DALTON, Ga. — The Whitfield County Board of Commissioners had planned to vote this coming Monday on an intergovernmental agreement that would spell out how a four-year, $66 million Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) would be spent.
But with the Dalton City Council tabling action on that agreement this past Monday, Board of Commissioners Chairman Lynn Laughter said commissioners probably won't vote on the matter.
"We can't vote until they sign off on it," she said. "We'll probably leave it on the agenda in case they sign it at the last minute, and table it if they don't."
Laughter said the agreement has to be approved by the end of January for commissioners to put a SPLOST referendum on the May general primary ballot as they have hoped to do.
"If we can't vote on it Monday, we will have to have a called meeting later in the month," she said.
Dalton City Council members tabled a vote, saying they needed more time to study the agreement and also to see what impact Tuesday's mediation with the county over the service delivery agreement, which spells out which services each government will provide and how they will be funded, might have on the SPLOST projects.
"We still need more time to study this agreement," said Mayor David Pennington. "None of us saw it until Monday, and Derek and I weren't sworn in until Monday night."
Pennington and Ward 1 council member Derek Waugh were elected in November and took office on Monday.
Pennington didn't give a timetable for how long the City Council might take but indicated he would rather place the referendum on the November general primary ballot than rush to make a decision.
"We are talking about almost $70 million in taxpayer money," he said. "I think it would be better to wait six months if that is what it takes than to approve something we still have questions about."
The proposed intergovernmental agreement follows closely the recommendations of a citizens advisory committee. Dalton would receive roughly $19 million, and among the projects that would fund are:
• $11.175 million for the Dalton Parks and Recreation Department for the construction of a new John Davis Recreation Center and development of soccer fields at Heritage Point Park.
• $2.612 million for the Dalton Fire Department for the purchase of a ladder truck and two pumper trucks.
• $2.531 million for the Dalton Public Works Department for bridges and the resurfacing of public roads and the purchase of equipment.
• $2.356 million for the replacement of patrol cars and a property and evidence building for the Dalton Police Department.
• $425,000 for renovations to the Dalton-Whitfield Senior Center.
The agreement would provide $6 million for repairs to the Whitfield County Courthouse, including a new roof, and $850,000 in security upgrades to the Whitfield County Jail, which are considered Tier 1 projects that are funded before local governments split the rest of the money.
In addition, the county would receive about $38.8 million for various projects, including:
• $13 million for a proposed Riverbend Park near Southeast Whitfield High School.
• $9.9 million for resurfacing roads and repairing bridges and culverts and new equipment for the Public Works Department.
• $4.942 million for sewer expansion to Cleveland Highway from about Beaverdale Road north to Frontier Trail; the area around the Carbondale interchange; the area around the Connector 3 interchange.
• $4.668 million to pay off the bonds issued to build Fire Station 12, as well as renovations to other fire stations and vehicle purchases for the fire department.
• $2.3 million for renovations at Westside Park, including two turf/soccer fields, and resurfacing of the Miracle Field, a special turf diamond for baseball for those with special needs; new vehicles for the sheriff’s office; and new engines for the fire department.
If the two sides cannot reach an agreement, commissioners could still place a SPLOST on the ballot. The Tier 1 projects would be funded first, and the rest of the money would be split among the county and the cities based on their share of the population.