published Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Ringgold backtracks on Costco funding

by Andy Johns

Ringgold, Ga., is back on board funding site improvements for Costco as long as Fort Oglethorpe agrees to help its neighbor on a similar project, which could be a Kroger store.

At the end of February, Ringgold opted out of a deal with Fort Oglethorpe and Catoosa County that would have funded site preparation for the forthcoming Costco Wholesale store at Cloud Springs Road. The deal would have funneled all of the sales tax the store generates back into paying down the loan for the prep work.

At the time, city officials had said they weren't sure they were allowed to route the tax money, which Ringgold would receive through a previous agreement, the way the county had proposed. On Monday, Ringgold Mayor Joe Barger said the decision was just about Ringgold getting its fair share.

"That was the only issue, and it has been agreed (on)," he said.

The mayor also said the city is in talks with Kroger Co. to put a supermarket on private land along Battlefield Parkway inside the Ringgold city limits. He said talks are under way, but the city essentially is waiting for the Cincinnati-based grocer to make a decision.

Attempts to reach Kroger officials for a comment Monday were unsuccessful. Kroger has two supermarkets in Dalton, Ga., one in Calhoun, Ga., and previously had stores in Chattanooga.

Regardless of whether the city closes a deal with Kroger, Mr. Barger said, both cities need the agreement in writing because of the opportunities it could provide in the future.

"If it doesn't happen, we still need to leave the door open for funding," he said.

Attorneys are working on the wording of the agreement, and the councils should be able to adopt it soon, the mayor said.

Fort Oglethorpe Mayor Ronnie Cobb, who spearheaded the effort to bring Costco to Catoosa County, said he was glad to have his city's neighbor back on board.

"We sat down and got that all ironed out. It was just a few misunderstandings," Mr. Cobb said. "We got past that little old hurdle."

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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