January 3, 2013

New sales tax rate now in effect in Whitfield

Charles Oliver

— Whitfield County’s sales tax rate went up 1 percentage point to 2 percent on groceries and 6 percent on most other items on Jan. 1.

The statewide 4 percent sales tax does not apply to groceries.

Whitfield County voters approved a new education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) by 53.69 percent (6,095 votes) to 46.31 percent (5,257 votes) during the July 31 general primary. The ESPLOST is projected to raise $105 million over five years, with Whitfield County Schools receiving $68.65 million and Dalton Public Schools getting $36.35 million.

County school officials have said they’ll use their funding to pay back about $36 million in debt from previous school projects when they — with voter approval — borrowed more money than they could pay back during the previous ESPLOST. They’ll use the rest of the money on a list of smaller improvements, such as new air conditioning and heating units and sewer improvements, at several schools.

City school officials have said they’ll use their funding to expand Dalton Middle School and Morris Innovative High School. They also have a list of smaller projects to improve several other school buildings.