ATLANTA -- As many as 500 people crowded a Sandy Springs senior center this weekend in an effort to convince local lawmakers to push for the Atlanta suburb's incorporation.
Colorful balloons hailing Sandy Springs as "Georgia's next great city" decorated the room, as residents argued that they're being oppressed by Atlanta-based lawmakers who are more concerned about financial losses the city would incur if it had to share sales tax revenues with another municipality.
"It's hard to believe I live in America, and I don't have the right to vote," Karen Meinzen McEnerny said.
Residents hope Republican gains in the Legislature will help their effort, after 25 years of frustrated attempts at incorporation.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Tom Price of Roswell is sponsoring the Senate bills and promised quick consideration, although the Democrat-controlled House may be a tougher fight.
The State and Local Government Operations Committee, which held Saturday's hearing, has already endorsed two of Price's bills, which deal with incorporation statewide. The third bill, which applies specifically to Sandy Springs and would be decided by the Fulton County delegation, will be referred after a second hearing next week in Atlanta.
Incorporation leader Eva Galambos said Saturday's large turnout reflects the amount of support in the community.
"I think you can tell that there's a groundswell, that support for this referendum grows year after year after year," she said.
Only one person spoke out against the incorporation, voicing the concerns of a few people who live near the Atlanta city limits and don't want to be part of Sandy Springs.
"I see this as an added layer of government," Robert Crow said, adding that he feared it would lead to a tax increase.
Incorporation advocates have said the new city would be able to offer better services without raising taxes, but those numbers are based on a University of Georgia study conducted several years ago.