Gov. Kemp signs Mableton cityhood bill, sending another decision to Cobb voters

021722 Mableton:  The historic Mable House, ancestral home of the Mable family for whom Mableton was named, is seen on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022, in Mableton.   “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

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021722 Mableton: The historic Mable House, ancestral home of the Mable family for whom Mableton was named, is seen on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022, in Mableton. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Gov. Brian Kemp earlier this month signed into law a bill that will ask South Cobb voters in November whether to incorporate the city of Mableton.

The measure will be the fourth cityhood movement to go before Cobb County voters this year, with three other referendums set for the May 24 primary election.

Sponsored by state Rep. Erica Thomas (D-Austell), the Mableton cityhood effort was the only one to receive unanimous support from the state Senate, and a near-unanimous vote from the Georgia House of Representatives, with just two lawmakers opposed.

Cityhood leaders plan for the city to be limited in scope, overseeing planning and zoning, code enforcement and parks. The city will also provide trash collection, a service the county government doesn’t offer residents.

If approved, residents would continue to receive other services such as public safety from the county.

ExploreIn Mableton, a Cobb cityhood movement with none of the partisan rancor

Like other cityhood movements, supporters say they don’t feel like they have a sufficient voice in policymaking at the county level. A Mableton city council would have one representative for every 13,000 residents, rather than one county district commissioner per 191,000 people.

But in many ways, Mableton is unique among the four proposed Cobb cities.

The proposed cities of Lost Mountain, East Cobb and Vinings are whiter and wealthier than the county at large. Mableton is majority African American, with a median household income of $60,000 and a poverty rate north of 13%, four percentage points higher than the county as a whole.

Mableton has been a city before. It was briefly incorporated in 1912, but its government only lasted five years. Flooding in the summer of 1916 overwhelmed the town’s sewage system, leading residents to forfeit their charter in exchange for the county replacing their sewer pipes.

The new city’s boundaries would extend beyond the historic community core, covering most of South Cobb between Powder Springs and Austell to the west, Smyrna to the east and just past the East-West Connector in the north.

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A feasibility study projects the city would have a $3 million budget surplus without levying a city property tax.

However, these studies don’t consider the effects on the county as a whole. Cobb finance officials estimate a city of Mableton would divert $10.8 million in fees, hotel taxes and other revenue sources from the county government, while the county would see minimal savings on expenses.

The Mableton vote will be held Nov. 8 during the general election.