DALTON, Ga. -- Members of the Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center board said they would like to see the center start off on a positive note in 2012, after recent scrutiny of its budget and questions about whether taxpayers should continue to support it.
"It's crucial to get it off to a good start," Robby Staten, a board member and Whitfield County commissioner, said during the board's last meeting of the year Friday.
Board Chairman Dan Rogers added, "Many, many eyes are on the operation right now."
The trade center, built in 1991 and run jointly by Dalton and Whitfield County until it was turned over to arena management company Global Spectrum in 2009, long has been a controversial recipient of taxpayer dollars. Under state law, the city and county split the operating losses.
The center turned in a budget asking the city and county each for $472,000 in operational costs, $112,000 in capital funds and an additional $25,000 to promote events for 2012.
County commissioners initially said they would provide only about $200,000. But according to county attorney Robert Smalley, officials have no option but to fund the center or turn the ownership over to someone else.
Commissioners have not officially voted on a budget, but now have said they will provide the full operational funding.
During the meeting Friday, facility general manager Shashank Gairola said he was grateful the money issue had been resolved. The center would try to find money for several small capital projects but would delay other capital projects and repairs, he said.
Board members also approved a motion on how to respond to requests for trade center records. Gairola said the center had gotten requests from citizens recently, but did not have an official policy on how to deal with the requests.
Under the new resolution, requests will be given to Rogers, who then would notify other board members of the request before supplying the information.
"We want to respond in a timely manner, but we also want to review it with board members," Rogers said.
As a publicly funded operation, the center is required to conform to Georgia's open records law.
Mariann Martin covers healthcare in Chattanooga and the surrounding region. She joined the Times Free Press in February 2011, after covering crime and courts for the Jackson (Tenn.) Sun for two years. Mariann was born in Indiana, but grew up in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Belize. She graduated from Union University in 2005 with degrees in English and history and has master’s degrees in international relations and history from the University of Toronto. While attending Union, ...