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County decision on raises tabled until March 2
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County employees will have to wait a little longer to see if a raise is in their future as the board of commissioners last week voted to table any decision relating to the 2016-2017 salary study until March 2.

The study was conducted by the Archer Group for the purpose of evaluating county employee salaries and determining areas in need of improvement.

According to Chip King, regional director for the Archer Company, the county commissioned a 2014 salary study that, once completed, was met with limited implementation by county management at the time.

He said the county did not work transparently to make changes indicated by the salary study and received no input from department heads. The new study was a way to address that.

The board has been given six options that would cost anywhere from $650,000 to $1 million if adopted.

King recommended that the board go with option two, which is a 2 percent Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) across the board and totals $937,227.

During his Feb. 9 presentation, King said that the goals of the study are to make sure that county employees are paid fairly internally, as well as competitively, in regards to other agencies.

King said the challenge for Dawson County is retaining quality people while the counties that border it, such as Forsyth and Hall, attract people seeking higher-paying positions.

"When you do a salary study of this nature you don't just look at other organizations with the same demographics, you also have to look at where your talent is going," King said. "And in the case of Dawson County you're really straddling that line: You've got the small-town feel and you're very much a more rural environment...but the challenge of course is that you're right on the edge of pressure coming from the Atlanta market."

District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines motioned to table making any decision until the March 2 voting session before rushing into a decision.

"Personally this is one of the largest decisions that I think we are faced with," Gaines said. "It's a decision that looks at where we're at in two different ways: one, I think we all agree that our employees are our number one asset; and two, we have to be fiscally responsible with taxpayer money."

District 4 Commissioner Julie Hughes Nix seconded the motion and it was approved 4-0.

In other business:

Development Authority board members appointed
The board voted to appoint five new members to the Development Authority of Dawson County with terms that end in December 2020. Those appointed are Mike Ball, Brian Trapnell, Steven Melching, Anthony Passarello and Calvin Byrd.

Gaines asked that a discussion of the board potentially providing training funds for the new members be put on the next work session agenda.

Package store denied off Harmony Church
The proprietors of Harmony Food Mart, a convenience store located on Harmony Church Road in Dawsonville, submitted an application to rezone their 1.58 acres from commercial community business to commercial highway business in order to sell liquor in their store. The store currently sells beer and wine.

The application was heard before the planning commission on Jan. 17, at which point the commission recommended denial because the new zoning would not comply with the future land use plan. The board of commissioners denied the application in an unanimous vote on Feb. 16 due to the noncompliance with the future land use plan.

Public Works move forward with fire station
The board on Feb. 9 discussed the need for a new fire station in the area of Sweetwater Juno Road, and asked that it become a priority for the new phase of SPLOST VI projects, to be planned and built simultaneously with the new public works facility that was already in consideration.

Public Works Director David McKee stated on Feb. 16 that he, along with Emergency Services Chief Lanier Swafford and GIS Analyst Jameson Kinley, had begun the process of reviewing options and various properties for a new fire station in the county.

McKee also presented the first public hearing for the new transfer station fee schedule. The second and final public hearing will be held on March 2.