Oliver Says Walker County Plans $6 Million Industrial Park On 480 Acres Between LaFayette, Rock Spring

Thursday, August 8, 2013 - by Gail Perry

Walker County Attorney Don Oliver told the Lookout Mountain, Ga., City Council at a special meeting Thursday about big plans that Walker County has for its 20 percent of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) money if it passes in the upcoming election.

Developing an industrial park has been worked on for the past 10 years, he said. The large amount of land needed was found between LaFayette and Rock Spring and an option has been put on 480 acres. In order for the park to be attractive to the target businesses which are classified as tier two and tier three suppliers, four lane access must be built and all utilities made available. A fiber-optic trunk line that connects the entire East Coast is already installed at the location.

This is visualized as the economic engine of the county for the next 20-30 years, he said. Unfortunately, Lookout Mountain, Ga. is the city farthest away from that location and will benefit the least compared to other cities in the county that are physically closer. Development of this property will use $6.6 million from SPLOST money.

The council members must make a list of projects for the money that they receive from this tax, which is derived by adding an optional county tax to the state sales tax. The proceeds are divided among the cities that are in Walker County.


When this levy was first started in the mid-1980’s it was intended to be used for luxuries. Attorney Oliver told the council members that a lot of the expenses that cities face used to be covered by state funds. That is no longer the case, he said, and now the SPLOST money is needed for essentials such as road building.

This money is restricted for use in capital projects. He explained that any project is eligible that would be depreciated, but not expenses that would be included in a yearly budget and that would be paid for that year. Work that is needed on the Lookout Mountain, Ga. sewer system qualifies by this definition. Replacement of 100 feet of the force main at a cost of around $60,000 is needed, and replacement of release valves and the addition of a battery back-up to keep the system functional during a power outage are items that are anticipated. Money from the reserve fund would be available for emergency sewer fixes.

When City Manager Brad Haven prioritized projects for the use of SPLOST funds, sewer work was at the top of the list, using a large amount of the money that the city plans to receive from the tax. In discussions, it was suggested there are other sources of money for sewer repairs because the city has reserves for this purpose in the form of CDs. If the amount allocated for sewers from the SPLOST fund was reduced, it would leave more to be used in the construction of roads, sidewalks and buildings.

The city’s portion of this tax is expected to be $653,000. Attorney Oliver recommended that the project list be developed using a smaller amount and suggested that the city plan on receiving $600,000 to provide a cushion. The amount is conservatively based on zero percent growth, even though, he said it is reasonable to assume the collected taxes will grow three-four percent based on a proposed industrial park in Walker County.

This list must be as accurate as possible for items the money will provide. If it is specifically listed, and the amount of money for the project is not received, the city would have to levy an ad-valorem tax to cover the cost. Projects can, however, be referred to in general terms such as “improvements to the sewer system,” which would allow money to be moved from the sewer to another undertaking if need be.

This source of money is very valuable to Lookout Mountain, Ga., it was stated. Commissioner David Fussell mentioned an opposition group to SPLOST and the effect it would have on the city. It was stated that the city as a body cannot spend tax dollars to promote this tax, but it would be allowed to educate residents and send out a flyer about the importance of voting for it, and what projects that money has been budgeted for.

The next meeting of the city council is Aug. 15. That is the deadline for finalizing and giving the projects list to Walker County. County officials will then put the information together from all cities involved. The next step will be to come to an intergovernmental agreement between the county and cities concerning the money. In the past, the split has been based on population. Once that occurs, all the information will be sent to the Board of Elections to create a ballot for the Nov. 5 election.

In other business, on second reading, the city council unanimously approved an ordinance to rezone a portion of the parking lot at the Methodist Church to the “community convenience zone.” This will allow Dr. Bill Moore Smith to build an office on the mountain.

The council members met in executive session following the public meeting, to discuss the sale of cityowned property.

 


Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: AMMONS, KENDRA LYNETTE  425 SHAWNEE TRAIL CHATTANOOGA, 37411  Age at Arrest: 23 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga THEFT OVER 5000 --- ANDERSON, JACKLIN LOUISE  874 YORK ROAD CLEVELAND, 37323  Age at Arrest: 37 years old Arresting Agency: East Ridge CONTEMPT OF COURT ... (click for more)

Women Break Into House By Crawling Through Doggie Door

Kristen Watkins, 35, and Kathy Davidson, 57 were arrested after officers said they broke into a house on Crescent Club Drive Sunday afternoon. Neighbors, who witnessed the women knock repeatedly on the front door and then disappear to the back, told police the burglars must have entered through the doggie door.  Police said they found the women hiding in a closet inside ... (click for more)

Calling Out Bad Behavior In St. Elmo - And Response (2)

I have lived in the St. Elmo community of Chattanooga for practicially all 52 years of my life. My grandmother moved to St. Elmo in 1919. My Dad was literally born in a home in St. Elmo and lived his entire 72 years in this community and my Mom has lived here 60 years of her life. I am very disappointed in what my neighborhood has become. I like people. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Garden This June

As the month of June dawns anew, it is a fact that more marriages the world over are performed this month. So as we take our monthly walk through the garden, it is hard to remember when it has been this dry. Even so, we have a bushel of orchids and onions and don’t forget Father’s Day on the third Sunday of the month, that this is National Accordion Awareness Month, and that “Flip ... (click for more)

Lookouts Outlast Barons Tuesday In 10-6 Win

BIRMINGHAM, AL --  The Birmingham Barons came close to clawing back before dropping the series' opener, 10-6, to the Chattanooga Lookouts in front of 4,861 fans at Regions Field. The Lookouts found themselves in the midst of back-and-forth contest where either squad could have come out on top. Winning pitcher  D.J. Baxendale (5-5) started and allowed five runs ... (click for more)

Tennessee-Georgia All-Star Football Classic Set For Saturday at CCS

The 13th Annual Tennessee-Georgia All-Star Football Classic, presented by Great Clips, is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday June 4 at Chattanooga Christian School in Chattanooga. Tennessee defeated Georgia 38-14 last June at McCallie School in Chattanooga. It was Tennessee's fourth consecutive victory in the series that dates back to the first game held at Ridgeland High in ... (click for more)