WHITEMARSH ISLAND, GA (WTOC) - The islands are one step closer to becoming their very own city.
This includes Whitemarsh, Wilmington, Talahi, and Oatland islands.
Community leaders needed to raise $30,000 by April 1 for a feasibility study, and they accomplished that goal. These four islands will now send a check to the Carl Vinson Institute at the University of Georgia to complete the study.
The Islands Community Association says it will take approximately six to eight months to complete the study. State Representative Jesse Petrea attended Tuesday night's meeting after spending the past two months at the Atlanta capital for the 2018 Legislative Session. If the study shows the islands would profit from joining together as one city, a bill would be drafted that Representative Petrea would be required to sponsor. That said, he said it would be sponsored without taking sides.
"My job as your representative is to give you the ability to represent yourself if you choose to," Representative Petrea said.
After taking part in the largest tax cut in history in Georgia since 1935 this legislative session, Petrea says unless the incorporation of the islands would also reduce taxes. He will not be on board.
"If we go through all these other hoops and we move forward, I'm only gonna do it with a tax cut," Petrea said. "Because you should be able to cut taxes. Let's be honest."
However, he said the eagerness of the community so far has already won brownie points for his support.
"I can't go off willie-nillie passing bills. You know, we pass too many bills. I don't need to pass bills unless they're necessary, so I need to know if people really want something, and when you can raise your own money, that tells me you really want something," Petrea said.
The pros community leaders are looking at when it comes to incorporating is improved and increased public safety, better city services, and control of building and zoning issues, just to name a few. With that, being a city requires services like police and fire that they can contract out.
The goal is to have the study completed by October of 2018.