Local officials, others sound off regarding Sharon Springs Committee findings

A new city could be coming to south Forsyth, and local officials and group leaders on both sides have some very strong opinions on the issue.

Following the Sharon Springs Committee’s recent recommendation to move forward with legislation allowing voters to approve or deny cityhood — if the bill passes the Georgia General Assembly and gets signed by the governor — government officials and local group leaders sounded off on the matter.

Phillip Barlag, with the Sharon Springs Alliance, which has supported cityhood, said he agreed that voters living in the area should have the chance to give their voice on the city and was thankful for the members of the committee looking into the issue.

“We’re pleased that they have recommended the process be moved forward; we think they added a lot of really interesting perspectives,” Barlag said. “I think healthy debate always brings out new ways of looking at things and I think they did a really great job of being open-minded, objective [and] debating the issues from all sides.”

Forsyth County Commission Chairman Todd Levent had myriad issues with the proposed city. Among those, Levent said: the likelihood that the city will grow, leading to increased costs; the potential economic impact on those living in other parts of the county who won’t be able to vote either way on cityhood; and the assumption the county would continue road projects in the new city. 

“[My thoughts] are based on my seven and a half years as a commissioner, the knowledge I have gathered as a commissioner for what things actually cost, the reality of getting things done …  and there is no way this isn’t going to be an increase in taxes for the people in the city and those that live outside the city,” Levent said.

District 2 Commissioner-elect Dennis Brown, who will still represent residents in the area if the city is approved, said on Wednesday he had not yet been able to review the findings. 

“I appreciate Rep. Jones and his committee’s work,” he said. “I have not had time to review everything, but I look forward to reviewing the results and getting smarter on the issue. As we move forward, I look forward to hearing from residents and potential residents regarding the new proposed city.”

The approximate boundaries of the proposed city are east of Ga. 400, south of Hwy. 20, west of the Chattahoochee River — already a boundary with Gwinnett County — and north of the Fulton County line.

If approved, Sharon Springs would begin with three services— zoning, sanitation and code enforcement— and will have a millage rate capped at .5 mills. One mill equals $1 for every $1,000 in assessed property value, which is 40 percent of the actual market value.

If the bill passes the Georgia General Assembly and gets the governor’s signature, a referendum could be held in May.