The proposal to carve out land taken from the existing city of Stockbridge to create a new, more affluent municipality is probably the most controversial bill on Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk. And the Republican is not hinting where he stands on it after meeting with both sides.
The governor on Tuesday sat down with the mayor of Stockbridge – who staunchly opposes the effort to cannibalize his city – as well as Eagles Landing advocates. His office said the meeting went smoothly, though Deal wouldn’t reveal where he stood.
“I haven’t made a final decision on it yet,” the governor said. “I’m not leaning either way, and I’m giving everybody a chance to give me a chance to tell me everything I don’t know. Which is quite a bit.”
The Legislature has cleared the way for more than a dozen cities since Republicans won control of state government in the early 2000s. But this effort would set a precedent by gutting an existing city and using it as a staging ground for a new one.
Stockbridge officials have threatened litigation over the move, which would remove 9,000 of their 28,000 residents and take half the city’s revenue, according to a report from the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute.
Eagles Landing supporters say their call is about demanding local control and more efficient government. They hope piecing together a more affluent city will also help attract higher-end retail and amenities.
The topic came up last week during a meeting in New York between Deal and analysts who will decide whether Georgia retains its AAA bond rating, since carving the city could effect more than $10 million worth of Stockbridge bonds.
“But the impact is not really on the state bonding rating, because those aren’t state bonds,” Deal added.