AP NEWS

Multi-member commission referendum for Walker County moving forward

March 3, 2017

Legislation needed to bring about a vote on a multi-member commissioner government for Walker County will go to the Georgia House next week, Commissioner Shannon Whitfield said Thursday night.

Once both the House and Senate has approved the non-binding referendum, it will go before Gov. Nathan Deal for his signature, he said.

The referendum calls for a four-plus-one commission, which is similar to Dade County’s multi-member commission, Whitfield said. "You have a full-time chairman who runs the day-to-day operations and management of the county. That person would run at large in the county."

Four districts would be created in each of the four cities -- LaFayette, Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain and Rossville. Each city would constitute its own district, which would be broken up by population through the census process, Whitfield said. A commissioner would be elected from each district.

"Every ten years, you apportion those maps to rebalance out your population within a particular tolerance," he said. "So if the state passes this legislation, the governor signs it, which would usually be around June, due to the fiscal year beginning July 1. Once that is signed it has to go on the ballot of the general election for the citizens to vote on."

The next scheduled general election is November 2018.

"Once it goes on the ballot in the general election and if the legislation doesn’t change anything, there will be an option on the ballot to either vote for the sole commission or a four-plus-one commission," Whitfield said. "If and when that passes to go to a board, then that board would have to be elected at the next general election, which would be November 2020."

Once the board is elected, the newly commissioners would take office on Jan. 1, 2021.