September 17, 2013

Dalton Council trims taxes

Charles Oliver

— The Dalton City Council cut property taxes for the sixth straight year Monday night.

“I don’t think any other city in America can make that claim,” council member George Sadosuk said.

Council members voted 4-0 to set the 2013 property tax rate at 2.616 mills, down from 2.697 mills in 2012. Officials forecast that rate will bring in some $8.7 million this year, down from $9 million last year.

A mill is equal to one-tenth of a cent. Since the city taxes at 100 percent of assessed value, the cut means the owner of a home valued at $100,000 will pay $81 less in city property tax this year.

“We set the tax rate based on what we thought our needs were going to be and based on our other revenues,” Mayor David Pennington said.

Under the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) agreement local governments signed last year, Dalton will get about $3 million more in sales tax money this year than it had been getting under the previous agreement. But Pennington noted that the city will not be getting some $1.8 million in  in-kind work and services from Whitfield County it received under the old agreement. He said that means the city’s net gain is $1.2 million.

Meanwhile, the transfer payment the city receives from Dalton Utilities will be substantially less than in 2012. The utility, which is owned by the city, pays the city 5 percent of its revenue each year. If revenue declines, the utility’s payment to the city drops.

“It will be $8.9 million, where it was, I think, almost $9.7 million last year,” Pennington said.

The council also voted 4-0 to:

• Approve an ordinance banning construction vehicles and equipment from being parked in residential neighborhoods. Council members said they had heard complaints from residents about heavy equipment being parked in their neighborhoods.

• Approve a $300,000 contract with the Georgia Department of Transportation for clearing trees in the flight approach to Dalton Municipal Airport. The state and federal governments will cover 95 percent of the cost of that contract.

• Transmit the five-year update of its 10-year plan to the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission. The Whitfield County Board of Commissioners voted earlier Monday to transmit its plan update to the regional commission.

• Set this year’s municipal election on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Pennington also issued proclamations recognizing Sept. 17 as Constitution Day, Sept. 17-23 as Constitution Week and Sept. 8-14 as Suicide Prevention and Awareness Week.