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Board approves county budget
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More than 100 people showed up Thursday night at the second public hearing on the proposed 2015-2017 Dawson County budget.

Steven Liebel, attorney for Dawson County Sheriff Billy Carlisle, spoke about the sheriffs concerns and how his portion of the budget is spent.

The proposed salary increases are inadequate and the county is not allowing the sheriff to control his budget, how it is to be spent and provided by law, Liebel told the Dawson County Board of Commissioners.

In the proposed 2015 budget, Commission Chair Mike Berg recommended 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increases, as well as roughly $400,000 to bring county employees up to minimum standards outlined in a recent salary study conducted by the Archer Company. The COLAs would also include the sheriffs department.

Liebel argued that the sheriff faces problems of understaffing and faces competition on salaries with Hall and Forsyth counties. He also argued that the sheriff should be able to decide where salaries are set at in his department.

The salaries are inadequate and the sheriff should decide how money should be spent for his people, Liebel said.

Bergs budget recommends $6,537,589 for the sheriffs department. Liebel said that with a hybrid plan of having vehicles paid for by Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, the department would request a budget for 2015 of $6,763,589. The sheriff is willing to wait for vehicles and capital improvements, Liebel said.

Commissioner James Swafford asked Liebel if he had suggestions for where cuts should be made to allow for the sheriffs additional funding.

Its not fair for me to tell you what should not be done when it comes to another department, Liebel said. I cant speak to how you should do your administration, nor does the sheriff want to do that.

After Liebels comments, Berg said the board is willing to work with the sheriff in his budget. Were certainly willing to work with the sheriff and any other department to try to come to outcomes that make sense, he said. But theyve got to make sense within the dollars we get. We cant manufacture dollars.

The board unanimously approved the budget as presented, but voted to continue to work with the sheriff to try to reach a common goal. The total budget will be set at $21.66 million. In addition to the 2 percent COLAs, the budget also includes restoring $150,000 to the Dawson County Development Authority. Other items included in the budget are: a corridor planning study, employee health and education, tazers and intoxilyzers for the sheriffs office, a paperless-agenda system, burn panes for the fire department, solar lights for War Hill Park and solar flares for the transfer station.

The budget is available to view in its entirety on Dawson Countys website, www.dawsoncounty.org. On the departments tab, click finance and scroll to the bottom of the page.

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