District 56 State Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, said he believes one of the most important bills passed was House Bill 604.
“That says the county commission cannot raise taxes — the millage rate — without a two thirds majority,” he explained. “That ensures Fulton voters that it will take a super majority to any way impact their tax rate, which is a very good thing. … The people of Fulton County, north and south, have paid too many taxes for too long.”
Other Fulton County bills passed include changing the makeup of the board of elections and establishing new hires with the county as unclassified employees — with the exception of public safety workers — “so it will be consistent with the private marketplace,” Albers said.
The legislature also passed a new redistricting map for the county’s board of commissioners, which Roswell Mayor Jere Wood thinks will have the biggest impact for north Fulton.
H.B. 171 adds an extra commission seat in north Fulton and changes the makeup of the board so there will be six commissioners elected by district and one at-large, instead of five by district and two at-large. Having a new commissioner from north Fulton will benefit local residents, Wood said.
Milton Mayor Joe Lockwood added, “I certainly think it helps our area … anytime we have more representation.”
Having more representation in north Fulton is something that has needed to happen for a long time, said Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle.
“In terms of population and certainly in terms of revenue, we’re underrepresented,” he said.
Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker said though he welcomes future legislation to restructure Fulton County, if the reform bills from this session are properly implemented, it may stave off the need for the re-creation of Milton County.
“Once the governor signs the bills, the choice will be in the commission’s hands,” Bodker said. “They can either accept reality, which should have happened a long time ago, and embrace the reform — because everyone benefits — or they can continue to fight it, in which case Milton County will absolutely happen.”
Albers said Milton County is still necessary along with the reforms to Fulton County.
“A healthy Fulton County is important to the entire state of Georgia and is also important when we are one day Milton County,” he said.
Wood, Belle Isle and Lockwood agree there still remains a need for Milton County.