December 14, 2013

Dalton, Whitfield to set budgets

Judging from the turnout at their respective budget hearings, the public may not care much that the Dalton City Council and the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners will vote on their 2014 operating budgets on Monday.

Or maybe the public has seen the budgets and is satisfied with the spending priorities.

The City Council has proposed a basically conservative budget. Spending is set to rise 2.9 percent from 2013 to $30.2 million. Most of that increase is driven by factors largely out of the council’s control such as higher health insurance costs, including new fees mandated by the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as well as higher payments required by the city’s pension plan.

The council’s budget forecast calls for property tax rates to remain the same next year.

Commissioners have proposed a $40.7 million general fund budget for 2014, up from around $37.3 million in projected spending for this year. But commissioners say that increase isn’t really as large as it looks. About $500,000 of it is state money for paving roads. The only roads that will be resurfaced will be ones funded by the state. Another $600,000 is funding for the county pension. Commissioners haven’t had to pay anything into the pension for the past three years because it has been funded at more than 100 percent. But during that time, the liabilities have grown, so the county is going to have to put money in to keep it at 100 percent. And commissioners are going to put in an additional $450,000 for higher health care costs, including fees required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Board Chairman Mike Babb says the county can probably make it one more year without a property tax increase but commissioners are considering asking voters for a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) next year to pay for things such as patrol cars for the sheriff’s office, fire trucks and road paving beyond that funded by the state.

Commissioners are set to vote at noon in Administrative Building 2 in Dalton, while the City Council will vote at its regular meeting at 6 p.m. in City Hall. This will be your last chance to speak to elected officials before they vote, so whether you are happy with their proposed budgets or think they are misguided you need to turn out.

Text Only
  • Tax holiday weekend is perfect time to shop

    August means children across the state are headed back to school, and for parents that means it’s time to buy new shoes and clothes for children who have outgrown their old ones. It means it’s time to buy new school supplies, and it may even mean it’s time to get a child a new computer to do their school work.

    July 30, 2014

  • "We’ve had a great ride"

    For 60 years, the Green Spot has been a part of Dalton. It survived long after most other locally owned grocery stores in the area had folded to competition from big chain grocery stores and to big box super stores.

    July 29, 2014

  • Charles Oliver: Traveler from a district in Columbia?

    Jim Gray was traveling out of Orlando International Airport when a Transportation Security Administration officer tried to stop him from boarding his plane.

    July 29, 2014

  • Letter: Children are not the enemy

    We recently read somewhere that our country is at war, not with another nation but with one another.

    July 29, 2014

  • Ensuring the joy of reading

    They’re little, they’re libraries, and best of all, they’re free.

    July 28, 2014

  • Move carefully, but soon

    No one intended for it to happen. No one had any bad motives.
    But during a period of 40 years or more, quite a few people didn’t do enough planning, didn’t have enough foresight to see what all of the development in Dalton would do.

    July 27, 2014

  • Local school systems must bear costs of federal immigration failure

    No word. No warning. Little help.
    That’s what Dalton Public Schools officials received from the federal government when it dropped 30 Central American students into local classrooms last school year.

    July 26, 2014

  • Sacrifices worth honoring

    Members of the Dalton City Council were recently approached by representatives of the local chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart with a request to declare Dalton a Purple Heart City. Council members indicated they will approve the request.

    July 24, 2014

  • We must do better

    The numbers tell a sad tale.
    Registered voters: 36,843.
    Cards cast: 5,307.
    That means the turnout for Tuesday’s runoffs in Whitfield County was a measly 14.4 percent, according to unofficial results from the Whitfield County elections office.

    July 23, 2014

  • Letter: Control immigration

    Thousands are starting to pour into our country, and things are getting personal. Why would we end up the bad guys if we turn away children who aren’t ours? How does it make us better people to let one man steal from our children and stand by and do nothing?

    July 23, 2014