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Committee recommends 2 percent raise for commissioners
Dawson County Board of Commissioners

The Dawson County Board of Commissioners during last week’s work session heard the outcome of a board-initiated study into the commissioners’ compensation, which recommended that the commissioners take a 2 percent raise.

District 4 Commissioner Julie Hughes Nix presented a request at a work session in June of last year asking then-County Clerk Danielle Yarbrough to create a committee to review the salaries of commissioners in comparable counties.

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 had not been reviewed since 2005.

The committee was comprised of citizens Tara Hardwick, Bill Johnson and Tony Passarello, and Hardwick presented the committee’s findings at the Feb. 22 work session.

“Based on the results, it does appear that our salaries here in Dawson County, you’re at about 98 percent of the average compensation for like-size counties,” Hardwick said. “You’re really about where you should be.”

Hardwick said that the committee still recommends a 2 percent increase, to be implemented Jan. 1, 2019.

“Based on...the hours that you spend doing the job, as well as comparable Georgia counties, we also are thinking about our current and projected population growth here in Dawson County and a desire to continue to attract only the most highly qualified candidates,” she said.

The chairman makes a $12,000 base salary while the commissioners make a $9,600 base salary. Additional supplements come from additional training and attending called meetings, as well as Cost of Living Adjustments, which are regulated under Georgia code.
“On a personal father was a county commissioner, and there is no way we could ever pay you what you’re worth,” Hardwick said. “It’s obvious that you have a servant’s heart and you’re definitely not doing this job for the money.”

The committee also recommended that the commission conduct a similar study every two years in the future.
Thurmond thanked the committee for their work, but said that he and the rest of the commission will not take a raise until the rest of the employees are given a 2 percent pay increase that they are in line for.

Also during the meeting, Dawson County Humane Society President Carolyn Bowen asked the commission for permission to purchase the 5.3 acres of land that the shelter sits on.

The property is currently owned by Etowah Water and Sewer Authority. The authority leases the land to the county, which leases it in turn to the shelter for $1 a year.

Bowen said that a benefactor and an additional grant will make it possible for the humane society to now purchase the land.

“We have a benefactor who is concerned that we don’t own the land, she has been very generous and added to our shelter buildings and campus and she has made some improvements and she would feel happier if we owned that land,” Bowen said.

Bowen said that though it has not been approved by the EWSA board of directors, they have proposed a reasonable price and so far have not objected to the plan.

“Our purchase of the land won’t affect our contract or our working together, we will go on as always but we would be the owners of the land,” she said. “We appreciate being able to lease that land all these years, since 2005. If we hadn’t been able to do that, we would still be searching for some land.”