It appears a proposal for a unified government of Cumming-Forsyth County will not be sent to lawmakers this year.
At a work session on Tuesday, the Forsyth County Commissioners voted 4-0, with District 1 Commissioner Pete Amos absent, to table a proposed resolution asking Forsyth County’s legislative delegation to look at combining the two governments for a single, consolidated municipality.
Commission Chairman Todd Levent said he didn’t think the proposal was “going to move forward.”
Levent said there was a recent meeting between county and city officials and members of the state delegation to discuss consolidation and the possible impact of the proposed city of Sharon Springs in south Forsyth on both governments.
“We all learned something that day,” Levent said. “I think we all learned that if Sharon Springs happens, consolidation [with] the city of Cumming can still happen [but] it will be very, very difficult at that time.”
Two weeks ago, consolidation was brought up at a commission work session, though the city of Cumming appeared to have no interest.
At the time, Mayor Troy Brumbalow described the proposal as a “hostile takeover of the city of Cumming,” and Councilwoman Linda Ledbetter called it a “slap in the face.”
On Wednesday, Brumbalow said he did not think city voters were in favor of consolidation.
“[Tabling talks of consolidation] is kind of what I thought was the wisest thing,” he said. “They realized that the residents of the citizens of Cumming would not vote to be consolidated with the county. They’re pleased with the government that they have in place.”
Levent previously said he was in favor of consolidation to save taxpayers money in the long run by joining departments operated by both governments and could eliminate legal fees accrued when trying to reach agreements between the two.
The potential city of Sharon Springs was also factored into the county’s discussion, with those in support feeling that there would never be another chance at consolidation if the city is approved.
Sharon Springs is currently being considered by the Georgia General Assembly and would have to be signed by the governor and approved by voters living in the area by at least 57.5 percent.
Had commissioners approved the request for consolidation, the local delegation would have had to draft and pass a bill that would be signed by the governor and approved by local voters.
At the Tuesday commission meeting, Levent and District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills said if Sharon Springs becomes a reality, the city could have to introduce a property tax or get rid of its police or parks and recreation department and would affect the city’s ability to negotiate for special taxes, such as SPLOST and LOST.
Brumbalow said adding a city property tax “was not an option” and said there were still many unknowns with the potential new city.
“As far as negotiations, nobody can say what it would lead to,” Brumbalow said. “We know what state law is, but there are a lot of things that have to happen before that point. I don’t want to speculate on what the future is unless the city of Sharon Springs becomes a reality.”
On Tuesday, Levent said the parties left the meeting with city and state officials deciding to wait to see what happens with Sharon Springs, but said the issue of consolidation could come up again.
“We all left there and just kind of want to see how things roll out with the Sharon Springs city, whether it becomes reality or not,” Levent said. “With that being said, if they do have to do that kind of tax on their citizens … they may be coming to us asking for some kind of a consolidation so they don’t get hit with this harder tax.”