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Board talks unification
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The Dawson County Board of Commissioners is weighing its options of unified government when it comes to what one commissioner referred to as continual annexation of county property.

The discussion came before a vote to object to three annexation requests from the Gold Creek Subdivision.

According to County Attorney Joey Homans, the city accepting the annexations would, exacerbate the situation of unincorporated islands, meaning that adjacent properties could have different city and county codes that apply to them. For example, a noise ordinance. Just for instance the county has an ordinance against noise late at night but the city folks can boom all night long and we cant do anything about it because they are in the city, District 2 Commissioner James Swafford said. The noise dont stop at the property line.

I think we are finally at a dead end as to how to deal with this, Board Chair Mike Berg said. I think we need help from an outside source.

That outside source could be state legislation.

Swafford brought up the prospect of a unified government. Not that I disagree with people wanting to come into the city, but its either county or city or make it a unified government, Swafford said. I think this board is ready to go with a unified government but it takes a city to come along. So if they want all the county to be annexed into the city we need a unified government from there.

District 1 Commissioner Gary Pichon agreed. He made a motion for Berg and Homans to work together on drafting a letter to state representatives for legislative support to do something about this continual annexation of county property. His motion also called for asking for assistance to begin the process for how to consolidate city and county governments.

Weve got two governments and weve got one that taxes its people not one dime and they take two helpings out of LOST and SPLOST Pichon said referring to the city of Dawsonville.

To become a unified government an act would have to be approved by state legislature, Homans said after the meeting. If the act is passed at a state level it would be up to voters in the city and county to determine if it is something they want.

State legislators Rep. Kevin Tanner, Sen. Steve Gooch and Speaker of the House David Ralston would be the delegates to bring the unified government possibility to the state level.

Tanner said he would want to make sure unified government is something both the city and county have an interest in pursuing before moving forward. I would encourage them (city council and board of commissioners) to work together and develop a plan they both agree to then at that point local delegation would need to sit down to discuss how to move forward. Tanner said he also hoped both entities would seek the communitys take on government consolidation. I would also encourage them to have an open dialogue with the community to determine if this is something that the community has an interest in. If local legislation were to move forward it would obviously need to be something the community shows interest in.

Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan said he doesnt foresee a unified government. The city will always be a city, he said. If it comes up for a vote I dont see the council voting for it.