DALTON, Ga. -- It shouldn't be a problem to pass legislation to continue the proposed merger of Whitfield County and Dalton before the end of the 2011 session, area lawmakers say.
Rep. Tom Dickson, R-Cohutta, said he supports passing the legislation -- which creates a consolidation charter commission to study the issue -- after speaking to local leaders.
"I think it is a good first step and certainly worth going through to see what a consolidated government would look like," Dickson said Tuesday. "It is a bit premature to say if it is a good thing or bad thing. It depends on the outcome from the charter commission."
State Sen. Charlie Bethel, R-Dalton, said there should be time to move a bill through the legislative process before the end of the session in March or early April.
Whitfield County and Dalton city leaders unanimously agreed Saturday to move forward with consolidation steps. Leaders hope to place a charter referendum on the ballot in November 2012.
The City Council and County Commission plan to meet separately Monday to vote on resolutions asking legislators to approve a charter commission.
The 15-member commission will consist of two City Council members, two county commissioners, one representative each from Tunnel Hill, Cohutta and Varnell, four residents appointed by county commissioners and four appointed by city council members. It will study issues important to consolidation and write a charter for the consolidated government.
Whitfield County Chairman Mike Babb said Tuesday that the county clerk has already received calls from people interested in serving on the commission.
At a tea party event in Dalton on Tuesday, Dalton Mayor David Pennington urged residents to volunteer their time to serve on the commission.
"For the first time in this community, you get to be Thomas Jefferson," Pennington said. "The charter commission will decide what a consolidated government looks like."
Contact staff writer Mariann Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 706-980-5824.
IF YOU GO
The Dalton City Council will hold its regular meeting at 6 p.m. Monday.
Whitfield County commissioners expect to hold a special called meeting at 6 p.m.
Whitfield County Clerk: 706-275-7507. Dalton City Clerk: 706-529-2490