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Board approves Sharon Springs financial study



FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — In light of a revived campaign to form Sharon Springs as a full-service municipality, the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners voted Oct. 24 to proceed with an updated financial impact study.

The board approved the $40,000 fiscal analysis study performed by Georgia State University to use as they deem necessary, including sharing it with the Georgia House to be used in conjunction with legislation supporting the city’s incorporation, House Bill 626.

The final report should be back to the board in January with a draft in by mid-December.

The board will be able to provide feedback prior to the final report.

Commissioners debated whether the expense was worth it, but Chairman Todd Levent said this will show the board’s transparency and give voters the chance to fully understand the bill.

In March, House Bill 626, which sought to incorporate the city of Sharon Springs, was introduced in the Georgia House by District 25 State Rep. Todd Jones, who represents South Forsyth.

The bill would provide a charter, schedule a referendum and set effective dates.

If incorporated, Sharon Springs would cover 44 square miles, encompassing much of South Forsyth County south of Cumming to the Fulton County line.

This is the second study the county will do in relation to Sharon Springs.

In September 2015, the board approved a similar fiscal impact study for $35,000 by Georgia Tech. That study portrayed Sharon Springs as a city-light, with far fewer services than the current bill.

The House will not accept studies performed by Georgia Tech, the board said.

Alfie Meek, director for the Center for Economic Development Research at Georgia Tech, spoke to the board in January 2016 on the fiscal impact Sharon Springs would have on the county.

The study used 2014 financial data, the most recent year data was available, and examined the fiscal impact on the county had the proposed city existed in 2014.

An even earlier study was done on the city by the Sharon Springs Alliance. That study found the city to be finically viable.

Meek said that first study was more supportive of cityhood, but the two studies couldn’t be compared because they looked at two different areas.

A 12-member Sharon Springs Study Committee was formed earlier this year when Jones, the commissioners and other county officials selected representatives to study the issue. The panel met four times over the summer with a variety of municipal experts to discuss a variety of topics.

After a town hall held in August gave the public a chance to voice concerns and comments, Jones said the committee will take the comments and draft a recommendation to bring a referendum on the incorporation of Sharon Springs in May 2018.

In August, Jones said the reason he introduced the bill was to “rip the Band Aid off” and have finality about creating another city.

“We need to rally around one thing and who we are,” Jones said. “We are better together than we are apart.”

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