City council decided Monday, Aug. 9, to waive penalties and interest on overdue taxes for the first two weeks of the month of September.
Calhoun Mayor Jimmy Palmer admitted the decision is not entirely fair to citizens who paid their taxes on time, but allowing would-be taxpayers to settle up without penalty could generate significant revenue.
“It’s not a fair system in some ways,” he said during the council’s midday work session, but said it would allow some residents “to catch up” and be more likely to pay on time next year.
The last time the city waived penalties and interest was two or three years ago, City Administrator Eddie Peterson said; he said he things the city could see around a two-percent return this time. Tax collections are at about 93 percent right now, he said.
“All the other communities are doing it,” Council Member David Hammond said. “We’ve talked about it on (Northwest Georgia) Regional Commission. People need a break right now.”
Council members made a unanimous decision to turn down a lighting offer from the Georgia Department of Transportation Monday night.
Peterson said he received word recently that the long-sidelined Union Grove/ Interstate 75 interchange project was ahead of the Redbud Road/ Interstate 75 interchange to receive high-mass lighting.
Representatives from the DOT, he said, wanted to know if the city wanted the high-pressure sodium luminaries for the Union Grove interchange.
This offer presents somewhat of a conundrum, as construction on the Union Grove interchange has not even begun, and some local officials say it will be years before the project is completed.
“I’ve been told that it (the Union Grove project) is on the fast track,” Palmer said, but noted that “there are no shovels in the ground down there.”
Also detracting from the feasibility of the lighting offer is the fact that the area falls outside the city’s electrical district, meaning the city cannot serve electricity to the area (as the DOT requests) unless it owns the lights.
As part of the offer, the DOT would own the lights and the city would have to find a way to serve power to them. The city would be required to assume responsibility for the lights for 50 years, and if the lighting is disconnected during that time, the city would be obligated to pay the DOT back for the original cost of equipment and installation – well over $1 million, according to Peterson.
The council also opted to decline the DOT’s offer based on the fact that high-mass lighting is more beneficial for exits that are home to tourism-supported business; the Union Grove interchange will probably be home to industrial facilities.
“It’s not the face of Calhoun,” the mayor stated.
Earlier this year, the council accepted a high-mass lighting offer for the Redbud Road exit on the interstate.
Downtown Calhoun will soon have an official historic district.
City council members can vote on the matter Aug. 23, Peterson said, but they may choose to add another public hearing at that time.
All homes within the specified area qualify to be considered historic; adjoining properties that fall outside the area may be included “at the homeowners’ request,” said council member Al Edwards.
View Calhoun Residential Historic District in a larger map
Also during the Monday, Aug. 9, meeting, Calhoun city council members: