The Dawson County Board of Commissioners voted last week to have County Manager David Headley, Human Resources Director and County Clerk Danielle Yarbrough and County Attorney Lynn Frey establish a committee of citizens to review the commission's compensation for potential changes.
According to county ordinances, the commission "shall review its compensation levels every four years, approximately 18 months before the general election in which the commission chair is elected."
According to Chairman Billy Thurmond, the board's compensation has not been reviewed since 2005.
District 4 Commissioner Julie Hughes Nix presented a request at the board's June 22 work session that Yarbrough create a committee to review the salaries in comparable counties.
The board voted unanimously to move forward with the plan July 6 after a motion by District 1 Commissioner Sharon Fausett.
The current base salary for the chair is $12,000, while the commissioners' base salary is $9,600. This does not include the amount board members could earn for continuing education, a maximum of $1,200 a year for initial training and a maximum of $1,200 a year for additional training, or the amount for special called meetings, $100 a meeting not to exceed $7,200.
Commissioners can also receive annual cost of living adjustments and are paid a percentage increase the more terms they serve.
The total salary for the commissioners in 2017 is as follows: Chairman Thurmond, $14,712.13; Commissioner Fausett, $11,769.71; District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines, $11,769.71; District 3 Commissioner Jimmy Hamby, $13,571; and Commissioner Nix, $15,815.54, for a total of $67,639.03.
If the commission votes to decrease compensation, it would go into effect immediately. Any increases would not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2019.
Yarbrough said Monday she had not yet compiled a committee to study the compensation.
In other business:
Lawsuit over denied rezoning moves forward
County Attorney Lynn Frey presented a proposal for a consent order that he said could speed up the legal process of a lawsuit filed by a property owner whose rezoning requests were denied by the commission in December.
The property owner Bill Evans Jr. and his company Dawson Forest Holdings LLC filed a lawsuit Jan. 12 against the county, board of commissioners and each of the commissioners in turn for denying two of his rezoning applications.
If approved, the rezoning of two parcels of land on Hwy. 53 East from residential agricultural to residential multi-family would have allowed Evans to build 177 single family houses and 95 townhomes on nearly 73 acres of land near the Tractor Supply and Fire Station No. 2.
Frey said that in light of the fact that the county planning and zoning department may have been in error when placing signs, the consent order will serve to settle the dispute quickly as Evans can re-apply for the zoning at the end of the year anyway.
The consent order also removes former Chairman Mike Berg and former District 2 Commissioner James Swafford from the lawsuit and replaces them with current Chairman Billy Thurmond and District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines.
The commission voted unanimously to approve the consent order, which will be sent to Evans' attorneys to sign before it is submitted to the superior court.
Gently used voting machines purchased
The commission voted to allow the Board of Elections to purchase 65 gently used TSX voting units from San Diego County, Calif. The California county went to paper ballots and no longer has need of the machines, which it used only once.
Glenda Ferguson, director of elections and registration, requested $39,194.90 to purchase the units at a considerably lower cost than new machines. The units will replace the 56 R6 units the board currently has and which Ferguson said are aging and difficult to fix.
The purchase will give the board a total of 71 TSX units, the latest certified units now used in Georgia.
LED sign purchased for senior center, Veterans Memorial Park
The commission voted to award a bid for an LED message board at Veterans Memorial Park and the Margie Weaver Senior Center.
The board previously approved $35,000 to replace two signs at the entrance of the park with a programmable message board.