“Our state needs a township model where local citizens can vote to create a community and exercise zoning authority without taking on the services and tax burdens of a full city,” said Rep. Mike Dudgeon, R-Johns Creek.
A Senate task force that recently reviewed Georgia's process of forming cities recommended studying townships.
“I am pleased to introduce this legislation that will allow us the opportunity to explore the feasibility of this kind of incorporation on St. Simons Island,” said Sen. William Ligon, R-Brunswick.
The idea of creating townships has been gaining momentum after several legal opinions said that cities have the power to raise property taxes and expand services, even when their charters attempted to impose limitations.
Those legal concerns have led lawmakers to resist founding small "city lite" governments, such as those already created in Peachtree Corners and Tucker. Forsyth County's legislative delegation recently pulled its support for a city of Sharon Springs.
Voters would have to approve a referendum to amend the Georgia Constitution before townships could become a form of government in Georgia.
The Georgia Municipal Association, which advocates for cities, opposes the township proposals, saying communities seeking to incorporate should have the full benefits of cityhood.
Dudgeon and Ligon introduced House Bill 785, House Resolution 1051, Senate Bill 272 and Senate Resolution 724 to define townships and propose the referendum question.