SPLOST committee delivers recommendations to City Council; will present recommendations to county commissioners next week

The chairman of a citizens advisory committee making recommendations for projects that could be funded by a proposed 2020 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) thanked officials with the City of Dalton on Monday for coming up with a good list of projects to be funded.

"When we went through the city's requests and started weeding them out, we found that a lot of the weeding had already been done," said Chris Shiflett.

Shiflett and other members of the committee delivered their recommendations to the City Council at the council's meeting Monday night.

The committee previously settled on a goal of having a SPLOST of no more than four years and collecting roughly $66 million during that time; the city's share of that based on its population should be approximately $19 million.

A SPLOST is a 1% tax on most goods sold in the county. The revenues can be used for certain types of projects but they can not be used for general operating expenses.

Shiflett said that in determining what projects to recommend, committee members decided they should be truly special, generally non-recurring expenses. A letter to the City Council said other considerations were does a project "benefit the majority of citizens" and would it be "acceptable to the majority of residents."

The committee recommended:

• $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 million for the Dalton Public Works Department for bridges and the resurfacing of public roads, and $531,000 for the purchase of equipment.

• $735,000 for the Dalton Police Department for the replacement of patrol cars, and $1.621 million for the construction of a property and evidence building.

• $425,000 for renovations and a bus for the Dalton-Whitfield Senior Center.

Council member Tyree Goodlett asked why the committee had not recommended the full request by the city for road resurfacing and bridges. The Public Works Department had asked for $600,000 for bridges and $4 million for resurfacing.

Shiflett said that some cuts had to be made to bring the total project cost to $19 million, and committee members believed road resurfacing is something that should be done from the city's operating budget.

"We saw the need was there, just as there was with the patrol cars," he said. "But going forward we hope these are items that will be funded from the operating budget."

Council members thanked the committee members for their efforts.

"We just got this list," said Mayor Dennis Mock after the meeting. "It looks like a good list. I'm sure as we study it and discuss it we'll probably tweak it a little. But I believe our final project list will be close to this."

The committee is scheduled to present its list of recommendations to the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners at the board's meeting on Monday at 6 p.m.

Commissioners will have the final say on what projects are placed on the SPLOST referendum, in consultation with the councils of Dalton, Cohutta, Tunnel Hill and Varnell.

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