Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor gave his first State of the County address during a Bartow GOP meeting Saturday, indicating a lag in tax collections due to the economic downturn continues.
He said a hiring freeze on full-time employees as well as worker furloughs and short-term borrowing with tax-anticipation notes would continue and indicated changes to save money on the county's pension plan are in the works.
Taylor also addressed officials' decision to postpone, for a second time, the construction of a $5 million public safety headquarters that would combine and locate and EMA operations at the proposed site off Felton Road between Tennessee Street and Highway 41.
Approved by voters in 2007, the project to construct a 34,500-square-foot facility was to be funded by Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax dollars the county began collecting in 2008, The Daily Tribune News reported.
"The SPLOST revenues from '08 are not coming in at the rate the previous administration anticipated," Taylor said, according to a video published by BartowPolitics.com, which is attached. "It's a tough decision and the firemen are disappointed. It's just something we don't have to do right now."
The county had traded infrastructure work for the land in a deal with State Rep. Paul Battles, R-Cartersville, who was administering a trust left by John and Ann Collins, and had put about $1 million into the project, according to the newspaper.
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"The fire department we've got right now is sufficient to serve our needs," Taylor continued. "It looks like it may be into next year before this project gets done. If it does get done, it will be with the '08 SPLOST funding and not with the new SPLOST.
"Times in tough in Bartow County as far as the budget goes. I've turned down request after request after request."
Taylor said he does plans to hire three or four new firemen.
LakePoint Road, More Jobs on the Horizon
Taylor said construction on the road to accomodate LakePoint Sporting Community & Town Center south of Cartersville is set to begin mid-March or the first of April. Construction on Bass Pro Shops would then start in the spring or summer of 2014.
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To the north, auto-parts manufacturer voestalpine, which already signed on to create 220 local jobs, has the option on a second phase Taylor said "we think [is] going to go," which would bring 450 more jobs, he said.
"Europeans pay good wages.... That's the kind of jobs I would like to see in Bartow County," Taylor said. "LakePoint, you're talking about 10,000 to 20,000 [mainly service] jobs...but the really good-paying jobs will be the manufacturing jobs."
Officials also are hoping another "sister" company comes to the Highland 75 business park off Cass-White Road near Interstate 75.
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