ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — “Buckhead City” is another step closer to becoming a reality, as organizers reach another milestone in their efforts to secede from the City of Atlanta.

The Buckhead City Committee announced State Senator Clint Dixon (R-District 45) is backing a bill that could lead Buckhead to cityhood. “We have one in the Senate, and we have one bill in the House. We expect a tough ride under the Golden Dome, but I have faith and courage in the leadership in both of those houses,” said Committee CEO Bill White.

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White says crime is driving the effort to separate from the city. “The thing that put us over the top was our murder rate and our shootings,” he said, pointing out police records showing Buckhead’s murder rate increased by 140% and shootings by 170% since 2019, which police have attributed in part to the pandemic. “[With] the murder rate, and the shootings and the carjackings and the waterboys and the street racing, no one can sleep at night,” he said. White says that’s on top of increased taxes and a decline in city services. “This is the culmination of a number of what I call crazy policies where Buckhead also feels we’ve been exploited for many, many, many years,” he said. He indicated Buckhead would better support and train police officers, who he said would still be able to work in Atlanta. “You have to love on your police. You have to support them. You have to pay them well,” said White.  He added, “There are bad apples, and we gotta get rid of them.” Atlanta police and city officials have laid out plans over the last several months to address violent crimes.

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White referenced a poll showing 70% of residents who responded want a separate city. He also said Buckhead would still retain certain city services if separated. Yet, White says Atlanta officials have said nothing. “You know what it tells me? They really don’t care about Buckhead. They just want our money,” he said. The City of Atlanta did not immediately respond to CW69’s request for comment. “Buckhead residents have finally said, ‘Enough is enough.’ So we filed for divorce,” said White.

Opponents like Committee for a United Atlanta agree with the issues, but not the divorce. “We are concerned about an attempt to tear the City of Atlanta apart. We believe a better solution is to focus on the upcoming city elections in which we would be electing new leadership,” said Edward Lindsey, the committee’s co-chair. He says it’s about pressing the candidates and considering all possible outcomes. “What kind of debt load is a new City of Buckhead going to have to take on,” he said, adding supporters also have not addressed what to do about education, where students would attend schools, and the potential economic impact on the region. Other critics have said a cityhood would also create a divide along racial lines, creating more issues.

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Buckhead has met several criteria on its path to achieving cityhood, which include forming a committee to declare its intentions of incorporating the community as a city and introducing a bill proposing cityhood to Georgia’s General Assembly. Voters living in Buckhead could ultimately decide on the outcome on the November 2022 ballot. The Buckhead City Committee is expected to release a feasibility study sometime in late September 2021.