Whitfield balks at city road projects

Whitfield balks at city road projects

December 15th, 2010 by Adam Crisp in News

Whitfield County Commission Chairman Mike Babb presides over a meeting at the administrative building downtown Dalton in this file photo.

Whitfield County Commission Chairman Mike Babb presides over...

Photo by Adam Crisp /Times Free Press.

DALTON, Ga. -- Whitfield County commissioners voted Tuesday to develop more specific guidelines in an agreement with Dalton on when and how to repair roads.

The county operates under a 2008 agreement with the city to provide up to $1.8 million annually in road work inside city limits. But according to the county, there is confusion about what's included in the agreement.

The county also is facing a $5 million budget shortfall in the coming year, and Commissioner Harold Brooker suggested the contract is too expensive.

On Tuesday, county leaders tabled a request from the city to install push-button-operated crosswalk signs at a school crosswalk. The request would total more than $7,800 and that raised concern among commissioners, who questioned whether signs were part of the original agreement.

"What agreement are we going to honor; the one that's signed or the one that isn't?" asked Commissioner Randy Waskul. "If we approve this, we are opening ourselves up to a lot more money."

Commissioners gave Chairman Mike Babb and the county attorney the authority to execute a new agreement with the city that specifically spells out what the county will and won't pay for in the next road-repair agreement.

Commissioners seemed to agree that, under the new agreement, the county should only pay for repairs and maintenance to the actual roads and not for signs, traffic signals and drainage.

Back in 2008, as a means to save money, Dalton handed over all road repair work to the county and the city did away with its own road department.

Since then, however, the city has never requested the full $1.8 million in road construction. In 2009, the city asked for $1.1 million in work and, so far in 2010, it hasn't reached the $1.8 million limit.

Also on Tuesday, County Administrator Bob McLeod read a brief farewell statement. McLeod, on the job for about two years, will end his employment with the county on Thursday. He said he plans to form a governmental consulting firm in Dalton.

Contact staff writer Adam Crisp at acrisp@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6323.