published Saturday, November 24th, 2012

Catoosa County, Ga., planning special purpose local option sales tax

 Gary Sisk
Gary Sisk
Photo by Alyson Wright /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

This time next year, half of the Catoosa County (Ga.) Sheriff's Office patrol cars will have more than 100,000 miles on their odometers, newly elected Sheriff Gary Sisk said.

That's why Sisk is hoping the Catoosa County Commission will ask the county's voters in 2014 to dedicate part of a proposed special purpose local option sales tax to buying new cruisers. The sheriff's office bought only four cars this past year, he said.

"We're way behind," Sisk said. "We need to be buying 10, 15 cars per year."

Catoosa commissioners will hold an all-day work session Tuesday to discuss renewing the 1-cent-per-dollar sales tax. The meeting starts at 8:30 a.m. in the Conference Room at the Catoosa Colonnade.

"We're just asking people to continue it for another five years," said District 3 Commissioner Jim Cutler, who represents the Ringgold/Graysville area.

Unlike the local option sales tax that goes to the general fund of the county and its two cities, the special purpose local option sales tax must spell out exactly what projects will be funded.

On Tuesday, county department heads and city officials from Ringgold and Fort Ogle-thorpe will present commissioners with projects they'd like funded. Cutler didn't know of any specific projects, but he said both cities want more money for their sewer systems.

In addition to asking for new patrol cars, the sheriff's office will seek a 125-bed expansion pod at the county jail, Sisk said.

"It's built in a pod design," he said of the jail. "It was built with a third pod in mind."

The 248-bed jail averages about 220 to 225 prisoners now, and that's increasing by about 3 percent a year, Sisk said.

Sisk, who'll be away for three weeks in Forsyth, Ga., at mandatory training for new sheriffs, said he's already put in his requests with County Manager Mike Helton.

"Sheriff [Phil] Summers will go [to the meeting], if need be," Sisk said.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers Catoosa and Walker counties for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California. Stories he's covered include crime in blighted parts of metro Detroit and Reno, Nev.; environmental activists tree-sitting in California's Sierra Nevada foothills; attempts by the Michigan Militia to take over a township¹s government in northern Michigan. A native of Michigan, ...

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