By 2040, it is expected that about half of the people that will be living in Dawson County and the housing they occupy are not here today.
That means 50,000 people are expected to live in the county by then, according to Bill Ross of Ross & Associates, who last June was charged with helping the Dawson County Board of Commissioners begin the process of updating the county’s impact fee schedule.
Impact fees help offset the costs of capital improvements and services as the county develops. The services that benefit from impact fees include fire protection, law enforcement, emergency/911, the library system, parks and recreation and road improvements.
Last Thursday the commission voted to approve an impact fee methodology report and impact fee schedule, which shows how impact fees are calculated, what projects the funds will be used for and the maximum cost to each new residence and business.
The impact fee schedule, which must now be sent to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs for approval, shows a maximum of $3,580.34 charged to each new single-family home, $1.97 per square foot for each new office building and $2.51 per square feet for each new specialty retail center.
The impact fee schedule will be part of the county’s comprehensive plan, which the county is currently working to update with the aid of the Georgia Mountain Regional Commission (GMRC).
One document required for the collection of impact fees is called the Capital Improvements Element and is adopted as a chapter of the comprehensive plan.
The comprehensive plan is updated every five years and is used by elected officials as a guideline for future growth and development, including capital projects allocations and the future land use map.
According to the methodology report, impact fees are limited to capital items having a life expectancy of at least 10 years, such as land, buildings and other facilities and major rolling stock, such as fire trucks.
Impact fees cannot be used for maintenance, supplies, personnel salaries, or other operational costs, or for short term capital items such as computers, furniture or automobiles, the report states.
The county collected $1,651,000 in impact fees between 2006, when they were enacted, and 2009, when they were suspended.
Projects that the fees will be used to fund include seven new fire stations and the replacement of three aging stations, a new branch library, an additional 200 acres of park space and improvements to heavily-trafficked county roads including Lumpkin Campground Road.
The comprehensive plan must be ready to submit to the GMRC and department of community affairs by August of this year.
In other business:
The board of commissioners also voted to implement a 2 percent pay raise for all county employees, to be effective in April.
The estimated cost of the raise is $232,985.
The county contracted a salary study in 2016 and approved salary increases based on the study in April 2017. No increases were approved in the 2018 adopted budget, but the commission had previously stated that if the county ended 2017 in a positive financial position that they would consider the increase.
Senior center and park revitalization
The commission approved a revitalization concept plan for the Margie Weaver Senior Center and Veterans Memorial Park, which was presented by Senior Services Director Dawn Pruett.
The current senior center was built over 25 years ago, and the county received a $700,000 donation in April 2017 to build a new center.
Pruett is applying for funding to assist with the construction through a block grant, in which the county is eligible for $750,000. The concept plan must be included in the application.
The concept plan shows a new 4,800 square foot expansion behind the existing center.
A new pavilion and restrooms would also be part of the revitalization of the park and senior center area.
The board also approved a contract with Wakefield Beasley & Associates to develop drawings and specifications for the construction of the expansion, not to exceed $204,000.
Senior development on Ga. 400 tabled
The commission voted to table a zoning request for a mixed use senior lifestyle center on Ga. 400 northbound.
An additional public hearing will be held at the April 5 voting session to allow commissioners and the public a chance to review the plans and offer input.
The 52-acre community would encompass assisted living, independent living, single family detached homes, retail, medical office space and a four-story hotel, among other amenities and outdoor areas.
The planning staff and planning commission recommended approval of the rezoning application as it aligns with the county’s future land use plan.