STOCKBRIDGE, Ga. - More than a hundred people lit candles and prayed outside Stockbridge City Hall Monday evening; they called on God to intervene in an argument dividing the community.
Lawmakers at the State Capitol continue to debate a proposal that would carve out a significant portion of the city of Stockbridge to create a new city of Eagles Landing. Stockbridge officials vehemently oppose the plan and said it will decimate the city's tax base, slashing it by fifty percent.
"I, along with the council, would have to impose a city tax on the citizens of Stockbridge who are left behind who do not pay a city tax right now and that would be devastating to them. It'd be devastating to us," said Mayor Anthony S. Ford. "That's the only way we would be able to survive."
People behind the push, however, said they support the creation of a new city because they believe it would give them better local control of their tax dollars.
"Here you are drawing from this huge tax base and nothing's coming back," explained Bill Herndon with the Eagles Landing Educational Research Committee. "So, once it's under the city of Eagles Landing, we would be able to do that and people will be able to pick that for themselves--what they want to do."
Representatives from the ELERC said they want to see the addition of libraries, senior centers, and parks, as well as an increased police presence.
State lawmakers would have to approve two separate bills and voters would have to approve the new city in a referendum before it could incorporate.
Opponents believe the creation of the city of Eagles Landing would have far-reaching effects. In recent years, lawmakers have created several new cities, but none of them included land in previously incorporated areas.
"There are cities all over the state that would be definitely affected by this," said Mayor Ford.