Atlanta has fended off -- for now -- a push by a wealthy enclave to break off from the Georgia capital after opposition from the city, business community and school leaders alike.

Republican state leaders essentially nixed the idea of allowing residents in the district known as Buckhead, an upper-crust area home to about 20% of the city population, to vote on deannexation later this year. House Speaker David Ralston told reporters on Friday that the legislation wouldn’t be considered this session after Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, who leads the state senate, voiced opposition to it.

The collapse in support saves Atlanta from a potentially devastating blow to its finances, with one pro-cityhood estimate showing that losing Buckhead would cost the capital approximately 40% of its tax revenue. A split also would have essentially segregated the wealthy, White area from the mostly-Black city of Atlanta.

The effort ultimately couldn’t overcome logistical hurdles, such as failing to provide detailed plans for Buckhead’s students, a new police force, or its stated proposal to share the burden of repaying Atlanta’s outstanding debt. 

Still, the push went further than many thought possible, and proponents are indicating they’ll try again. The effort had been led by Bill White, a fundraiser for Donald Trump and chief executive officer of the Buckhead City Committee, who had seized on violent crime in the area to argue for creating a new city with better services. He couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.

“Common sense is prevailing,” said Michael Handelman, a Buckhead resident who co-founded a neighbors’ group that advocated against deannexation. He said that cityhood doesn’t offer a “rational” path to addressing public policy challenges facing Atlanta and other cities. 

“It’s the equivalent of burning your house down because you don’t like the kitchen sink,” he said.

The GOP leaders’ announcement will give Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, who took office in January, more time to address Buckhead residents’ concerns with crime and other issues. “They have given me and my administration the runway we need to take off, and we will continue in our work to move Atlanta forward,” he said in a statement on Friday.

Duncan raised the logistical concerns on Thursday in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

“What is the strategy to stem crime? What is the strategy to deal with Atlanta public schools in the city’s footprint? What are the finance ideas around the bond package?” he told the paper. “Those questions haven’t been answered.”

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