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Fulton County leader calls review of governance, services

Maggie Lee
Fulton County Commission Chairman Robb Pitts

By Maggie Lee

In a county where cities do a lot of the public work, the leader of Fulton is asking for help to figure out what services his government is best set to provide.

“The idea is: Why don’t we concentrate on our core services, identify those and be the best that we can be at those core services?” said Fulton County Commission Chairman Robb Pitts, explaining his just-announced Fulton County Task Force on Core Services and Governance.

There’s an overlapping patchwork of government service providers within Fulton County. For example, parks are run by cities, and so are police departments, though Fulton does still have some officers. Property tax bills come from the county — though part of the money will go to cities. Your water might come from Fulton County, or it might not, depending where you live.

So Pitts is asking a team to look at all of those services.

“Are there services that we provide that cities can do better? And the reverse question: are there services the cities provide that we can do better? That’s the conversation I want to have,” Pitts said.

He also wants to know if the number of seats on the county commission — seven right now — is correct.

The task force will look into these questions and report back early in the new year. One task force co-chair will be Kathryn Flowers, a real estate professional who is on the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority board. The other will be Jay Smith, a retired journalist and a onetime publisher of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Georgia law and the state Constitution require counties to do some basics. There’s got to be a sheriff and a jail. There have got to be courts, a public health office and property tax collection.

But Fulton does other things that aren’t strictly required. For example, county commissioners just OK’d a $30 million animal shelter, even though by law all the county has to do with dogs and cats is set up rabies controls.

And there’s also overlap between county and city services that sometimes cause friction. For example, the county has an economic development authority, as do some of the cities, including Atlanta.

Pitts wouldn’t be drawn out on what he thinks should change; he said he didn’t want to prejudice the process.

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Maggie Lee
Maggie Lee

Maggie Lee is a freelance reporter who's been covering Georgia and metro Atlanta government and politics since 2008.

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3 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Mazie Strickland December 7, 2019 10:04 am

    I live in the City of South Fulton and we have our own Police Department. Why am I paying Fulton County Police when they provide no service to me or my family. Turn over Fulton Industrial Blvd to either Atlanta, or the City of South Fulton or let them split it.Report

    Reply
    1. Avatar
      Harvey Davis III December 8, 2019 2:48 pm

      The Fulton County Police are paid for out of the Special Services District taxes in unincorporated Fulton County, not the general fund taxes that are paid to the county by residents of cities. You are not paying for Fulton Police if you live in a city.Report

      Reply
  2. Maggie Lee
    Maggie Lee December 9, 2019 9:32 am

    I think I should have been more clear on law enforcement — yes there are Fulton County Police whose jurisdiction is the unincorporated area. But separately, there’s the Sheriff’s Office which has countywide jurisdiction + officers at the jail & courthouse. Thanks for reading!Report

    Reply

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