableton's city limits. A petition is circulating to get the Georgia General Assembly to introduce legislation to allow for those areas to de-annex.

  • Christie Lynn, a resident who voted against incorporation, told Axios a lot of people who live in unincorporated Austell, Smyrna and Powder Springs were unaware they were included in Mableton's boundaries.
  • Lynn said questions were also raised earlier this year about why people who didn't live in Mableton were included in the referendum.
  • "From the beginning, the cityhood movement was framed as an issue of local control," she said. "If it's true, then we're hoping that we won't be ignored and that we don't want to be part of this.”

State Rep. David Wilkerson told Axios that legislation may drop during next year’s session that could add more requirements, such as getting signatures from residents, before more cityhood referendums can be placed on the ballot.

  • He also said he hopes state representatives and senators who represent residents who want to de-annex will "do what's best for their community."
  • “That would be my hope, that we continue to listen to what local people have to say,” he said.

Context: Mableton is the 11th city created in metro Atlanta since Sandy Springs started the cityhood movement. Johns Creek, Milton, Chattahoochee Hills, Dunwoody, Brookhaven, Peachtree Corners, Tucker, South Fulton and Stonecrest have since incorporated.


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