published Friday, April 2nd, 2010

Costco pact a surprise for some Ringgold council members

by Andy Johns

When Ringgold, Ga., Mayor Joe Barger said Monday his city was back on board with Fort Oglethorpe's and Catoosa County's plans to fund site improvements for a forthcoming Costco Wholesale club, it was news to some city councilmen.

"He hadn't talked to me about it, and we've got to vote on it," Councilman Bill McMillon said Thursday.

At the end of February, Ringgold opted out of a deal to help pay for site preparation for the big store at Cloud Springs Road. The deal would have funneled all of the sales taxes the store generates into repaying the loan for the prep work.

Monday, however, Mr. Barger and Fort Oglethorpe Mayor Ronnie Cobb said Ringgold would join back up its neighbor as long as Fort Oglethorpe agreed to reciprocate when Ringgold had a similar project to fund.

Mr. McMillon said the last he had heard about the funding was a letter from the city's attorney advising against the deal. He said the council is divided.

"Everybody has their own opinion about it," Mr. McMillon said.

Mr. Barger said Thursday a majority of the council members support getting back into the partnership and that a funding deal is in the works.

"It's going to take time, but we've got time," Mr. Barger said.

Sales tax revenue will start coming in for the county next year, according to officials.

Vice Mayor Terry Crawford wouldn't say he was surprised that Ringgold had gone back to the table with Fort Oglethorpe, but said he learned about it in Tuesday's paper.

"There's a lot of negotiations that goes on that people don't know," Mr. Crawford said.

He also wouldn't say whether he agreed with mayor, but said the deal would be discussed at the next council meeting April 12.

about Andy Johns...

Andy began working at the Times Free Press in July 2008 as a general assignment reporter before focusing on Northwest Georgia and Georgia politics in May of 2009. Before coming to the Times Free Press, Andy worked for the Anniston Star, the Rome News Tribune and the Campus Carrier at Berry College, where he graduated with a communications degree in 2006. He is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Tennessee ...

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