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City to review utility rates after upping late fees on water, sewer
City hall

The city of Dawsonville has voted to commission a review of the city’s current utility rates to determine if there is a need to increase the rates for water and sewer after a new ordinance increasing late fees was ratified earlier this month.

The city’s last increase on utilities was in July of 2016.

After a vote by city council Sept. 24, city staff will be commissioning the study. The cost has not been determined, but Finance Administrator Hayden Wiggins said there is money in the city’s enterprise funds to fund it.

“Whatever they propose, we don’t have to do a rate increase, but that’s something we need to consider as we grow and continue to add people to the city,” Mayor Mike Eason said.

Current rates for residential and commercial water and sewer users can be found online at the city’s website under the City Code of Ordinances Tab. The fee schedule is located under Chapter 2, article four in section 2-110.

The city has already approved a new late fee schedule, which went into effect Sept. 10.

Previously, nonpayment of a bill by the last day of the month in which the bill is due resulted in the city disconnecting the water, so long as the payment was greater than $75. Now, if payment is not received by the 15th of each month, a late charge of $10 will be applied and if payment is not received by the 1st of each month, utilities are subject to disconnection.

Once utilities have been disconnected, the entire balance plus a reconnection fee must be paid in order for reconnection to occur.

Under the previous ordinance, the first time water and sewer service were reconnected customers were charged a $25 fine, the second time a $50 fine and the third time a $100 fine.

The new reconnection fees charge $50 for the first reconnection during a 24 month period, $100 for the second time within a 24 month period and $200 for the third time within a 24 month period.

Each subsequent violation beyond the third reconnection within a 24 month period would result in a reconnection fee increase of $100 from the previous violation.

In the previous ordinance, there was no designated time in which the reconnection had to occur after those fees were paid. The new ordinance states that the city has until 4 p.m. of the next business day to reconnect the services.

The reason for the updates was to address an abundance of customers paying their bills late month after month, resulting in a surfeit of requests for reconnection each month.

 

In other business:

City attorney to update speed zone ordinance

Every two years, the city is required to update an ordinance so that its speed detection permit can be renewed by the state.

The city’s previous ordinance did not include certain city streets and the council is proposing to add Allen Street, Memory Lane, Academy Avenue and Maple Street into the speed detection ordinance.

The council voted unanimously Sept. 24 to have the city attorney draft a new ordinance to include those streets.

“It will require us to put up some speed limit signs and some speed detection in use signs, but it will allow the sheriff’s department to enforce speeds not only on those four streets but the other streets within the city, from Perimeter Road and Hwy. 53 through downtown, Hwy. 9,” Eason said. “They can’t work speed detection inside the city limits unless we approve an ordinance and get a new permit.”

The ordinance would also include a 20 mile per hour speed limit in subdivisions and a 25 mile per hour limit on any other streets unless otherwise posted.

 

Amicalola Regional Farmers Market requests use of future city venue

Dawson County Chamber of Commerce President Christie Haynes asked the city council Monday if they would consider an agreement with the Amicalola Regional Farmers Market so that the market could in future utilize the pavilion that the city is constructing next to city hall.

The regional market held its inaugural season in 2017 and is currently meeting from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. each Friday at Veterans Memorial Park.

Under Moore’s proposed agreement, the Amicalola Regional Farmers Market would continue to host the market as before and continue to approve vendors based on already established rules. Vendors must come from Dawson County or any of the counties that touch Dawson, cannot resell goods and must follow all regulations of the state Department of Agriculture, including allowing Market Manager Clark MacAllister to inspect their sites.

The market would also keep its current name and logo and manage all social media promotion.

“We really believe that it's starting to become known, we’ve spent a lot of time trying to invest in flags and other things just to make sure people know what’s going on,” Moore said.

Moore suggested the market days be kept the same as well as allow for an additional day during the week, and asked that the farmers market committee be able to advise on the final design of the pavilion.

“The city would be responsible for insurance, electricity, landscaping, trash cans, clean up (and) a Wi-Fi hotspot, a lot of people need to have that access if they’re selling their goods,” Moore said.

The city would also be asked to designate a city liaison and Moore asked that the city consider giving the farmers market committee a $5,000 marketing budget so that those funds are not coming out of the chamber budget as they are now.

Finally, the city would have to agree not to charge vendors a business license or vendor fee and the partnership would be subject to annual renewal.

“We’re really thrilled about what you’re building here, we think it's a need in our community and we really appreciate the city council making that a priority on SPLOST and stepping up and making that happen for us.”

Eason said the council would review the proposal and their budget. The city is in the process of updating ordinances and Eason said fee schedules would be part of that. 

“Our purpose here is not to make $25 a year off somebody; it's to provide a place for people to come and a place for people to go for fresh produce.”

 

Construction approved for GRHOF

Following an executive session Sept. 24, the council voted unanimously to utilize $17,784 out of the general fund reserves to remove and replace the flooring in the Gordon Pirkle Room at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame, which adjoins city hall.

Eason said that the construction project was emergent.