Dawson County Board of Commissioners Chairman Billy Thurmond at last week’s work session said he will recommend the board vote to give $135,000 to the Development Authority of Dawson County so that it may continue to operate in a proposed agreement with the chamber of commerce.
The proposition includes moving the authority under the same roof as the chamber and hiring a new economic development director to work under the supervision of chamber President Christie Haynes.
The authority requested $175,00 in fuding during a Dec. 6 joint meeting with the BOC; $150,000 for operations and salary and $25,000 for renovating the basement of the chamber building.
Development Authority Chair Sherry Weeks said during the Jan. 11 work session that it had recently come to the authority’s attention that a handicap accessible bathroom would need to be installed, bumping the unofficially estimated renovation costs up by about $7,500.
Still, renovation is the authority’s best option as the authority bylaws do not allow it to move in to the courthouse, Weeks said.
With a much larger staff than the development authority has had in the past, the presence of chamber employees should be a great help.
“We need someone full time all the time answering calls because when the director is out with a developer, then there is no one there to answer a call,” Weeks said.
District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines asked if the authority had a purchasing policy for obtaining bids for work like what would be required to update the basement for the authority’s needs.
Weeks said that it does not, but that the authority would be willing to consider using the county’s policy.
“We would get no less than three (bids),” Weeks said.
Thurmond said he wants to look at funding the authority’s plans in two steps.
“What I’m going to recommend to the board is that we give you some operational money at our next week’s voting session,” Thurmond said. “That recommendation is going to be $135,000.”
Then Thurmond said he would like a proper bid for the renovation before the board votes to allocate more funds.
“Let’s get it looked at, let’s get some bids to see what that is, and we can look at these different options...whether we’re looking at our capital improvement fund...or if it’s done a different way,” Thurmond said.
District 3 Commissioner Jimmy Hamby said that he was concerned with the possibility of spending taxpayer money on something that eventually will not be county property, because though the development authority owns the loan for the chamber building, once paid off the chamber will own the building.
“I have to say, we’ve spent taxpayer money on Fire Station No. 3, which we don’t own, Fire Station No. 6, which we don’t own, so there are buildings in the county that we are putting taxpayer money into because we use them but are not owned by us,” Thurmond said. “It’s the only option they had at that particular time.”
“Maybe we shouldn’t be doing that,” Hamby said.
Haynes countered that the work that is coming out of the chamber building directly lowers the tax burden by increasing the amount of sales and property tax the county is getting by bringing in commercial projects.
In other business:
The board could vote Thursday to move forward with impact fees at the bequest of Bill Ross, who for the past few months has worked to create an Impact Fee Methodology Report for the commissioners to consider.
Impact fees are charged to new developments based on the amount of public services the development will demand. Acceptance of the report and fee schedule was tabled at the board’s last meeting to allow for consideration; commissioners have since gone through the project list, which includes services they would fund with the collected impact fees, and proposed dropping some of the projects off the list in order to lower the proposed fees.
The proposed maximum fee for a new single family home in 2018 would be $5,281.91.
Animal control ordinance amendments
Planning and Zoning Director Jason Streetman presented the BOC with text amendments to the county’s animal control ordinance that he said will improve animal control services and help make the jobs of enforcers easier.
The proposed additions to the ordinance define adequate food, adequate shelter, adequate space and adequate water as well as outline that while animals must be kept under restraint while on an owner’s property, tethering dogs is not a means of primary restraint.
The amendment adds “activated invisible fences” to the list of primary means of restraint along with fences and enclosures that keep the animals from leaving the property limits and states that it is unlawful for the owner of any dog to utilize a “tether, chain, cable, rope or cord” as the primary method of restraining a dog. Tethering shall be used only as a temporary restraint, according to the proposed changes.
Also in the amendments, language has been added that would make it unlawful to tie, stake or fasten any animal with any right-of-way while off the owner’s property.
The board could vote Thursday on the ordinance amendments.
The BOC could also vote Thursday to adopt the qualifying fees for the upcoming countywide elections. Up for vote this year are the seats of District 1 Commissioner, District 3 Commissioner, Board of Education At Large and Board of Education District 3.
The qualifying fees have been set at $288 for the commission seats and $106 for the board of education seats.