Falling chips – New cities waiting for the OK
March 3 was crossover day at the state legislature, and bills that haven’t passed at least one chamber of the General Assembly are usually considered dead.
People pushing for a new city of Tucker and Briarcliff say that isn’t necessarily the case for their bills, however. House Governmental Affairs Committee Committee Chairwoman Amy Carter said that crossover day would not apply to the cityhood bills.
So far, Lakeside is the only new city that has passed the legislature.It was approved by the state Senate last week. The boundaries of the maps for the three cities overlap, meaning that if one city makes it to the ballot and succeeds it could make it more difficult for the other cities to form.
Mary Kay Woodworth, chairwoman of the Lakeside City Alliance, said there would be hearings on the cityhood bills in the next few days.
Woodworth said her group feels confident that Lakeside can win approval from the House.
“We’ve already got a bill passed and we are very confident when this plays out over the next week that our effort would move forward,” she said.
If the Lakeside bill is approved and signed by the governor, could be on the ballot May 20. That may seem like a short turnaround, but Woodworth said there’s already been a great deal of community discussion about the idea for more than a year.
“What we have learned from the other cities that had a vote (to incorporate) in November to be able to open on Jan. 1, that does not give you enough time to get your city set up,” she said. “Voting in May, if it passes, the governor’s commission will be assigned to work with the new city, elections would be in November we’d be ready to open the door in January.”
Don Broussard, with the City of Briarcliff Initiative, said his group continues to ask for a meeting with Tucker 2014 about resolving their differences, but Tucker has declined.
“I think if you and I are betting men, we’d bet on Lakeside getting out,” Broussard said. “I think (Lakeside) quoted in their email, it had 89 percent chance of passage. That’s like saying Auburn had an 89 percent chance of winning the national championship. You can’t predict that stuff. It’s not predictable. They won’t have a smooth ride through the House Government Affairs Committee. That’s where their bill goes.”
Sonja Szubski, President of Tucker 2014, said her group has met with Briarcliff organizers several times. She said even though the cities are all fighting to get control of the Northlake Mall area, which will provide much-needed tax money to fund a new city, there is still a way for all the cities to move forward.
“You know the Tucker community feels that everybody wants a piece of Tucker,” she said. “I think the governmental affairs committee will see that Tucker can incorporate without impeding any other cityhood movement. That’s not going to stop anybody else.”