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Revenue focus of concern

Official working on proposal to stir growth

POSTED: February 20, 2013 4:00 a.m.

A recent budget comparison has one elected official saying he remains concerned about Dawson County's economic future.

"People don't want to hear it, but we're going to end up at some point, if we don't find another source of revenue, services will have to be cut and I don't think we're having that discussion with the public," said District 1 Commissioner Gary Pichon.

"You can't have it both ways. You can't have really good services and have them for nothing. That's not going to work."

According to a report distributed last week by County Manager Cindy Campbell, revenue collected in 2012 was down by nearly $1.32 million, or 6 percent, from 2011, while expenses were down by $1.38 million from 2011.

She cautioned that the 2012 totals have yet to be audited and still could change.

Pichon, however, said it's time to open the discussions on what the county can do to ensure the worst doesn't happen.

"What's happening is the income from property tax continues to fall. Sales tax is rising, but not enough to cover the shortfall, and nobody wants to deliver the ugly news," he said. "I think the first thing we need to do is to have this discussion."

In the coming weeks, Pichon said he plans to propose an idea intended to boost sales tax revenue along the Ga. 400 corridor.

"We're headed toward problems if we don't get more sales tax to jump out of the ground out at 400," he said.

As the city of Dawsonville has made an effort to improve the downtown area by developing a revitalization plan, Pichon said he hopes the county commission will take a look at improving the Ga. 400 corridor.

"I hope we can take a look at doing something at 400 to try to support that tax base. That's what I'm looking for," he said.

There has been a recent spike in interest from developers along that stretch.

Among the confirmed new businesses are a Dunkin Donuts near Ga. 400 and Industrial Park Road, a Dollar General on Hwy. 53 west of Tractor Supply and O'Reilly Auto Parts just north of Hwy. 53 on 400.

In addition, Charlie Auvermann, executive director of the Development Authority of Dawson County, has confirmed talks with several other potential developments.

"Interest has most definitely picked up in the last couple of months," Auvermann said. "There have been a number of properties that are being looked at because the economy is improving."

Dawson County Planning Director David McKee also recently announced that building permits and building activity are up nearly 40 percent from a year ago.

"This is definitely positive," he said. "January was by far the busiest month for our office in quite some time."

 

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