The Georgia Senate voted Thursday on Senate Bill 333, allowing the creation of a new city called Mulberry to be placed on the ballot in Gwinnett County. The bill passed despite pushback from other Gwinnett senators.
The bill will allow voters living within the proposed city to decide on creating Mulberry during the May 21 primary. The municipality would be the second largest and most affluent city in Gwinnett County.
Supporters say the new city will be able to control development, claiming it will lessen traffic and prevent crowded schools. But Gwinnett County Sen. Nikki Merritt says residents haven’t been given the chance to fully understand the impacts yet.
“There may be potential adverse effects on the county’s economy,” Merritt said. “Again, we don’t know. County hasn’t had adequate time to do their own feasibility study and a rush-through proposal like this will affect all residents, not just the residents in the area affected.”
Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners report the city would cause a $9.1 million annual loss of revenue for the county requiring tax and service fee raises.
Sen. Clint Dixon, who is sponsoring the bill, said the revenue loss wouldn’t have a major impact.
“Some of that $9 million would be paid back to Gwinnett County,” he said. “But then if you also look at Gwinnett County, overall budget is $2.5 billion. So when you’re talking about $2.5 billion, you’re talking about $9 million. That’s only just less than 1%. It’s like 0.34% of the total budget of Gwinnett County.”
In a fact sheet, the Gwinnett Board of Commissioners also states the timeline for this legislation has been much shorter than the usual 2-year period. SB 333 creating Mulberry will move the effort from the first feasibility study to the ballot in less than six months.
The board of commissioners said residents should have more time to consider the changes.
“Given the potential significance of this legislation, Gwinnett and its impacted residents should be afforded the opportunity to complete its own impact study to better inform members of the General Assembly and the public concerning the significant financial impact to Gwinnett residents.”
Gwinnett County currently has 16 cities, but the majority of the population lives in unincorporated areas.
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