Commissioners table SPLOST vote, say they are waiting for Dalton City Council to approve agreement

Matt Hamilton/Daily Citizen-News

A proposed four-year, $66 million Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) would include funding 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.

Members of the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners say they still plan to vote on a resolution to place a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) on the May general primary ballot by the end of January.

But on Monday, commissioners voted 4-0 to postpone that vote as well as a vote on an intergovernmental agreement with the cities of Dalton, Cohutta, Tunnel Hill and Varnell that would determine how the proposed four-year, $66 million SPLOST would be spent.

Board Chairman Lynn Laughter typically votes only to break ties.

"We can't vote until the city of Dalton signs off on this agreement," said Laughter.

Members of the Dalton City Council tabled a vote on the intergovernmental agreement last week, saying they needed more time to study the agreement and also to see what impact 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.

That mediation session, which was held last Tuesday at the Dalton Convention Center, ended without an agreement on the service delivery agreement.

"The City Council meets next week," said Commissioner Harold Brooker. "We hope they will approve the agreement. We will have a called meeting to vote on (the SPLOST) later this month."

Laughter said commissioners need to get a SPLOST resolution to the Whitfield County election office by the end of the month to have it on the May ballot.

The proposed intergovernmental agreement follows closely the recommendations of a citizens advisory committee formed last year to suggest projects.

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; and 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.

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.

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.

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