The 2013 county budget, slightly down from 2012, was approved by Dawson County commissioners at their Sept. 6 meeting.
District Two Commissioner James Swafford moved to approve the budget as presented, with two amendments. First, he added $25,000 to the sheriffs budget for maintenance and repairs. Swaffords second amendment was $20,000 for a part-time position in the tax commissioners office. He recommended that the $45,000 come from the reserve fund.
District Four Commissioner Julie Hughes Nix seconded the motion, and the budget passed.
Chairman Mike Berg explained that the $25,000 for vehicle repair and maintenance was accidentally omitted from the budget proposal. When I originally looked at the budget, they had not spent any money on vehicle maintenance, he said. And if you dont spend any money, I cut it out.
The part-time position for the tax commissioners office was added because the office lost three positions over the last few months, Berg said.
Then he asked for any additional amendments to the budget.
Id like to make an amendment, District Three Commissioner Jimmy Hamby said, to cut $75,000 from the Development Authority and place it back into fund balance. Nix seconded the motion.
The Development Authority of Dawson County was not funded in the 2012 budget. In 2011, the authority received more than $150,000 from the county, and had requested $108,910 for 2013. Berg had suggested partially restoring the funding in 2013 at $75,000 in his proposed budget.
We dont want to give the impression to anybody thats coming into our county that we are against business, Berg cautioned before calling for a vote on the amendment. This county is very pro-business. The Development Authority has been very pro-business. We want businesses to come in. We want that tax.
No other comments were made, and the vote was unanimous, though District One Commissioner Gary Pichon was absent. The final 2013 budget comes in at $20,880,243, up from the budgeted $20,902,956 for 2012.
The 2013 budget, which Berg presented at the Aug. 9 BOC work session, is a slight increase over the 2012 figures. Notably, it cuts $16,500 from the Chamber of Commerce, and $15,000 to the Health Department.
Chamber President Christie Haynes spoke at the public hearing prior to the vote on the budget.
(The Chamber) is in a time where we really think there are some great opportunities over the next year, she said, requesting that the commissioners consider adding back in the funding for the Chamber.
Haynes presented information from the Georgia Department of Economic Development, saying that in 2010, tourism in the county generated just over $36 million, and supported more than 400 jobs. We do not have 2011 numbers yet, but I guarantee they are higher than in 2010, she said. My goal is to raise even more than that for you.
Other than Haynes, Development Authority Chairman Peter Hill spoke at the public hearing.
I think the $75,000 in the budget is a good investment in our community, he said, because what it does is, it stokes the economic engine of Dawson County.
He went on to compare the Development Authority to the countys marketing department. If youre firing the marketing department to pay your bills today, then tomorrow will probably be worse, he said. Because if were not marketing, if were not doing outreach for our community, for our county, then what hope do you have to gain revenue next year? Or the year after that, or the year after that? So I think it is a wise investment to fund our Development Authority. I think it sends the wrong message to our community and to those outside our community when we dont fund the Development Authority.
No one else spoke at the second public hearing, either for or against anything in the budget. The first public hearing was held Aug. 16.