Despite officials’ assertions that the tiny northern Cherokee-Pickens city of Nelson is moving in the right direction, a group of residents is petitioning for the city’s government to be completely abolished and wants to secede their subdivision from the city.
Within the petitions circulating through Nelson, which sits half in Cherokee and half in Pickens County, residents are asked to show their support for doing away with the city’s government and to have the Laurel Lake subdivision de-annexed into Cherokee County, should the government not be abolished.
Nelson resident Marc Maseman, who lives in Laurel Lake, is one of
the residents helping with the movement.
“There are many reasons for the uprising,” said Maseman, who hopes residents could save money if Cherokee and Pickens counties took over operations of Nelson. “Among them are the total inefficiency, redundancy and non-necessity of a governing body such as the self-serving and self-fulfilling Nelson city government.”
Maseman contends the city’s operating budget is a “waste of taxpayer funds.”
“The buck should stop here,” he said.
Nelson City Councilman Jackie Jarrett, though, said the residents supporting the anti-Nelson-government movement are going about expressing their concern the wrong way.
“I don’t think they’re thinking straight,” Jarrett said. “A lot of people seem to be unhappy with the way things are going in our community. I can’t really see it going anywhere much, but I hate that the people are upset.”
Jarrett learned about the petition to do away with the city’s government when his next-door neighbor asked him to sign on. Jarrett declined.
“I didn’t think it’d hardly be appropriate with me being on the City Council,” he said.
Nelson councilman and acting Mayor Jonathan Bishop said that though the impact of Nelson’s government could be difficult to quantify in the town of about 1,300 residents, the people are better off not being moved under the umbrella of Cherokee and Pickens counties.
“If the city were to be dismantled, it would not really change anybody’s life in the city,” Bishop said. “(But) we keep a lot things running better than if we were in the county. We’d probably be neglected a little more (in the county).”
Bishop, who took office in May after the sudden resignation of Mike Haviland, added that many things in Nelson are going well.
“We made a $100,000 surplus this year, for the first time ever,” he said.
Jarrett said instead of petitioning for such a drastic measure, residents unhappy with the government should be more vocal to officials about what issues they have.
“I think people are just angry, and can’t get to City Hall to voice their opinion, where maybe we can straighten them out,” he said.
Jarrett said he’s tried to reason with the petitioners.
“I told them, I said, ‘The thing is, as long as you’ve got a charter, you can try to make (things) right, but if you give the charter up, you aren’t going to have no say-so about what goes on,’” he said.
Jarrett added that doing away with Nelson would be a complicated task, especially considering that the city is in two counties.
“My understanding from what our lawyer has been telling us is (what) they could do if they got enough signatures, would be to put it on the ballot for everybody to vote for, and then on top of that, Cherokee County and Pickens County would have to vote on letting us get back in to their counties,” Jarrett said.
Jarrett said the Georgia General Assembly would also have to vote to approve.
But Maseman said the movement is only getting started.
“Petitions will be circulating to the taxpayers and homeowners in the next few months to make them aware of exactly how they are being taken advantage of by unnecessary bureaucracy and wasteful spending. Perhaps the city government will listen to the taxpaying citizens and abolish themselves.”