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Walker County Newsletter  Issue 5
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Making Slow, But Steady Progress
June featured several opportunities for residents to ask questions and get answers about topics of interest to them. Sole Commissioner Shannon Whitfield engaged with folks at Susan's Diner over lunch, met with the newly created Citizen's Advisory Group, held two Town Hall meetings and three Commissioner meetings.

You need not worry about whether you missed any of the latest information. The Walker County Newsletter provides updates on ongoing initiatives, items of interest and upcoming events.

This issue includes information on the Town Hall meetings on Canyon Ridge, mowing, codes & clean-ups, and the new One Walker Chamber app among other topics. If there's something you'd like to see included, send us an e-mail. If you have friends that would like their own copy, ask them to opt in here.
Town Hall Meeting Recap
Over 150 Walker County residents attended one of two town hall meetings on the Canyon Ridge Resort development in June. Walker County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield, Walker County Development Authority Chairman Robert Wardlaw and Scenic Land Company President Duane Horton provided information on the project and potential financial benefits. Following their presentation, the panel fielded more than 60 questions from the public over the course of the two meetings.
 
Responses to many of those questions have been posted online in a FAQ for those unable to attend one of the meetings. One question that came up multiple times dealt with the tax abatement, and why the developer needs a 30 year incentive if he believes so much in the project.
 
It’s no secret, Walker County is financially broke and badly in debt. The county does not have the funds necessary to provide the infrastructure required to support this project. In addition to a fully equipped Fire and EMS station, other services traditionally provided by governmental entities need to be addressed.
 
In the case of the Canyon Ridge Resort development, Scenic Land Company plans to pay for and build the infrastructure on its own. The tax abatement provides Scenic Land Company with a rebate of sorts for funding community improvements that government typically handles. It also places Scenic Land Company on a more level playing field to compete against similar projects, many of which are funded by cities and states.
 
Here are a few other notes from the town hall meetings:
.         Property taxes on the project site today and for Years 1 through 5: $16,688 annually
·         Property taxes on the project site for Years 6 through 30: $121,353 annually
·         Total sales tax revenue from the project for local governments within Walker County: $660,000 annually
·         Hotel/Motel Excise tax revenue: Estimated at $770,000 annually to market & promote tourism in Walker County
·         Projected tax revenues to Walker County over 40 years WITH project: $78,872,405
.         Projected tax revenues to Walker County over 40 years WITHOUT project: $1,866,720
.         Developer must employ 180 full-time employees and invest $100 million in the project to earn the full abatement
.         Total direct jobs: 292 (hotel/resort and related jobs, excluding construction)
.         Per capita income in Walker County: $21,430 (Georgia Department of Labor Area Labor Profile 2015)
·         Average compensation for resort/hotel employees: $37,000
·         Average daily room rate: $280
·         Occupancy rate: 60% to 70%
·         Number of visitors a year: 35,000 to 50,000
·         71% of revenue to come from out of state
 
Future steps:
·         Developer must finalize financing
·         Walker County must create a Special Tax District for residents of the Canyon Ridge community by the end of 2017
·         State of Georgia must approve Tourism Development Act incentive
·         Georgia’s General Assembly must approve a Hotel/Motel tax for Walker County in the 2018 legislative session
Next Walker County Commissioner's Meeting: Thursday July 13th at 6:30pm
Commissioner's Office • 101 South Duke Street • LaFayette, Georgia 30728

Mark your calendar!
 
You're invited to the opening of Walker County's fourth full-time fire station on Friday, July 14th! Station 2 in the Flintstone/Chattanooga Valley area has been operating since the early 70's as a volunteer station. 

Walker County just renovated the station, adding sleeping quarters and other amenities to provide 24/7/365 protection. In addition to full-time staff, Station 2 will feature a Quick Response Vehicle, which can respond to any incident, but is primarily used for medical calls and traffic incidents. 

Hot dogs, chips, drinks and snacks will be provided during this open house event on Friday, July 14th from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at 63 Cubine Road in Flintstone.
A boil water advisory was lifted Sunday for Walker County Water & Sewerage Authority (WCWSA) customers, ten days after being issued.

A mobile water treatment plant was connected to the Walker County Water Treatment Plant to provide additional filtration to water being distributed to customers. A series of water quality tests were then required before the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) declared the water safe to drink.

The boil water advisory served as a precaution after a routine test on June 29 resulted in a positive E. coli sample from a source well. Testing efforts were increased, and the treated water sent to homes and businesses remained free of the bacteria during the advisory period.

EPD officials believe surface water got into the well. Animal waste in and around ponds and lakes can leave E. coli in surface water. Fractures in the ground caused by drought and other geological changes can lead to surface water mixing with well water. Surface water requires a type of filtration the Walker County Water Treatment Plant is not currently capable of treating on its own. Read more about this issue and water conservation guidelines here.

Be prepared for the next emergency. Get weather and community alerts on your phone or email. Sign-up today by following this link. We'll be testing the system on August 1st.

One Walker App
The "One Walker" App is here! The Walker County Chamber created this mobile guide to all things Walker County, including places to eat and shop, events and attractions, job postings, coupons and more. Each city has its own section filled with valuable information. The county also has its own tab featuring links to report an issue, reserve the Civic Center and an extensive "How Do I?" listing to answer some frequently asked questions. Download it today from the iTunes store for Apple devices or Google Play store for Android phones and tablets.
Quick Hits
Financial Partnership: 
Walker County Sole Commissioner Shannon Whitfield signed a resolution in June to borrow $4 million through a Tax Anticipation Note (TAN) from First Volunteer Bank of LaFayette.
 
The previous administration left Walker County over $70 million in debt and with very little cash on hand. The loan, along with the loan acquired in January, will cover the finances needed to fully fund the county’s monthly operational expenses for the remainder of this calendar year.
Lunch Conversation:
Commissioner Whitfield held his second Lunch Conversation with the Commissioner in June at Susan's Diner in Flintstone. Commissioner Whitfield welcomed questions, comments and ideas on matters important to Walker County residents. Guests purchased their meals. The conversation was on the Commissioner.

Where should we hold our next Lunch Conversation?
Mowing Season:
Mowing crews continue to tackle the task of cutting grass along 1,368 miles of roadway. The load has been tougher this year for several reasons. Along with the wetter than usual weather, the county no longer sprays right of ways to stunt the growth of vegetation. There was mounting concern the process was killing bees and other plants.

Find out where our crews will be mowing each Monday on our facebook page.
Helping Hands:
Hundreds of students recently joined forces with P52, a local faith-based service organization, on a mission to improve Walker County.

Students tackled projects like painting, cutting grass and disposing of garbage and junk. Chris Robinson, P52's Director, coordinated with Walker County Codes Enforcement to identify residents in need of a helping hand to comply with local property standards.
Ongoing Initiatives:
Codes Enforcement Officers are now making inspections in a new zone. They will be checking for violations from McFarland Avenue to the Catoosa County line, between Highway 2 North and the Tennessee state line. This area excludes the City of Rossville.

Codes Enforcement Officers will be in uniform and in marked vehicles.
Safety Improvements:
Walker County Emergency Services (WCES) Assistant Chief of Training Nathan Farrow instructed a Georgia Fire Academy course at the WCES training center. Roughly 20 firefighters and fire service officers from multiple north GA departments attended the "Incident Safety Officer" course.

Fire Chief Blake Hodge says "hosting these state coordinated courses saves local departments the cost associated with traveling to and from the state fire academy, and allows firefighters to return home to their families each evening.”

Chief Hodge notes the department recently implemented a professional development program that includes over 20 courses to educate and advance firefighters and fire officers.
Employment Opportunities
Staffing Changes
Walker County welcomed Landon O'Neal to the staff in June. O'Neal serves as Public Relations Intern and comes to us from the University of Georgia. His summer post is paid for by a grant from ACCG, the Association County Commissioners of Georgia.

See the latest list of openings available on the county's website
Things To Do This Month
Farmer's Market
Have you dropped by the Battlefield Farmer's Market yet to check out the selection of locally grown produce, beef, honey, jams and crafts. They are open rain or shine from 8:00 a.m. to Noon on Saturday and 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Wednesdays at the Walker County Agriculture Center, 10052 U.S. 27, behind the Civic Center.
Meeting & Events Calendar
Thank You!
Walker County Emergency Services honored Captain James Bulman, a volunteer firefighter for more than 10 years. Capt. Bulman recently retired from Station 16, which serves the Center Post Community and Broomtown Road area. We’re also appreciative of Capt. Bulman’s wife, for her support during his time of service.
Coming next issue: A glimpse at the new Walkerga.us website, now in development
Copyright © 2017 Walker County Commissioner's Office, All rights reserved.


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