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BOC holds second budget hearing
Third and final hearing scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 18
FB DCN Government County

The Dawson County Board of Commissioners could vote Thursday to adopt the 2019 proposed budget.

The board held the first hearing Oct. 4 and the second on Oct. 11.

Prior to the hearing Oct. 11, Chairman Billy Thurmond stated he had three changes he wished to propose: adding back $1,100 to the general supply budget for the Tax Commissioner’s Office, including $6,200 in the planning and zoning department budget for computer software that was not asked for because the former planning director anticipated being awarded a new software; and adding an additional $8,000 to the parks and recreation budget for power.

Parks and Recreation Director Matt Payne said that underestimation on the cost of the new soccer lights at Rock Creek Park as well as the cost of the new pool house having air conditioning and more lights than the older pool house necessitated the need to add more funds to the power budget.

None of the other commissioners discussed any changes they anticipated making.

The current proposed budget is an increase of $700,000 over the 2018 budget, and allocates 23 new positions in various departments totaling over $900,000.

During the public hearing, the only person to speak was Joey Homans, a local attorney and former county attorney, who said he was speaking as a citizen. 

He asked the board to consider earmarking funds for training in personnel management after the departure of three longtime county employees earlier this year.

“It's a great concern to me as a citizen of Dawson County that we lost three of our long term employees (this) year who reside here, raised their families here,” Homans said. “Wages, income and salaries are important but Lanier Swafford, Lisa Henson and Kurt Tangel combined roughly 60 years of experience with our county, left not because of salary, not because of income issues...it seems to me there needs to be some sort of specific training, whether it's to the employees or at the management level that needs to be taken on so that our employees are looked after in addition to what y'all are trying to do to make sure that salaries are equal and competitive with surrounding communities and that they have appropriate benefits.”

The third public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. Oct. 18, after which point the board could vote to approve the budget.

All hearings are open to the public and will be held in in the second floor assembly room at the Dawson County Government Center.

In other business:

County could take over maintenance of Marketplace Parkway

Public Works Director David McKee presented the board with a request Oct. 11 to accept Marketplace Parkway into the county maintenance system.

The road is located in the Kroger Marketplace development and runs from Dawson Forest Road to Whitmire Drive.

According to McKee, the road was formerly named Gordon Moss Road and was a gravel, county-maintained road. It has been developed as a commercial subdivision and built to county standards with the intent for Dawson County to take over the maintenance.

The sidewalks, grass and center of the roundabout will not be maintained by the county but perpetually be maintained by the developer, McKee said. 

“The intent behind this development is ‘you build it to this standard, we’ll take over the maintenance’ and when we take it over it’s a peak performance and we know for the next eight to 10 years other than cleaning out curbs and doing that stuff that it's at peak performance,” McKee said. “They have met all of the obligations of the subdivision regulations and their intent from day one was for it to be a public road.”

McKee said that in a few weeks he will be bringing LMIG, or Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant applications, before the board to start the process of road improvements on High Tower, a commercial subdivision, and Dawson Junction, a residential subdivision, both of which have been accepted into the county’s maintenance program.

“The reason why we have this policy is so we don’t end up with the scenario like we saw in between Power Center Drive and Home Depot (where) we have a road that’s privately maintained and we cannot regulate that,” McKee said. “We can do the best we can do to put pressure on them... if it becomes a life safety issue then yes we close it down, but that's not our purpose or intent.”

Grant could establish Dawson County Family Treatment Court

The Dawson County Treatment Court staff is looking to apply for a grant to establish the Dawson County Family Treatment Court with the goal of getting local children out of foster care.

Debbie Mott, director of treatment services programs for the Northeastern Judicial Circuit, presented a grant application request to the board that will allow for the creation of Family Treatment Court to address the plight of abused and neglected children who have substance-abusing parents.

For 2019, Dawson County Treatment Court’s three tracts, Drug Court, DUI Court and Mental Health Court, were awarded $309,631 in grant funding. The grant would award $67,642 for January through June of next year to create the Family Treatment Court. The grant is given by the Georgia Accountability Court Funding Committee and the county match portion is 10 percent.

“We’re hoping that they will allow us to use the extra space from the Long building that y'all generously gave us as the match, but if not...there are some contingency grant funds that could cover that match,” Mott said.

If awarded the grant, Mott said the funds would be used to fund a case manager position, office supplies and furniture and other costs to get up and running.

EMS to apply for grant to upgrade breathing equipment

Also presenting a grant application was Emergency Services Director Danny Thompson.

Thompson said he would like to apply for an Assistance to Firefighters Grant to upgrade the department’s current self-contained breathing apparatus.

Thompson said that Dawson County is the only county in the area still using an older model, which presents a safety issue as agencies assisting cannot provide Dawson County personnel with breathable air.

Total grant amount would be $275,550.65 and the county match would be $27,255. The money for the match is available in the department’s current budget.

The board could vote to approve the application to both grants as well as accept Marketplace Parkway into the county maintenance program at the Oct. 18 meeting.