Full house at Aug. 8 commissioner's meeting in Walker County

The county commissioner’s meeting on Aug. 8 was filled with complaints, questions, and suggestions. But the commissioner took it all in stride, despite having just delivered great news to the county in the form of two financial benefits: A lower millage rate and a savings of almost $4 million as a result of refinancing county bonds at a lower interest rate — and for less loan time.

Hot off the heels of announcing he and his team had saved the county $4 million through a bond refinance for the benefit of taxpayers of Walker County, Commissioner Shannon Whitfield had to open up his Aug. 8 meeting to complaints, questions and suggestions.

A question raised by one individual was about the millage rate decrease. He wanted to inquire as to why there was a decrease in it.

According to the commissioner:

“The way the millage rate system works is it is a moving target every year based off of the assessed values and all (of property). And, so our goal has been — once we set the millage rate in 2017, we had to go up about 2 mils — and our goal going forward is to try to maintain consistency and to keep it as flat as possible.”

The commissioner also stated that the millage rate system “is a very complicated system and its a very frustrating system, to be quite honest. And we were able to keep it as flat as we could without raising the property taxes on the taxpayers in Walker County.”

Next up was someone who wanted to complain, and it wasn’t the first time that this individual has complained to the commissioner based upon his podium speech.

Thursday night, Aug. 8, he wanted to complain about the issues in his neighborhood regarding litter. He said his neighbors are littering in his yard, and he cannot get them to stop doing it.

Previously he had told the discourteous neighbors to stop and then talked to the sheriff’s office to complain. But he says he received no satisfactory resolution, so he came to voice his issue to the commissioner, too.

That individual had more than one complaint, saying another neighbor of his was allowed to live as he pleased, regardless of how the detraction to others’ property in the community was impacted by his hoarding compulsion. Specifically, the hoarding seemed to be going on at the back of the individual’s home’s exterior, but it was still was a thorn for this commissioner’s meeting attendee.

No names were mentioned, to protect the identity of the person not present to speak for themselves, of course. But the commissioner listened to the complaining citizen, just as the citizen told the audience that the commissioner did in the past, when Whitfield took the time to come to the citizen’s home and sit at his table and listen.

The commissioner explained that while he might sympathize with the situation, there was only so much he could do in his official capacity under the circumstances.

This resulted in the individual at the podium going over the five-minute time limit in order to give the commissioner some suggestions, namely that the commissioner could get the county’s equipment out there and remove the debris out from behind his neighbor’s house — forcefully.

He also educated the commissioner about when Bebe was in office and how she would send out someone with county equipment to take care of that neighborhood’s ditches, which he was having to use his own equipment to do now.

The commissioner listened and took it all in respectfully.

Next up was a gentleman who wanted to weigh in on the Wilson Road Neighborhood Group and the proposal for an enhanced services special tax district.

He didn’t want it.

This man also wanted to enlighten the commissioner about the lack of a sign on Wilson Road that really needed to be addressed: An “end of school zone” sign, to be exact.

According to this meeting attendee, there were plenty of signs to advise you that you needed to reduce speed because you were entering the school zone, or you were “in it,” but none to tell you when it was over.

The commissioner assured him the sign would be up by Monday, Aug. 12 and that if he wants to confer with more individuals who have an issue with the establishment of an enhanced services special tax district that he was sure those present who opposed it would reach out to him at the end of the meeting.

The next commissioner’s meeting will be on Thursday, Aug. 22 at 6:00 p.m. at the Walker County Courthouse Annex III building, located at 201 S. Main St.

Jan Morris is assistant editor for the Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga., and the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga.

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