Walker County Commissioner addresses debt

WALKER COUNTY, Ga. (WDEF) — Walker County is in massive debt. Officials say it will take years to fix, but a plan is in the works.

An audit shows the county is nearly $70 million in debt, a large portion of that is from the former Hutcheson Medical Center.

County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield says this verifies what they have been talking about for months.

“Our county is in a real bad financial position. We have a negative fund balance and a whole lot of debt. So it is going to take quite a bit of time and years to work through these problems,” Whitfield said.

To get through this there are different options.

“Property tax is a big part of our budget so we are trying to minimize as much as we can from having to raise property taxes and we do have some other options that we are looking at,” Whitfield said.

One way is sales tax.

“That is something that would have to be voted on by the citizens. So we are looking to put that on the ballot in 2017, in November of 2017. That is something the citizens would have to make the decision on and we are hoping to give them the opportunity to do that,” Whitfield said.

Whitfield says residents he has talked to say they are disgusted with the debt but are pleased with the transparency.

“So even though the information is not positive they are just happy we are able to give them the information that they are looking for without having to do open record requests,” Whitfield said.

The goal is to be out of the debt in ten years.

A budget hearing will be in a couple of weeks. The commissioner says he will post that information so residents can attend and look at the different options.

Categories: Local News, Walker County