Study shows proposed city of Mableton is financially feasible

Aerial photo shows Mableton Square. This $2.2 million project rerouted Church Street around a football field-sized green space. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Aerial photo shows Mableton Square. This $2.2 million project rerouted Church Street around a football field-sized green space. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

South Cobb residents who support making one of the region’s most populous unincorporated communities a new city just got some good news.

The Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia recently released its feasibility study for a proposed city of Mableton, and it shows the proposed city would be fiscally viable. According to the study, Mableton would generate $11.3 million in operating expenses and $14.6 million in revenue for a city of about 70,000 people.

The study area included areas east of Austell’s city limits to the eastern Cobb County border. The northern boundary runs along Hurt and Powder Springs roads to the west and Smyrna’s city limits to the east and includes all areas south of this border.

According to the study, the review was based on a conservative estimate of revenue collections and assumed the city would offer planning and zoning, parks and recreation, code enforcement and solid waste removal services.

The study also notes the proposed city of Mableton is not expected to levy a property tax, but residents would pay for the services through business licenses fees, alcohol beverage taxes, hotel/motel taxes, municipal court fines, building and other development permit fees, insurance premiums, franchise fees, motor vehicle taxes and parks and recreation fees.

Read the feasibility study here.

Leroy Hutchins, steering committee chairman of the South Cobb Alliance, which paid $28,000 for the study, said the results of the study wasn’t a surprise since many in the community believe Mableton would generate enough revenue to sustain itself.

“This is what we can do if we decide to come together as a community to do it,” Hutchins said of moving towards incorporation. Hutchins qualified to be the Democratic candidate for the Cobb County School Board seat held by David Morgan, who is not running for re-election.

The study is part of a two-year process needed to kick off the push for residents voting on a referendum to incorporate. Residents must also have a state legislator introduce a bill to incorporate an area and have a city’s proposed boundaries drawn up.

Hutchins said South Cobb Alliance conducted a survey asking if residents wanted to incorporate and what service they would like to see offered by the city. The majority of the 2,000 residents who responded were in favor of incorporating, Hutchins said.

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Mableton, the home of former Gov. Roy Barnes, was briefly incorporated in 1912, but was de-annexed and became part of unincorporated Cobb County in 1916. The push for incorporation has been revived in the last few years by residents who have expressed concerns about the quality of businesses that move into the community and the upkeep of commercial properties.

Advocates say Cobb County’s zoning codes are a one-size-fits-all set of rules and because Mableton was one of the first areas in the county to develop, a different set of codes is needed to address redevelopment in the community.

Galt Porter, Cobb Planning Commission chairman and another member of the Alliance, said incorporation would allow residents in Mableton to take control of issues like code enforcement and zoning. Porter added community residents are happy about the public safety services Cobb County provides in the area, so the proposed city would not take on the burden of providing police and fire protection.

“We looked to take on services the people were unhappy about,” he said.

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State Rep. Erica Thomas, who represents Mableton, filed House Bill 587 last year, which would incorporate the area. The legislation was referred to the House Governmental Affairs Committee. Thomas said the next step would be for Mableton residents to read up on the feasibility study and if they want incorporation, she would re-introduce the bill in 2021.

“We need to make sure that this is what the people want,” she said.

While the feasibility study provides a bright spot for Mableton, Hutchins said the work to educate the public about its options will continue throughout the year. South Cobb Alliance will host a series of virtual meetings so residents can provide input.

Hutchins added the process will allow Mableton residents to visualize the kind of community they desire.

“This is probably one of the biggest steps an area can take, so nothing is to be taken lightly,” he said.

For more information and to read the feasibility study, visit

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