The Transportation Leadership Coalition supports regional communication and cooperation. We can all benefit from regional discussions on the issues that affect us the most. What we do not need is a State imposed layer of regional government bureaucracy.
Counties and Cities working together to solve problems is a good idea, but regional governance is both unaccountable and wasteful. A county choosing to work with other counties is meaningful. Home rule is an important piece of what makes Georgia special. Regional government bureaucracy destroys home rule.
The Georgia State Legislature has implemented a new form of governance known as regionalism over the past 5 years through two pieces of legislation.
HB1216 of 2008
Regional governance was first established when the Georgia General Assembly passed HB 1216 in 2008 which was subsequently signed into law by Governor Sonny Purdue. HB 1216 reorganized the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. It established 12 regions and created the governing structure for those who would serve on these regional councils. Each such agency and instrumentality shall be known as a regional commission and shall be designated, by name for all purposes, with such identifying words before the term ‘regional commission’ as the Board of Community Affairs may, from time to time in accordance with the provisions of subsection (f) of Code Section 50-8-4, choose and designate by official action.
“Each municipality and county in the state shall automatically be a member of the regional commission for the region which includes the municipality or county, as the case may be.” A mix of elected and appointed officials who will “function as the regional planning entity” for:
• Land Use
• Historic Preservation
From each county, the county commission chair and one mayor are in essence appointed by operation of this legislation. The other members of the regional commission or council are appointed “in fact” as follows: one school superintendent and two non-governmental appointees are selected by the governor; one non-governmental appointee is selected by the Lt. Governor; and one non-governmental appointee is selected by the Speaker of the House.
HB277 of 2010
Secondly, HB 277 Transportation Investment Act (TIA) was passed in 2010 and signed into law by Governor Sonny Purdue. The TIA expanded the reach of regional governance to include regional transportation projects paid for by a 1% local option sales tax or TSPLOST. The TIA was soundly defeated in 9 of 12 regions in July 2012. However, the legislation remains as part of Georgia Code and can be reintroduced again in two years for another vote. Here again, the members of this regional council, the county commission chair and one mayor from each county are appointed by operation of law. All the mayors in a county self-select among themselves which mayor will serve on the council. In addition, a 5-member citizens’ review panel is appointed by the Lt. Governor and the Speaker of the House for each region.
Regionalism now operates in Georgia through 12 special districts and a total of 36 regional councils managed by the Department of Community Affairs and the Georgia Department of Transportation which are also appointed agencies.
These regional councils control vast sums of money and have taxing, contract, hiring, eminent domain and buying/selling real estate authority. Did you know that your county commission chair and possibly your city mayor serve on these councils?