News Column

Candidate profile — Robbins says financial background will be an asset for county

July 20, 2014

By Charles Oliver, The Daily Citizen, Dalton, Ga.

July 20--Barry Robbins says that his background in banking and finance has helped prepare him to serve on the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners.

From putting together annual budgets to devising strategies to attract new businesses, he says he has the experience for the job.

"Most people I've spoken to are averse to new taxes, and I'm sensitive to that. And most of the people I've spoken to are concerned about what we can do to attract new business and create more jobs," he said.

Robbins finished second in a four-way Republican primary for District 1 on the Board of Commissioners on May 20. He'll face business owner Renee Davis in the runoff Tuesday.

Gordon Morehouse, the Republican who currently represents District 1, is not seeking re-election. No Democrat qualified for the post.

A veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Robbins grew up in Canton and has a bachelor of business administration in finance from the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. He currently works at First Bank of Dalton.

"I've been in lending for over 30 years, primarily commercial credits," he said. "I manage a special assets portfolio, selling foreclosed property."

Robbins said he hasn't "formulated an opinion" on which departments might need further funding or less funding. But he said he will study the budget closely and try to find ways the county can deliver the services it provides at a lower cost, including possibly combining more services with the city of Dalton. The governments jointly fund the senior center, the library and other services.

"I would say this -- even the best-led operation has some waste that can be found with ongoing monitoring," he said.

Robbins said he hasn't developed an opinion on whether the county needs another Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST). Commissioners are currently considering putting one on a special election ballot in March 2015.

"A SPLOST is a very good tool if used properly," he said. "You have to lay out your plans, the timeline and the purpose. If we are talking about say, improving fire protection across the county, I think that would be great. But that also has ongoing costs, personnel and equipment, that we need to consider and plan for including in our future operating budgets."

If elected, Robbins said he would advocate for an east-west corridor, connecting I-59 and I-85. He says that would help local industry better move its products and well as increase the number of people traveling through, and paying sales tax in, Whitfield County.

"Whitfield County is in a great position to attract new business to the area and create new employment opportunities. I propose to examine creative ways to attract economic development," he said.


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Source: Daily Citizen, The (Dalton, GA)

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