A study conducted to determine whether creating a new city in east Cobb would be feasible has concluded that the city could support itself financially.
In fact, the study shows that the city could run a multi-million dollar surplus in its first year without raising property taxes, according to the study.
The proposed city would span about 40 square miles and would have a population of about 96,858, which is similar to Roswell (population 94,786) and Johns Creek (population 84,350).
This would make it the largest city in Cobb both by population and land area. Marietta currently leads in both categories with a population of 61,048, according to 2017 Census data, and area of about 23 square miles.
The new city’s per capita income would be about $46,650 and its median home value would be $314,000, according to the study. Again, this would place it ahead of Cobb’s six other cities. Smyrna currently leads in per capita income with about $41,870 — countywide, that figure is $36,587, Census data shows. The Jonquil City also leads in median owner-occupied housing unit value with $248,600, while countywide values are $219,700, according to the Census.
The city of East Cobb would be home to about 33,590 households and 3,345 businesses.
The study assumes that the city would levy a millage rate of 2.96 mills, the same amount the county levies on homes that use Cobb’s fire department.
Because the study assumes the city of East Cobb would start its own fire department, it would be exempt from the county’s fire fund tax and could raise its millage rate the same amount, resulting in no net property tax increase for homeowners.
Based on these assumptions, the study estimates that the city could raise $48.43 million in revenue and would spend about $45.62 million, a surplus of about $2.81 million. Much of the revenue would come from property taxes, about $22.5 million.
Other revenue sources include insurance premium taxes (about $4.56 million), electricity franchise fees (about $4.92 million), general business licenses ($2.81 million) and revenue from a new municipal court (about $2.74 million).
The study assumes that the city would establish its own police force with about 142 officers, which would cost about $13.17 million annually. The study estimates that the city would employ about 35 people, not including police and fire department employees.
The city’s proposed government would be made up of an elected mayor and six-member city council and an appointed city manager.
Much of the new city’s expenses would go toward public safety ($20.58 million). Other expenditures include $12.68 million for city administration and about $8.6 million in startup costs.
The $36,000 study was paid for by the Committee for Cityhood in East Cobb and conducted by the Center for State and Local Finance at Georgia State University. According to a press release accompanying the study's release, the GSU center used similar methodology in a feasibility study it conducted for Tucker, which incorporated as a city in 2015.
The center was contacted to develop the study by state Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-east Cobb, according to the study’s executive summary. To become a new city, legislation would need to be passed to call for a referendum among voters within the proposed city’s boundaries, Joe Gavalis, president of the Committee for Cityhood in East Cobb, said in a statement provided with the study.