Local governments, citizens and Dalton Utilities have proposed almost $100 million in projects to be funded by a planned 2020 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST).
Now, members of a citizens advisory committee that will make recommendations to the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners for projects to be funded by that SPLOST are paring down that list to try to have a final proposal to commissioners by the week of Dec. 2. That will give commissioners, who have the final decision, time to consult with officials in Dalton, Cohutta, Tunnel Hill and Varnell and place a referendum on the May 2020 general primary ballot.
"Next week, when we meet (County Administrator Mark Gibson) will sort of guide us through these projects, so we can get at least a rough idea of what we want to do, and they we can start fine tuning it," said Chris Shiflett, chairman of the advisory committee during a meeting of the committee Thursday at Southeast Whitfield High School.
Committee member Steve Card suggested they should focus on "the three Rs — roads, recreation and rescue."
Committee members seemed comfortable with the proposal, though they said it should be broadly interpreted. "Rescue," for instance, could include most public safety requests as well as proposed repairs at the Whitfield County Courthouse and renovations at the Whitfield County Jail.
Committee members had previously agreed on a target of a four-year SPLOST, which is expected to collect $66 million.
Committee members spoke after hearing from attorney Tom Minor and realtor Mike Maret about a proposal to repair the dam at Threadmill Lake to improve stormwater control and to link the lake by walking trails to Al Rollins Park, Brookwood Park and Lakeshore Park.
"This is a project that was originally proposed by the Archway Project 10 years ago," said Minor. "This would affect stormwater control for a basin that roughly starts roughly at Mount Sinai and goes down to Ryman Farm, Walnut Avenue, Dug Gap Road and that entire area."
The Archway Partnership was a University of Georgia partnership with the greater Dalton community to help local communities reach their strategic goals.
The dam at Threadmill Lake was breached almost 20 years ago, and the project would include repairing the dam and building a concrete structure. When Dalton Utilities had responsibility for stormwater control in the city, it included that work as a suggested project.
The lake is privately owned, and Maret said it would have to be acquired by the City of Dalton or Whitfield County. They cited Dalton Utilities' 2014 estimates that the repairs to the dam would cost $2.1 million.
Committee members noted that the project had not been included by city or county officials in their SPLOST requests. They suggested Maret and Minor approach City Council members and county commissioners to gauge their support. The two agreed to do that.
The committee meets Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Edwards Park Community Center. The committee's meetings are open to the public and can be livestreamed at https://livestream.com/accounts/25637515/events/7960637.