Residents are speaking up loudly about the Fulton County Board of Commissioners decision to establish a separate police department for one street, Fulton Industrial Boulevard.
During the creation of the City of South Fulton, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners originally stated it wanted to be out of municipal services. To assist with the transition from unincorporated south Fulton, the County originally entered into an inter-governmental agreement with the new City of South Fulton to provide police and fire services to the small remaining unincorporated area. The multimillion dollar agreement would have kept the structure of the Fulton County police and fire departments and created consistency for the residents and businesses in the area.
The Fulton County Commission has now instead created a small police department using Fulton County General Funds. The tiny strip of Fulton Industrial Boulevard did not incorporate with the City of South Fulton due to a constitutional amendment keeping the area from going into any city. Until the Georgia General Assembly passes legislation to lift the constitutional block, this area will remain unincorporated and in the control of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners.
What stands out is that the BOC did not make this decision for anyone’s benefit. The move uses tax payer dollars to unnecessarily duplicate efforts. The transitioning City of South Fulton police department and the newly reformed Fulton County Police department will both require separate administrative positions, assets, startup cost, as well as routine officers and investigators to police the small remaining unincorporated section of the county.
The residents of south Fulton are upset that Fulton County is attempting to poach the best police officers by offering a $3,000.00 signing bonus to officers who stay with the small department. Residents of the City of South Fulton hoped that all the police officers would transition. Any reduction of police staff creates holes the transitioning city must now fill. It is not just police officers, the issue also includes department assets such as vehicles, radios, and laptops. The assets purchased with south Fulton Special Service District tax dollars are now going back to the County leaving another budget surprise for the new city. Residents of the City of South Fulton are speaking up and organizing. See their press release here.
The residents of north Fulton are left wondering, why they are paying for a police department for a portion of the county they will never frequent. North Fulton residents have pushed to get the County out of city services like police, fire, and parks for this exact reason. If north Fulton will be saddled with the cost of the department, their input should have been requested. There is zero benefit to the north side of the County.
For both north and south, the move by the Fulton Board of Commissioners is an odd and unanticipated move that serves no purpose and does not come to the benefit of any citizen. The original inter-governmental agreement would have allowed City of South Fulton to continue to provide police and fire services to the area to create a seamless transition. The change from consistency to turmoil doesn’t make sense as it spends more money and makes everyone unhappy.