Report looks at ‘policy concerns’ facing Atlanta’s Buckhead community

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(The Center Square) — The upscale Atlanta community of Buckhead garners headlines, whether it’s a discussion about crime or the failed cityhood movement.

Now, a new Georgia Public Policy Foundation report explores the key issues facing the community: Public safety, zoning, taxation and infrastructure.

While the group explored the issues that led to the as-yet-unrealized cityhood movement, the group did not take a position.

“This study is born from a high-profile political fight,” J. Thomas Perdue, a GPPF policy analyst, told The Center Square. “That’s not what it’s about, but that’s why we’re talking about these things. Buckhead is the center of a lot of wealth and influence in Atlanta.”

In March, the Georgia Senate rejected a move to de-annex the Buckhead community from Atlanta and create Buckhead City. A similar measure failed last year.

“Although these efforts were voted down in the Senate, history shows that legislative defeat does not necessarily spell the end of this debate,” according to the report’s executive summary. “Furthermore, even if Buckhead neighborhoods do not achieve cityhood, residents would still face many of the problems identified during the incorporation effort.”

A January 2021 report prepared for the Buckhead Coalition found that the greater Buckhead region generated roughly $1.6 billion in total revenues, including from taxes. That money went to the state ($764 million), Atlanta Public Schools ($332 million), the city ($252 million) and Fulton County ($156 million).

Turning Buckhead into an independent city picked up steam in the past few years, with some residents expressing worries about public safety and other issues. In the wake of the unsuccessful cityhood movement, local and state officials have stepped up their focus on Buckhead.

Georgia taxpayers will pay $1.3 million to build a new Georgia State Patrol post on the grounds of the Governor’s Mansion in Buckhead. State lawmakers included funding for the post, which officials say should help make Buckhead safer.

“There are a lot of cases to be made that Buckhead needs to stay in the city of Atlanta; there’s an argument to be made that Buckhead in itself is worse off outside of Atlanta,” Perdue said. “There are far fewer arguments to be made that Atlanta is better off without Buckhead in it — it’s a tourism center, it’s a business center, it’s a banking center.

“I don’t want to say something as dramatic as it would be cutting out the heart of Atlanta, but it would be cutting out an internal organ that it needs to survive.”

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