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Push for East Cobb city scrutinized in new legislative session

Conservative, affluent community members seek autonomy, but skeptics question why.

ATLANTA — A proposed city of East Cobb was the first bill to get a hearing in this year’s legislative session, which began Monday.  

East Cobb would be created among some of Cobb County’s more affluent neighborhoods, similar but not identical to the proposed Buckhead City in Atlanta.  

Some residents want East Cobb to become a municipality within Cobb County –  a city with about 60,000 residents, with its own police department and a six-member city council.

"It’s not a layer of government," contended state Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth), a cosponsor of the bill. "It’s a layer of government that’s providing services closer to the people. Not a layer on top." 

Setzler spoke to a House subcommittee, which gave the East Cobb bill the first hearing of the 2022 General Assembly session.

East Cobb is a largely conservative community within a county that has recently flipped to Democrats, election records show. The Cobb County Board of Commissioners now has a white minority, with two white women and three women of color.

Nobody in Wednesday's hearing mentioned that specifically but some said the county no longer has East Cobb's interests at heart.

"The big thing that I have seen, and scares me to death, is the direction the commissioners are taking the county," said Pamela Riordan, an East Cobb resident.  "They make no bones, and they do state that their goal is to urbanize our suburbs."

Yet critics of cityhood say they are suspicious of a new government entity where none exists now.

"What's in this for me besides more taxes?" Robert Hansen, an East Cobb resident asked. "Another question: who is really behind this, and what’s in it for them?" 

Supporters of cityhood say taxes would not go up, and that a feasibility study shows the city is viable with existing tax revenue.

"I’m opposed to this because I’m opposed to more government period," said Scott Killebrew, an East Cobb resident. "More government means more taxes. I don’t care what the feasibility study says. I think it’s flawed."

The cityhood movement has a long way to go. Backers want to get it passed at the state Capitol and then let East Cobb voters decide, perhaps later this year.