Residents to vote on Skidaway Island incorporation

CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - Skidaway Island residents will likely be voting this November on whether to incorporate their area of Chatham County.

Georgia lawmakers in both the Senate and House have passed the bill that aims to make Skidaway Island an official city. Right now, it's still a part of the unincorporated area.

Unlike the recent efforts by Georgia lawmakers to fund a study to look at consolidating the city of Savannah and Chatham County, some state lawmakers are looking to do just the opposite by making Skidaway Island an official city. Incorporation would impact more than 7,600 Chatham County residents who would have to elect a mayor and six council members. A city manager would also need to be hired to oversee all departments.

According to the proposed charter,  police and fire protection would likely remain the same because services would be contracted out with Chatham County Police Department and Chatham Emergency Services. Right now, these services are covered under the Special Services Tax District that's included on a homeowner's property tax bill along with county and school taxes.

With incorporation, that special services district would be replaced with a City of Skidaway Island millage rate. Sometimes, creating a new city can equate to residents paying higher taxes, but according to the City of Skidaway charter, residents could pay slightly less.

WTOC crunched the tax numbers on a $400,000 home with 3,600 square feet. Without homestead exemptions, this homeowner is projected to save about $181 a year on their total tax bill including county, school, and what would be the new city millage rate. What remains to be seen are all of the additional costs, fees, and potential taxes that could be imposed after-the-fact by new city leaders, should voters decide to incorporate the City of Skidaway Island.

The governor will have 40 days to sign or veto the bill, or it automatically becomes law, giving the residents of Skidaway Island the opportunity to vote on the incorporation of the island.

Voting for all Skidaway Island registered voters would be on Nov. 6. If it passes, a special election for mayor and city council seats will be held in March of 2019. The official transition period will begin July of 2019 and is expected to take two years.

For more information about the bill and incorporation of Skidaway Island, visit the Georgia General Assembly and the Incorporation of Skidaway Island.

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