Just last month Gov. Sonny Perdue announced that net revenue collection from July totaled $1.1 billion, a $117 million reduction from July of last year. While Georgia cities only receive about 7 percent of operating funds from the state, in a more rural area like Gordon County, that is still a large reduction.
“Our service levels have really been stretched,” said Calhoun City Administrator, Eddie Peter-son.
Calhoun has eliminated 14 positions over the past 18 months, and Peterson said that has changed the way the city does business.
“In our building inspections department, we used to run a customized service. A person would call us a 9 a.m. for an inspection and we would be out there within the hour. But now we might have to wait a day,” Peterson said.
The next step in city wide reductions, according to Peterson, could impact the level of services the city receives, such as recreation, library, inspections, road maintenance, and administration and public safety.
The cities have also had to deal with reduction in state services like mowing of state Department of Transportation right of ways, and local resurfacing projects.
“The Local Area Assistance grants are gone,” Peterson said.
He points out that transportation in Gordon County depends on state routes 135, 156, 53 and US highway 41.
“Without substantial state help, we will never solve our transportation problems,” Peterson said.
Transportation issues seem to be the main concern among local municipalities, whether it is road conditions, or law enforcement to patrol the roadways, all departments have felt the pinch.
“The guys at the Cartersville District DOT are always willing to help in anyway possible. The people with the Department of Community affairs are wonderful to work with. The Georgia State Patrol does what they can, but they been cut to the bone. The agencies are not the problem. They have been cut off from the funding,” Peterson said.
Peterson said that all long-term plans the city might have had for building of public safety have been put on hold.
“Our five or 10 year plans have been scrapped,” he said.
It isn’t just local services that have been affected; it is also local investments as well.
“Several years ago we were earning $300,000 in interest on savings account and reserves,” said Peterson. “This year we earned $50,000.”
But according to Peterson, the number one way to get the community back on its feet is to in-crease employment.
“Nothing is going to happen until we get everyone employed,” he said.
Calhoun, along with the other communities in the county, is working with the economic develop-ment committee to bring companies into Gordon County.
“It is a difficult time for everybody, not just local government,” Peterson said.