Richest Atlanta District Inches Closer to Seceding From City

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A move to create a new city out of the wealthiest and whitest areas in Atlanta got a little more traction this week, after being blocked by Georgia legislative leaders last year.

Two bills that would together allow the Buckhead district to secede from the city passed a Georgia Senate committee Monday and could be up for a floor vote as soon as Wednesday.

If approved by both legislative chambers and signed by Governor Brian Kemp, the measures would allow residents of the roughly 24-square-mile (62 square kilometers) Buckhead area to vote in November 2024 on whether to leave Atlanta and form their own city.

While the Buckhead City movement has a powerful backer in Burt Jones, the state’s lieutenant governor and State Senate president, the measures are expected to face resistance in the House.

Michael Smith, a spokesman for Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, said City Hall “will continue to work with the Senate to put an end to this legislation before it has disastrous consequences.”

Pushed by rural legislators and opposed by Atlanta’s elected officials and business community, the proposed new city would take with it nearly one-fifth of Atlanta’s population and an estimated 38% of its tax revenue. It could affect Atlanta’s credit rating, as well as ratings for cities across Georgia. Moody’s Investors Service said in October it maintained a Aa1 rating on the city’s approximately $650 million outstanding general obligation unlimited tax debt.