How Walker Works – Taxing Authorities

LaFayette, GA – Local governments rely on property taxes to provide a substantial portion of the funds necessary to offer services that enhance the quality of life and safety of its citizens.

Every year, property owners receive a bill in the mail spelling out their total taxes due.  The amount differs based on where you live, due to the number of taxing authorities in each community and the funds each entity needs to operate.

In Walker County, there are eight main taxing authorities:

-Chickamauga City Schools
-City of Chickamauga
-City of Fort Oglethorpe 
-City of LaFayette
-City of Lookout Mountain
-City of Rossville
-Walker County Board of Education
-Walker County Government

A Downtown Development Authority also has taxing authority.

In Georgia, each taxing authority has the ability to raise or lower taxes on its own, without approval from any other authority.  For example, school systems — which make up the majority of taxes owed in most communities — do not need the approval of a city council or county commission, in order to set their portion of the millage rate. 

So, what do you get for your property taxes?  Schools use these funds to put teachers in every classroom… and pay for things like technology, supplies and buildings.  Cities and Counties use property taxes to fund law enforcement and courts, animal control, land use planning and zoning, fire protection, road and stormwater maintenance, code enforcement, transit and library and health department operations, among other services. 

Not every citizen will use every service available… but the combined offerings help build a community we can be proud to call home.

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Walker County Fire Rescue Responds to Early Morning Fire at Landfill

Chickamauga, GA – A recently filled area of the Walker County Landfill caught fire early this morning.

Around 2:00 a.m., material that had been brought to the landfill Tuesday flared up in the Construction and Demolition section, where building waste such as lumber, glass and brick is disposed.

Firefighters with Walker County Fire Rescue used about 35,000 gallons of water to contain the blaze, which covered about a fourth of an acre.  Landfill and Public Works crews also smothered the area with dirt to further combat hot spots.

Crews will continue to monitor this area in case the fire rekindles.  A cause for the fire remains undetermined.

Georgia EPD has been advised of the incident and is monitoring the situation.

Latest “Retire Your Tires” Amnesty Day Achieves Record Turnout

Chickamauga, GA – Before the gates even opened last Saturday, the crew working Walker County’s latest Retire Your Tires Amnesty Day knew the event would be bustling.  Vehicles were lined up and down Marble Top Road waiting to get in to the Walker County Landfill to dispose of tires for free.  “We actually opened early because people began arriving around 7:00 a.m.  It was a tremendous turnout,” said Paine Gily, Landfill Director.

Throughout the day, 629 residents brought loads of tires to the landfill, many coming from Rossville, Chickamauga and LaFayette.

After the last vehicle departed, Gily made a final count and discovered the landfill had collected 8,933.  The final tally set a record and topped last year’s event by 2,192 tires.  “This tire amnesty day was a great example of the community coming together for the environmental and health benefits of the county,” said Gily

Properly disposing of scrap tires helps eliminate mosquito breeding sites. The wet spring has provided mosquitoes with plenty of locations to lay their eggs. A female mosquito only needs an inch of standing water to lay a batch of over 100 eggs.

Community partners, including Rossville Public Works, Wilson Road Neighborhood Group, Chattanooga Valley Lions Club and Boy Scout Troop 316, made the event more inclusive to all members of the public by providing pick up services to the elderly, disabled and out of town military.

Walker County began offering a tire amnesty day in 2017.  Over the course of three events, 21,217 tires have been removed from the community and sent to a recycling center to be turned into industrial fuel or rubber mulch for landscaping and playgrounds.  Due to demand, a second tire amnesty day will be offered in late fall.

Retire Your Tires Amnesty Day Event Returns April 27th for Walker County Residents

Chickamauga, GA – Walker County residents will have a chance to participate in a community clean-up effort next week, as the county’s popular Retire Your Tires Amnesty Day returns. On Saturday, April 27th, the Walker County Landfill will accept tires free of charge from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The community removed 6,741 tires during last year’s Retire Your Tires Amnesty Day event, an 18% increase over 2017. Tires were sent to an approved recycling center and turned into industrial fuel or rubber mulch for landscaping and playground applications.

During the amnesty event, car and light truck tires with wheel sizes 20 inches or less will be accepted, as well as ATV (all-terrain vehicle) tires. Tires must be dismounted from wheels and free of mud and debris. Tires with rims and large truck, tractor or heavy equipment tires are not eligible for amnesty.

Retire Your Tires Amnesty Day is only for residents, not for commercial businesses. Proof of residency, such as a driver’s license or current utility bill, will be required to dispose of tires for free during the amnesty event. Those participating will also be required to unload their own tires and adhere to a limit of 25 tires per vehicle.

Residents unable to transport tires to the landfill should contact one of Walker County’s approved amnesty partners. The City of Rossville, Chattanooga Valley Lions Club and Wilson Road Neighborhood Group are among those participating. Specific contact information can be found at walkercountyga.gov/tires.

Properly disposing of scrap tires helps eliminate mosquito breeding sites. The wet spring has provided mosquitoes with plenty of locations to lay their eggs. A female mosquito only needs an inch of standing water to lay a batch of over 100 eggs. More mosquitoes this summer could hasten the spread of West Nile Virus.

Landfill Hours Updated as Enforcement Begins for Unsecured & Uncovered Loads

Chickamauga, GA – In an effort to improve the customer experience, the Walker County Landfill will begin opening to the public on Wednesdays, effective immediately.  The move comes as the county adjusts gate hours at the landfill to make public access times more consistent and less confusing.  Effective April 15th, gate hours will run 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday for all customers, residential and commercial.  Customers will need to be in line before 4:00 p.m. in order to receive service.

Also, beginning on April 15th, Walker County Police will be issuing $25 fines for unsecured/uncovered loads.  Georgia law (O.C.G.A. 40-6-248.1) clearly states no vehicle shall be driven or moved on any public road unless such vehicle is constructed or loaded or covered so as to prevent any of its load from dropping, escaping or shifting in such a manner as to:

(1) Create a safety hazard; or
(2) Deposit litter on public or private property while such vehicle is on a public road.

Unsecured/uncovered loads lead to littering and motor vehicle crashes.

New Landfill Hours Effective April 15th

Chickamauga, GA – In an effort to improve the customer experience, the Walker County Landfill will begin opening to the public on Wednesdays, starting the week of April 15th.  The move comes as the county adjusts gate hours at the landfill to make public access times more consistent and less confusing.

Effective April 15th, gate hours will run 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday for all customers, residential and commercial.  Customers will need to be in line before 4:00 p.m. in order to receive service.

Also, beginning the week of April 15th, Walker County Police will begin issuing fines for unsecured/uncovered loads.  Georgia law (O.C.G.A. 40-6-248.1) clearly states no vehicle shall be driven or moved on any public road unless such vehicle is constructed or loaded or covered so as to prevent any of its load from dropping, escaping or shifting in such a manner as to:

(1) Create a safety hazard; or
(2) Deposit litter on public or private property while such vehicle is on a public road.

Unsecured/uncovered loads lead to littering and motor vehicle crashes.

How Walker Works – Walker County Landfill

 

Along with household garbage and waste from construction and demolition sites, the Walker County Landfill accepts brush, tires, paper/plastic and other recyclable materials and metals.

Landfill Manager Paine Gily explained, “When they come to the scalehouse our scalehouse operators are going to ask the customer what are you bringing in? What do you have that you would like to dispose? And then based on what they tell our scalehouse operator, they will route them to the proper disposal area. And it’s just important that we not mix waste streams.”

Proper separation protects human health and the environment, and keeps materials that can be reused from taking up space in the landfill. It’s also necessary because some of the material brought to the landfill no longer stays on site.  Gily said, “At the transfer station, we will take the household waste and that’s food containers, food scraps, anything for consumption that has been thrown away… food wrappings, bottles, that type of thing. The type of stuff that you would generate in your kitchen or bathroom or living room and set out on the curb for the waste disposal service to pick up. We load that into tractor trailers and then those tractor trailers are taken to a large municipal solid waste landfill in north Alabama.”

The Walker County Landfill stopped storing household waste on site in 1998, but continues to isolate construction and demolition materials at this location. “And that involves bricks, wood, wall board, tile, ceramics, things like that,” added Gily.

And because it’s the law, residents are reminded to make sure items being brought to the landfill are property secured during transport. “Please tarp your loads, so that waste doesn’t blow off onto the roadsides on the way to the landfill,” urged Gily.

The Walker County Landfill is located at 5120 North Marble Top Road, near the Animal Shelter.  It’s open 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, except on major holidays. Cash, check, debit and credit cards are accepted as forms of payment.

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Commissioner Provides 3rd Quarter Update on County Finances & Improvements

Rossville, GA – Walker County Sole Commissioner Shannon Whitfield provided an update on the road to financial recovery at the latest Walker County Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Whitfield discussed the 270 day turnaround in cash flow and how the county was able to operate longer in 2018 without a Tax Anticipation Note (TAN) compared to last year.

In January 2017, Walker County faced an $8 million shortfall in operating expenses for the year. The county addressed the financial crisis through a series of moves to cut expenses, improve efficiencies and using $7.5 million of an $8 million line of credit, which was paid off early on December 22, 2017. This year, TAN’s are $2 million less than the amount authorized last year.

Whitfield also revealed a number of other accomplishments, including a $12,000 profit at the Walker County Landfill following years of six-figure losses, a significant reduction in the number of animals euthanized at the Walker County Animal Shelter and plans for road improvements in the near future.

In addition, the Commissioner discussed the budget process, roadside mowing and Walker Rocks during his update.

Walker County Receives State Grant to Target Litter and Enhance Community Pride

LaFayette, GA – A state grant just awarded to Walker County will save taxpayers thousands of dollars and keep a valuable community service in operation.

The Environmental Protection Division (EPD) of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources approved a “Right of Way Litter Detail” grant for Walker County. Grant funds will offset some of the cost of operating Walker County’s Litter Detail Program (LDP), which aims to improve the county’s appearance and promote civic pride.

Walker County will be reimbursed for qualified expenses ranging from protective equipment, such as gloves and boots, to fuel and maintenance for the LDP’s transport vehicle.

“This is a great thing for our community,” said Commissioner Shannon Whitfield. “This grant validates the work being done to beautify our county and supports our efforts to eliminate potential eyesores. With a growing number of outdoor enthusiasts coming here for Walker Rocks activities, first impressions are key.”

Whitfield added, “I appreciate the state’s investment in this initiative and the contributions of the Walker County Sheriff’s Office and their trustees to make this program a success.”

The LDP, which consists of one county employee and several trustees, removed 123,020 pounds of litter from public right of ways in 2017.

Small Fire at Walker County Landfill Kept Contained

Chickamauga, GA – A small fire, about the size of two basketball courts, ignited this afternoon at the Walker County Landfill.

The fire occurred around 3:30 p.m. in a contained area. Landfill crews used dirt from a nearby stockpile to smother the fire and create a break to prevent it from spreading.

Firefighters with Walker County Emergency Services arrived a short time later and set up a coordinated water shuffle to douse the flames. The process involved seven fire trucks hauling water to a staging area to continually fill two 3,000 gallon portable water tanks.

Once the fire was under control, crews built a berm around the area and removed other potential fuel sources. The Walker County Landfill handles construction and demolition waste, such as lumber, tile and brick.

Crews will remain on site overnight conducting a fire watch to be immediately alerted should the fire rekindle.

Georgia EPD has been advised of the incident and is monitoring the situation.