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Sharon Springs seeks cityhood, again

Commissioners mull $45k financial study for second city

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FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — The creation of a second city in Forsyth County, Sharon Springs, has begun, again.

The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners is considering next steps in the process, including a possible financial impact study. The board has decided to wait until July to decide what’s next after hearing more recommendations.

In March, House Bill 626, which sought to incorporate the city of Sharon Springs, was introduced to the Georgia House of Representatives by District 25 State Rep. Todd Jones, whose district includes south Forsyth.

The bill would provide a charter, a referendum, prior ordinances and rules and set effective dates.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the bill is vastly different from the previous House Bill introduced in 2015.

The first iteration of Sharon Springs included the formation of a “city light” which includes only three services — solid waste, planning and zoning, and code enforcement. However, later that year, the bill’s sponsor, then-District 25 State Rep. Mike Dudgeon, said the delegation decided the bill was “unconstitutional.”

The new bill is a full-service city with all the powers authorized under the Georgia Constitution, Jarrard said, but the city doesn’t have to provide all the services.

“My hope is they do not try to limit their powers in their charter,” Jarrard said. “I hope if they’re going to create this city, the limitation would be in the millage cap, which right now is .5. It doesn’t matter what they attempt to do in the charter. They’ll have the authority or power of any city.”

Studies on the financial impact on the county of a “city-light” Sharon Springs were performed, but those studies would need revisions under the new legislation.

Jarrard said the question is whether the board wants a new study, which could cost roughly $45,000 and would show a variety of options from a city with few services to one with a robust municipality.

Commissioner Laura Semanson said it’s hasty to spend that much on the new study.

“I’m not trying to discredit anybody,” she said. “But at this point, until Rep. Jones’ committee comes back with their take on it, which is a county-wide sampling of folks, it’s premature at this point in time.”

Jarrard said the study could take up to four months and the vote on the bill would be in 2018.


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