Chamber panel discusses water, taxes

Article published in Rome News Tribune 10/21/10

Chamber panel discusses water, taxes
byDoug Walker, Associate Editor
Joe Cook
Joe Cook
The words “ecology” and “economy” can generally be found on the same page in most dictionaries. They’re not always that close in the business world.

“You’ll have to forgive me if I don’t trust the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce,” said Rome’s Joe Cook, Upper Coosa Riverkeeper and head of the Coosa River Basin Initiative.

Cook addressed the Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce’s Governmental Affairs committee Wednesday, seeking support for legislation to limit interbasin transfers of water in Georgia.

Cook said he’s concerned about efforts to construct a 2,000 acre reservoir northeast of Atlanta.

Committee chairman Carlton Ulmer, chief operating officer at Redmond Regional Medical Center, told Cook and other members of the committee that chamber leaders met with officials from the Metro Atlanta Chamber just last week.

“I feel like we drove home the point on water,” Ulmer said.

Cook said plans for the new reservoir could divert a significant amount of the flow in the Etowah River to the new impoundment, which is being proposed to help provide an additional source of water for metro Atlanta.

“We introduced legislation last year, sponsored by 67 representatives in the House and 22 senators (to regulate interbasin transfers),” Cook said. “It went nowhere because legislative leadership didn’t want to deal with it, and the Metro Atlanta and Georgia chambers of commerce both came out against it.”

Also on Wednesday, Rome City Commissioner Buzz Wachsteter discussedTuesday’s meeting of the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission, where area officials talked about the proposed regional transportation sales tax.

“It’s a very complicated formula and it’s a very complicated process,” Wachsteter said. “It doesn’t really address the statewide issues.”

Citizens across the state will be called on to vote on the regional financing plan in 2012. Communities that do not vote in favor of the plan will face the specter of having to make larger local contributions to important road projects that have typically been fully funded by the state.

The Governmental Affairs panel also got a report from Martha Summerbell about the chamber’s annual Washington, D.C., trip, which has been set for March 1-3, 2011.

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