Dalton names 6 to panel on city-county government merger

Dalton names 6 to panel on city-county government merger

June 7th, 2011 by Mariann Martin in News

Downtown Dalton, Ga. Staff Photo by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press

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DALTON, Ga. - Dalton city leaders have made long-awaited appointments to the consolidation charter committee charged with studying the possible consolidation of city and county governments and writing a countywide charter by April.

During the regular City Council meeting Tuesday evening, Mayor David Pennington appointed council members George Sadosuk and Gary Crews to serve on the committee.

The city also made four civilian appointments to the committee, with council members each suggesting one person. Celeste Cresswell, Phil Neff, Marshall Maudlin and Frank Thomasen were the four appointed by unanimous vote.

The Whitfield County Commission has not made its four civilian appointments, but Chairman Mike Babb has said commissioners would likely do so at their next meeting. Babb and Commissioner Gordon Morehouse likely will serve as the county's appointments, although Morehouse has not been appointed officially.

After the meeting, Crews said he is excited to begin the work, but is not sure when the committee will hold its first meeting.

"It's going to take a lot of time, but if we do it right it will be a great opening for change and improvements," Crews said.

Officials hope to place the consolidation question on the ballot in November 2012.

Public defender

Council members also approved a contract to hire Sam Little as public defender for Dalton Municipal Court.

Former public defender Josh Smith was fired in April, a continuation of the kerfuffle between court employees and city officials. Former Judge Jerry Moncus was fired in September and court administrator David Hamil forced to resign.

City officials have not said why Smith was fired.

According to the contract agreed on Monday evening, Little will be paid $75 an hour for his work and $85 an hour for court appearances.

Little was given a contract on the same terms Smith had, according to City Manager Ty Ross. Ross said he did not know how many hours a year the public defender worked, but he said it was not a heavy caseload.

Lease accord

In other business, council members also approved a lease agreement between the city and the Downtown Development Authority for the former city schools building on South Hamilton Street.

The authority will lease the building for $1 a year for 30 years and will in turn lease it to the Dalton-Whitfield County Chamber of Commerce for the same amount. In addition, the Chamber will transfer its current building and property to the city.

The Chamber plans to move downtown and sublease part of the city-owned property to the Carpet and Rug Institute.

The city is responsible for repairs to the building, the lease notes.

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