Walker County Newsletter  Issue 12
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In this issue:
  • The Road to Financial Recovery
  • T-SPLOST takes effect on Sunday, April 1
  • Walker County gets StormReady
  • County offices closed on Friday, March 30th
  • Quick Hits
The Road to Financial Recovery

Walker County Sole Commissioner Shannon Whitfield provided an update on the road to financial recovery and path to growth at this month’s Walker County Chamber of Commerce meeting.  Whitfield revealed how the county’s shared sacrifice approach to tackle $70 million in debt is starting to pay off. 

In the fiscal year that ended September 30, 2017, Whitfield slashed $2.4 million from General Fund expenses compared to 2016.  In addition, Whitfield approved a balanced budget for fiscal year 2018 last fall and the county has not generated any new debt, as of March 2018.  $650,000 has also been paid on the Erlanger debt to date.

The highlight of the road to financial recovery came at the end of the presentation, when Whitfield offered a current snapshot of the debt.  The county’s total liabilities as of September 30, 2017 trended down to $66,361,000.

The figure is even lower today, as payments on two Tax Anticipation Notes (TAN), bonds, lease payments and accounts payable dropped the total liability figure to $52,040,158, as of March 26, 2018.  That's roughly an $18 million reduction in total liabilities since the end of the 2016 business year.  Whitfield noted that number is a moving target and will likely trend up, as the county will need another TAN at some point this summer.  Still, the numbers show progress.

Whitfield also introduced new hires Robert Wardlaw, Economic and Community Development Director, and Matt Williamson, Legal and Policy Director.  Wardlaw will work to grow existing businesses and recruit new employers.  Williamson will review and recommend revisions to codes and policies to prepare Walker County for future growth, among other duties.

Watch the full 14 minute presentation here 

TSPLOST takes effect this Sunday, April 1st

Walker County voters approved a Transportation Local Option Sales Tax on November 7, 2018 by an overwhelming majority. On Sunday, April 1st, local businesses will start collecting the additional penny tax to help fund road and bridge projects.

The County sales tax rate will change from 7% to 8% for most goods and services. Here’s a breakdown of how that 8% tax is figured.

  • 4% - Georgia State Sales Tax (increased from 3% to 4% on April 1, 1989)
  • 1% - LOST (local option sales tax took effect on April 1, 1976)
  • 1% - SPLOST (“special purpose” local option sales tax took effect on October 1, 2014 and ends on September 30, 2020)
  • 1% - ELOST (education local option sales tax took effect on July 7, 2017 and ends on June 30, 2022)
  • 1% - TSPLOST (transportation special purpose local option sales tax takes effect on April 1, 2018 and ends on March 31, 2023)
While TSPLOST will start being collected in April, it will be late summer before the county starts receiving the funds.  With that in mind, Walker County is targeting Fall 2018 to tackle the first TSPLOST funded projects.

There are 674 miles of road in Walker County. An engineering firm will be evaluating each road and assigning a grade on a scale of 1 to 100, based on Georgia Department of Transportation specifications. The assessment will cover both paving quality and safety of our roads and bridges. Once the study is complete, the data will be added to our GIS system to map and color code roads by their grade.
This process will also show us where there are clusters of roads that are severe, in addition to which roads are more heavily traveled and create the most safety issues. Then, we will be able to make decisions on which roads to address based on data.
Once complete, the road study information will be made available to the public, so everyone can see the condition of all county roads.
Walker County gets StormReady

The National Weather Service (NWS) has recognized Walker County as a StormReady County, acknowledging local efforts to reach a high level of severe weather preparedness.

In order to earn StormReady designation, Walker County had to meet certain criteria established by the NWS, state and local emergency management officials.  An Emergency Operations Center, the ability to monitor local weather and river conditions, having multiple ways to alert the public, and trained storm spotters were among the standards required.

The StormReady label provides an expectation that warnings issued by the NWS will be communicated by local emergency management to the public, giving people a chance to respond.

One of the resources Walker County uses to alert the public about severe weather is the Hyper Reach Community Alert System.  Those who subscribe can choose to receive weather alerts by phone call, text message or email. Residents are encouraged to take advantage of this free service by signing up at or by calling 706-638-1437 and ask to be added to the list.  

Walker County also plans to grow its base of storm spotters.  The county will host a course on what to look for to provide the community with timely and accurate severe weather reports.  Volunteers interested in becoming storm spotters or who need additional training should mark May 1st on their calendar. Additional details, such as a location and time for the course, will be announced in April.
All Walker County Government offices will be closed on Friday, March 30th with the exception of the Walker County Landfill, which will operate on regular hours.
Quick Hits
Rossville Police arrested 46-year old Christopher Shane Nichols in connection with the theft of copper at the Coats American building that resulted in an oil spill.

Rossville Police found a couple of bags of copper, tools and clothing left behind at the crime scene and tracked Nichols with the help of area scrap metal dealers.
March 21st was Down Syndrome Day in Walker County.

Commissioner Whitfield issued a proclamation to raise awareness about the condition and show support for those with Down syndrome, who are active participants in educational, occupational, social and recreational circles in our community.
The Walker County Board of Elections met on March 8th and finalized dates for advance voting for the May 22, 2018 General Primary, Nonpartisan General and Special Election.

Advance Voting (Early Voting) begins 21 days prior to most elections at the Walker County Voter Registrations and Elections Main Office.
Commissioner Whitfield signed a proclamation 
declaring March as Intellectual Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

Representatives and clients from Lookout Mountain Community Services & Kaleidoscope attended a Commissioner's meeting to support the designation.
Got wildflowers? The Shirley Miller Wildflower Trail is starting to bloom at the Pocket! We've added a brief slideshow online to feature some of the plants currently available to see.

Just remember, if you head out for a visit, you need a Go Outdoors Georgia hunting, fishing or lands pass license from the Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources.

Commissioner Whitfield also declared March as Multiple Myeloma Action Month in Walker County.

Many patients have never heard of myeloma until they are told they have the disease.

Sheriff Steve Wilson successfully battled this blood cancer a few years ago.
Copyright © 2018 Walker County Commissioner's Office, All rights reserved.

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