Dalton and Whitfield County negotiating new service delivery agreement
Public services throughout Whitfield County could be at risk if officials do not reach a service delivery agreement.
Under state law, cities and counties must negotiate a new service delivery agreement, which states what services the entities will provide and how they will be funded. Services include police, fire, public works serviced and many others.
Without an agreement, Whitfield County, Dalton, Tunnel Hill, Varnell and Cohutta will become ineligible for funding, grants and permits.
The current agreement expires on October 31.
Tunnel Hill, Varnell and Cohutta city officials have already signed the new deal. Officials representing all three cities tell Channel 3 they depend heavily on county funding. On Thursday, Dalton city officials spent hours negotiating with county commissioners. The city has not signed the agreement. Mayor Dennis Mock says his team does not agree with some of the terms.
“We probably hit 90 percent of them and agreed on them yesterday in the meeting and that was the opening you know I think we're on good terms then the wheels fell off later,” he explained. “We the city believe there are inequities in the service delivery agreement and we'd just like to iron some of those out.”
Mock could not share what was discussed in that meeting or what exactly his team and the county could not agree on. However, he says it is a budget issue.
“In terms of mediation, we can't talk publicly about what those items are. They are the big-ticket items everyone's concerned about,” Mock said. “We are the driving force and everybody knows that. Dalton is the biggest city and we have the most to lose if we don't get it right.”
We reached out to the county commission Friday morning, but did not get a response.
While there are no discussions scheduled, Mock says they are working to meet with commissioners again privately. He says he is confident they will reach an agreement with the help of the October 31st deadline.
"I would hate to see us go to litigation. It's going to be too expensive for all of us."