Letter: Let's move forward

The Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce was a vocal supporter of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST). The SPLOST referendum didn't go our way on election day. Today, I'm proud that we conducted ourselves with a great deal of honor and integrity throughout the process, and the chamber welcomes the opportunity to help build consensus on the path forward.

The chamber is generally supportive of paying for local projects through SPLOST because it spreads the tax burden across the greatest number of people. However, we must listen to voters and learn from our previous efforts. As you might imagine, we've had dozens of conversations about the SPLOST during the campaign and since the referendum failed. What we heard in those conversations is that the SPLOST failed primarily because of process, length, cost and buildings.

To these ends, on future SPLOST referenda the chamber will advocate for greater public input into developing the list of projects. We will also advocate for a shorter and less costly SPLOST next year. The chamber understands that many of the projects included on the SPLOST, defeated a few weeks ago, are critical to the continued development of our community. There are also critical maintenance issues that cannot be put off, such as replacing the roof at the Whitfield County Courthouse, finding a permanent home for our Accountability Courts and finding a solution for the Administrative Building 2, which the Dalton Fire Department has ordered to be vacated. We don't want these projects funded by property tax increases if at all possible.

Today, there is still important work that must be done to keep the community moving forward. We believe our best days are ahead of us, and we look forward to working with our elected officials, community partners and citizens on those next steps. The chamber will continue to do our part in solving the issues with our housing market, improving quality of life throughout the community, working with our partners at the Downtown Dalton Development Authority to redevelop downtown Dalton, creating a positive image for our community, fostering entrepreneurship and job growth and other priorities.

To paraphrase President John F. Kennedy, we choose to do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard, and because they focus our best energies and skills towards solving problems that cannot be postponed.

Rob Bradham

President and CEO of the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce

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