Dalton City Council members are taking a more "thorough" approach to negotiating the city's next service delivery agreement with Whitfield County.
Council members voted 4-0 Monday to appoint attorneys from the McDonough law firm Smith, Welch, Webb & White as a special counsel to represent the city in those negotiations. The agreement between the city and Smith, Welch, Webb & White calls for the attorneys to be paid $225 to $300 an hour.
"The special counsel attorney will work directly with the city attorney (Gandi Vaughn), but the special counsel has extensive experience in evaluating local government service delivery agreements, and in negotiations," said City Administrator Jason Parker.
Mayor Dennis Mock and council member Denise Wood declined to discuss the decision, referring questions to Parker and Vaughn.
"We want to be thorough in our approach to the agreements," said Parker. "We refer to it as a service delivery agreement, but it's actually about 40 to 45 different agreements. It includes every local government service. So we have to agree who is providing which service and at which locations and who is paying the costs of those services. Sometimes in these discussions you can find out there's a better way to provide that service or to consolidate service delivery."
By state law, cities and counties must negotiate a new service delivery agreement every 10 years spelling out which services the different governments will provide and how they will be funded. The agreements are aimed at reducing duplication of services.
The current service delivery agreement between the city and county expires Oct. 31 and covers services ranging from fire protection to operations of the Dalton-Whitfield County Public Library to building permits.
Whitfield County Board of Commissioners Chairman Lynn Laughter said Monday afternoon she did not know the City Council planned to appoint a special counsel for the negotiations. Laughter attended the City Council's work session Monday night where the topic was discussed.
"At this time, commissioners do not plan to (appoint a special counsel)," she said. "But that could change."
Parker says council members want to make sure the negotiations result in an agreement that is fair to city taxpayers and "accurately reflects what services are provided by each local government entity, where those services are provided and accurately reflects who is paying for each service."
Andrew J. "Andy" Welch, one of the attorneys the city has appointed as a special counsel, is a former member of the Georgia House of Representatives.
Council members also voted 4-0 to:
• Eliminate glass from the city's curbside recycling program effective Oct. 1.
In a memo to council members, Public Works Director Benny Dunn said a number of cities have already eliminated glass from their recycling programs, including Canton, Douglasville, Gainesville, Kennesaw, LaGrange, Marietta and Rome and Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Dunn cited safety reasons, saying that employees have cut their hands badly on broken glass. He also cited economic reasons for the move, saying glass recycling is just "break even" financially for the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority and the alcohol, soda and other contents of glass containers tend to erode the compartment on recycling trucks the glass is placed in.
City residents will still be able to recycle glass by bringing the material to any of the four Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority convenience centers. There is no charged to drop off items for recycling. The closest location for most city residents is the M.L. King Convenience Center located just outside city limits at 1924 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.
Wood said she had "a few people" call her to express concern.
"Glass recycling is break even for the landfill," she said. "I don't think it's even break even for the city by the time we have to pick it up and transport it."
• Approve a $585.535 contract with Massana Construction of Tyrone for repair of the bridge on Chattanooga Avenue over Mill Creek. The work will be funded from the 2015 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST).
• Approve a $1.5 million contract with C.W. Matthews Contracting of Marietta for milling and resurfacing all or part of 25 city streets totaling about 6.2 miles. The work will be funded from the 2015 SPLOST and from Georgia Department of Transportation local maintenance and improvement grant money.
• Approve an amendment to the 2019 budget that, among other things, includes about $234,000 for the cost of the repair to the roof of City Hall.
• Tabled a request by Crutchfield Properties to rezone 1.91 acres on Conway Street to rural residential from light manufacturing and a request by Greg Sims and John Forshner to rezone three acres near Lance Street and Richardson Street to rural residential from high-density residential. In both cases, council members said they wanted more information on the impact on traffic and parking the projects would have.
• Reappoint Austin King to a five-year term on the Board of Zoning Appeals.
• In public comments, Forrest Starks asked when the city will be making promised improvements to New Doris Street.
Assistant Public Works Director Andrew Parker says the city will be replacing the open ditches alongside the road with curb and gutter this fall. He said the work has been planned for some time but the Public Works Department has been focused on other projects such as the repairs to Botany Woods Drive.