A proposed city of East Cobb is expected to cross an important threshold at the state capitol this week.
A Cobb lawmaker has announced his intention to file legislation for the creation the new city, but a possible referendum on what would be the county’s largest municipality is still a long way off.
“This is just the first step in a long process,” said Rep. Matt Dollar, R-Marietta.
The new city would be Cobb’s largest, comprised of about 40 square miles and 97,000 residents east of Marietta to the Fulton County line.
Dollar said he intends to submit his bill in the next week and any final vote by the legislature would not come until next year, meaning the earliest possible date for residents to vote would be 2020. The lawmaker said he supported the creation of a new city as long as it doesn’t result in higher taxes.
Backers of the cityhood movement tout a study from the Center for State and Local Finance at Georgia State University that found a new city is feasible without raising taxes, but some have expressed skepticism.
Linda Carver, president of the East Cobb Civic Association, said she still doesn’t know much about what’s driving the campaign for a new city.
“Most of our folks that I’ve heard from are just kind of going, ‘What is this really about? Why is this needed?” Carver said of the cityhood movement. “I think they’re looking for more information.”
So far, the organizers have not held any public forums to discuss the new city or divulged the membership and funding of the group, which has hired a public relations consultant and a lobbyist.
There’s been speculation, fueled by social media posts by the media consultant, conservative commentator Phil Kent, that the motivations may be at least partly partisan, with Republicans looking to carve out a stronghold as Cobb turns bluer with each election.
Rob Eble and David Birdwell, both businessmen from East Cobb and members of a newly-formed cityhood committee, said they wanted to create a stronger identity for East Cobb and give residents greater control over services.
“Our committee is made up of men and women with different views across the spectrum” when it comes to politics, Eble said. “I personally would not be involved in this if it was about anything other than doing our best to help this community.”
They said they intend to begin recruiting and holding public information sessions soon. Representatives of the cityhood movement also plan to speak at East Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott’s town hall meeting on March 28.
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