published Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Panel aims for vote this year on Dalton-Whitfield charter

By Tom Young/Correspondent

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DALTON, Ga. — The Dalton-Whitfield Consolidation and Charter Commission hopes to have its recommendation on how to merge city and county services before voters this year, its chairman said Wednesday.

The panel has been meeting since June and hopes to have a recommendation to be put on the ballot in time for the November election, committee Chairman Frank Thomaston said. Fifteen people representing the city and county make up the commission, which has the task of helping iron out a possible government charter.

A subcommittee headed by Phil Neff recently began meeting regularly with the assignment of bringing possible recommendations to the 15-member commission.

The group is following guidelines and recommendations from the Carl Vinson Institute at the University of Georgia.

The subcommittee is becoming familiar with the Vinson Institute report, according to Neff.

"We are hoping that we will be able to present something to the full commission by the end of March," he said.

Neff said their examination of departments such as recreation and public works could result in consolidations there, while departments such as the sheriff's office and fire services "really cause us to have a lot of work ahead."

The subcommittee is dealing with issues involving how to set up the charter and franchise fees for various utilities.

"We want to make sure we get this done if we can," Thomaston said. "This group is only authorized by the Legislature to do its work during 2012."

The subcommittee will meet again at 2 p.m. Wednesday in Administrative Building 2 at 214 W. King St. in Dalton.

The meetings are open to the public.

Tom Young is based in Dalton. Contact him at tomy1953@netzero.neti.

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