HARLEM, GA (WFXG) - Columbia County Commissioner’s agreed to oppose House Bill 598. That bill, if it passes, will expand the size of the City of Harlem through annexation into parts of Columbia County.
Harlem’s City Council held a special meeting on Monday, April 8, and it was announced on the afternoon of April 7. At the meeting, community members had the chance to sign up and comment on the Harlem annexation. However, when the meeting was called to order, the room was empty. Council members added that nobody signed up to speak, so the council went into executive session to discuss other matters.
Mayor Roxanne Whitaker shared that the annexation is important because without it, she said the city will not be able to grow. She said growth is important because without it, she says the amount of money Harlem gets will not be enough for the city to pay for public safety and first responders.
Mayor Whitaker said she was surprised nobody showed up to the meeting, and said a lot of the comments and questions she’s gotten from community members are misunderstandings or incorrect. She said, “We’re not increasing anyone’s taxes 3 fold, that’s true. We’re not getting rid of any type of covenants that have on their property. We’re not prohibiting anyone from hunting on their land or raising chickens or whatever. This is just an initial effort to get water to the south side of I-20.”
The bill has gone through and been approved by the Georgia House and Senate. The next step is for Governor Kemp to sign off on it.
The Mayor finished out the city council meeting saying that many of the council members are going out of town this week, but you can find their contact information here and reach out to them if you have a comment or concern.