The 2010 Georgia General Assembly convenes Jan. 11 in Atlanta.
Mayor Wright Bagby Jr. said he’s aware of the state’s budget crisis, and wanted to be sure lawmakers realize the city also is struggling to stay in the black.
“Whatever it takes, we’re going to make it through,” Bagby said. “But we need your help in making sure whatever happens down there doesn’t affect our revenues or expenses.”
City officials asked for help moving forward the U.S. 411 Connector to Interstate 75 in Cartersville, the Second Avenue widening project and the four-laning of Ga. 140 between Chattooga County and I-75 in Adairsville.
“That is an industrial development project for the whole Northwest Georgia area,” Commissioner Buzz Wachsteter said about the Ga. 140 project.
Sen. Preston Smith, R-Rome, said land is being acquired for the connector using federal dollars earmarked several years ago.
A lawsuit is expected from the Rollins family — Bartow County property owners who successfully sued to stop the project in 1991 — but Smith said a new suit is not expected to prevail.
“We’ve already been that route. The studies were done to be bulletproof,” he said. “We’re hoping we can move past that quickly, and we’re all working together trying to get federal construction money.”
City commissioners also asked the delegation to keep a close eye on plans for Lake Allatoona as the state tries to deal with a federal court ruling to halt water withdrawals from Lake Lanier to serve metro Atlanta counties.
“I think there will be some talk about a transfer from Allatoona before it’s over,” City Manager John Bennett said. “If they do that, then they need to return it to this basin. It (sewer piping) is expensive, but it’s necessary.”
Many of the city’s priorities mirror policies adopted by the statewide Georgia Municipal Association, including a push to let local jurisdictions collect their own sales tax instead of having it funneled through the state.
GMA representative Tom Gehl said a pilot program conducted with the Department of Revenue turned up huge discrepancies between state and local information.
In Gainesville and Hall County, he said, 881 businesses paying the DOR were not registered locally, and the state “was unaware of” 1,356 locally registered businesses. That means neither entity was getting all the sales tax owed, he said.
“Again, if you have any opportunity to privatize collections, we’d be more than happy to be a guinea pig,” Bagby said.
State Reps. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, and Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, also attended the gathering to hear from the City Commission. State Rep. Barbara Massey Reece, D-Menlo, was having oral surgery and state Rep. Rick Crawford, D-Cedartown had a previous commitment.