A Discussion on City Lite

This is a question that has been posed to me several times, most recently by the Peachtree Corners Ballot Commitee. Please see the question and my full answer below:

 

City officials now admit there is no such thing as a ‘city lite’ even though they sold that very idea to voters back in 2011. What do you think the city can/ should do to try and live up to the spirit of that idea?


According to Georgia law every city must provide a full set of services. A ‘city-lite’ must directly provide a minimum of 3 services with all other services provided by some government entity. Peachtree Corners directly provides only 3 services:

  1. Planning and Zoning
  2. Code Enforcement
  3. Solid Waste Management

The other services are provided by inter-governmental agreements (IGAs) with other government entities. The service of public works is provided by Johns Creek and the remaining services are provided by Gwinnett County. Peachtree Corners is ‘city-lite’ and directly provides services that allow the residents to have the greatest local control (planning and zoning) while keeping costs low by taking advantage of existing county services.

The detailed background for those interested: Georgia has only one type of city according to Georgia law. The law also allows a county to provide services like a city. Since Gwinnett County was (and is) providing services, such as zoning, planning, solid waste management, police, and fire, this created a conflict with all Gwinnett cities that also provide those services. A three year court case culminated with a decision in February 2012 followed by negotiations between the county and each city. The court decision resolved what could be used as income for the county versus a city. It also created Service Delivery Strategy (SDS) areas which allow cities to contract with the county to provide some of these services, such as police and fire, while receiving a reduction of the property tax millage rate for services provided directly by the city.

Feel free to Contact me if you have any other questions or comments about this!