‘Buckxit’: plan to split ritzy Buckhead from Atlanta faces expensive hurdles

A controversial plan to split Buckhead, an upscale district of Atlanta, from the Georgia city faces a number of expensive hurdles, according to those who oppose a move that has been come to be known as “Buckxit”.

A group of influential residents of Buckhead, backed by Republicans in the state senate, are attempting to make the affluent suburb its own city, separating it from Atlanta.

The move could be ratified by a public referendum next year, should a bill backed by a dozen Republicans – none of whom represent Buckhead or Atlanta – pass the state legislature.

Those who back city status for Buckhead claim it is needed due to a spike in crime and objections to tax rates.

“The residents of Buckhead believe we’re living in a war zone,” said Bill White, chairman of the Buckhead city committee, which is leading the effort to form a new city.

White has said the group has “filed for divorce and the divorce is final”, adding that Buckhead will form its own police force and “eradicate crime”.

Opponents of Buckxit have pointed out that the new city would face a number of financial burdens, such as a share of debts incurred by Atlanta to build infrastructure and pay pensions for city employees. Keisha Lance Bottoms, the mayor of Atlanta, has said the outstanding debt is around $880m.

The Buckhead Coalition, a group that opposes Buckxit and commissioned a study into the negative impacts of a split, has also warned that Atlanta would be significantly wounded if it lost its wealthy northern suburbs, with the public school system losing $232m in tax revenue.

There are also concerns that city status for Buckhead would stoke racial tensions between black Atlanta residents and those in the proposed new city, who are largely white.

“Carving up the city of Atlanta would be a race to the bottom,” said Billy Linville, a spokesman for the Buckhead Coalition. “Atlanta is known throughout the world as a city that comes together in times of need and that’s what we need to do today – come together, not split apart.”

White has said the Buckhead Coalition is “spewing lies and doomsday drivel” to prevent the split – remarks reminiscent of rhetoric used during Brexit, the departure of Britain from the European Union via a 2016 vote that has recently been blamed for helping cause shortages of food and fuel.

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