Concerns Mount Over Buckhead Plan To Separate From Atlanta, Establishing New Services And Taxes Not That Easy

Concerns Mount Over Buckhead Plan To Separate From Atlanta, Establishing New Services And Taxes Not That Easy


Buckhead is the uptown district of Atlanta, Georgia. Photo Credit: Sean Pavone Photo / istock

Atlanta’s wealthiest and whitest neighborhood has been in talks for years about seceding from the city. The movement to create Buckhead City is gaining traction with a continued uptick in crime in the area.

As a result, Atlanta officials are concerned about losing major numbers in population and tax revenue, according to The Wall Street Journal. While Atlanta is heavily represented by Democrats who oppose the secession, Georgia has a Republican majority in the state legislature, which is set to review the proposed legislation on Buckhead cityhood this month.

Bill White is the chairman and CEO of the Buckhead City movement. He has been extremely vocal about his support for secession and drew the ire of many on New Year’s Day when he quoted a tweet from VDARE, which is known for giving a platform to white nationalists.

White captioned the quoted tweet – which insinuated there was higher crime in Black neighborhoods – “Buckhead City NOW.” He has since apologized and deleted the tweet, saying his organization condemns “all forms of racism and racist talk.”

A screenshot of Bill White’s deleted New Year’s tweet.

He didn’t apologize, however, for being adamant about creating Buckhead City. “They really don’t care about Buckhead,” White told the WSJ about Atlanta’s leadership. “They just want the money.”

Atlanta’s recently elected Mayor Andre Dickens disagrees. He said city officials are taking steps to address the crime in Buckhead and have hit the ground running to find a solution to stem the crime.

“The most important issue for any mayor is to keep our cities safe and its residents safe and it is of paramount concern to me to stop this crime wave that we have in our city,” Dickens said during a press conference announcing a new Atlanta Police Department precinct coming to Buckhead.

“We anticipate at least a dozen officers to operate out of this space … at least by this summer,” Dickens said. “These officers will join the other beat officers already working to fight crime in this zone. … It is impossible to overstate just how important this new precinct in … so I’m 100 percent committed to keeping Atlanta safe for all of us. … We will be one city with one bright future.”

Dickens doubled down on his words in a Jan. 25 tweet. “One Atlanta has always and will always be the goal. I’m glad that Buckhead residents recognize how important it is for us to all work together to build a better, brighter Atlanta.”

A recent poll by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Jan. 24 shows some Buckhead residents share Dickens’ optimism, with 51 percent opposing the move.

City officials don’t deny crime has risen in Atlanta, as it has in most major cities during the coronavirus pandemic. However, those who oppose secession said Buckhead City is not the solution and may do more harm than good.

Jim Durrett is the president and CEO of the Buckhead Coalition, a group of residents that oppose secession. He said establishing services and taxes in a new city will not be as easy as White and other supporters may think. He is encouraged by the steps Dickens has taken thus far.

“I am a little bit worried today, but I am less worried than I was six months ago,” Durrett told WSJ. In an article published in December 2021, Durrett expressed his intention to continue working with Atlanta city leaders to keep Buckhead within the city.

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“With every passing day, more people are joining the effort to keep Buckhead a part of Atlanta, demonstrating a shared understanding that we are stronger together,” Durrett wrote. “I look forward to working with some of Atlanta’s most recognized leaders and its most passionate citizens to keep Buckhead and Atlanta unified.”

Republican state lawmakers Sen. Brandon Beach and Rep. Todd Jones are sponsoring the bill for Buckhead to secede and some believe the movement is racially motivated. White calls the accusations baseless.

“Buckhead City is about no particular race,” White said. “Buckhead City is about the human race and getting taxes down and crime under control.”

Twenty-three-year-old resident Sheldon Dennie, who works in online marketing, told WSJ he doesn’t think creating Buckhead city will yield the results White and his fellow secession supporters want.

“I don’t think Buckhead needs to be separate from Atlanta,” Dennie said. “Crime is still going to be here.”


Photo: Buckhead is the uptown district of Atlanta, Georgia. Sean Pavone Photo / iStock