Dalton, Whitfield County agree on road costs

Dalton, Whitfield County agree on road costs

February 9th, 2011 By Mariann Martin/Staff Writer in News

DALTON, Ga. - Dalton and Whitfield County leaders soon will have a written policy that spells out a long-held verbal agreement for the county to annually perform $1.8 million in city road work.

County leaders wanted a new contract because they said there was no cap on material costs. It became an issue late in 2010 when the city requested pricey crosswalk signage.

In a special called meeting Tuesday evening, the Whitfield County Commission approved a public works policy between the city and county in which the city pays the county $1.8 million to resurface, repair and maintain public streets within the city limits, with a $500,000 cap on material costs.

The City Council tabled the same policy in its regular meeting Tuesday after deciding that some points of the agreement needed clarification, but Mayor David Pennington earlier in the day said that he supports the new written policy.

The city and county have been working under a transportation project agreement since 2002 when the two governments began a special one-penny sales tax for road projects.

In 2008, when Dalton dismantled its road department, the city and county made a verbal agreement to pick up the city's tab on road work, but later it was unclear if material costs such as asphalt, signs and traffic lights were included in the $1.8 million total.

Before the meeting, Pennington said the policy change puts in writing what has been verbal policy in the past.

"It lasts for 10 years," he said.

The one-cent sales tax for road projects comes up for a vote sometime next year, Pennington said.

"So any real change will come next year," he said.

The City Council tabled the motion to discuss if Whitfield is required to hire contractors to do the work if the county is not able to fulfill its obligations, which was part of the 2002 agreement.

At the County Commission meeting, Chairman Mike Babb said that part of the agreement does not change in the new policy.

During the meeting, Babb noted that this new policy does not replace the 2002 agreement, it simply adds details.

"We needed some clarification of the changes made in 2008, needed something on a piece of paper," Babb said.

The county normally does not use the $1.3 million allotted for manpower, Babb said.

Contact staff writer Mariann Martin at mmartin@timesfreepress.com or 706-980-5824.