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Former Dalton Mayor David Pennington discusses events during an interview in in this file photo.

After another daylong mediation, the city of Dalton, Georgia, Whitfield County and three other municipalities still do not have an agreement to announce on the county's service delivery strategy.

Bruce Frazier, communications director with the city of Dalton, said the group got out of mediation just before 6:45 p.m. Tuesday without an agreement.

Elected officials in Whitfield County met Tuesday to discuss the shared services in the county after more than a year of disagreements among government entities.

Representatives of the city of Dalton, the Whitfield County Commission and the other municipalities met in a closed-door meeting for eight hours with Senior Judge Adele Grubbs of Cobb County to negotiate the service delivery strategy.

The strategy is a state-mandated agreement that lays out how local governments pay for shared services such as public health, sewer, fire, public housing, law enforcement, road work and dozens more.

After eight hours of mediation on Oct. 17, the city of Dalton and Whitfield County hit a wall and couldn't find common ground on an agreement over government services before the Oct. 31 deadline. The county's three other municipalities — Tunnel Hill, Varnell and Cohutta — have sided with Whitfield County and would sign the agreement as it stands now.

Without an agreed-upon strategy, the county could lose its qualified local government status — a state designation that ensures municipalities don't duplicate services — and potentially miss out on millions in state and federal grant funds.

Georgia statute says that Jan. 12 is the new deadline for negotiations, which is 60 days from when Grubbs was appointed as mediator.

Dalton Mayor David Pennington did not return phone calls for comment Tuesday. Whitfield County Chairwoman Lynn Laughter declined to comment per Grubbs' orders.

Contact Patrick Filbin at pfilbin@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickFilbin.

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