published Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Pennington says he’ll seek re-election after all

  • photo
    David Pennington, the mayor of Dalton, Ga., stands inside of the City Hall facility.
    Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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DALTON, Ga. — Despite saying he would serve only one term, Mayor David Pennington said four years in office were not enough to accomplish his goals for the city.

On Wednesday, he announced plans to run again.

The city has made progress during his tenure by cutting taxes and tackling several greenway and construction projects, Pennington said. However, he wants to cut taxes further and renegotiate the local options sales tax agreement before he relinquishes the job.

Qualifying for the Nov. 8 election runs from Aug. 29 through Sept. 2. Pennington said he does not know if he will face a competitor but welcomes anyone to jump into the race.

“I love to campaign, and I love competitive races,” he said.

Pennington touted his 25 percent property tax cuts as one of his biggest accomplishments. The cuts came during some of the worst economic times in recent history but were made possible by steep budget cuts and layoffs.

In the next four years, city leaders’ goal is to eliminate property taxes in part by renegotiating the local option sales tax agreement with the county, in which the city gets about 15 percent of the 1 cent sales tax while the county takes 84 percent.

Pennington calls the sales tax split “one of the most unequitable in the state” because the city has about 35 percent of the county’s population.

If the city and county do not vote for a merger next fall, which they are discussing, the two governments will need to reach an agreement on the tax to go into effect in 2013.

Whitfield County Chairman Mike Babb disagreed with Pennington’s assessment of the tax split. Babb said the 84 percent the county receives is used to lower property taxes for the entire county, including the city. About 47 percent of the county’s land value is in the city, so city property owners actually receive a large share of the county’s cut, he said.

Most city/county SPLOST funds in the state are divided based on population, Babb said, but he called that kind of division “ignorant.”

“We think they [the city] are getting a fair deal — this something we won’t agree on,” Babb said.

about Mariann Martin...

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, ...

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