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Budget presented to commissioners
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After six years without raises, county employees may soon see a slight bump in their pay.

Thats because last week, Dawson County Board of Commissioners Chair Mike Berg presented to the commissioners his proposed budget for the 2015-2017 fiscal years, a budget that calls for pay raises. If approved by the commissioners, the total budget for 2015 will be set at $21.66 million. The countys millage rate will remain at 8.138.

Employee raises

Bergs budget recommendation included a two percent cost-of-living raise for all full- and part-time county employees.

Weve just had six years without giving folks anything, and that has to change, Berg said.

In addition to the cost-of-living increase, Berg recommended that some employees salaries--those that are below what are considered a minimum range in a recent salary study--be brought up to reach that minimum.

After all employees are brought up to what the study reflects as the minimum standard, Berg recommends giving raises based on performance.

The cost to give two percent raises and to bring all salaries to a minimum target range will be $431,682, Berg said. He also recommended setting aside $120,000 for pay-per-performance reviews.

Berg recommended that three employees go from part-time to full-time status, plus adding two new full-time positions: a Storm Water/Plan review engineer, with a salary of $64,844, and a tax appraiser, with a salary of $40,281.

We fell into an urban area by the 2010 census from Highway 53 down, which means we now have to have a storm-water management plan, Berg said. The engineer will also be responsible for area surveys and inspections.

Development Authority

Berg also recommended restoring the Dawson County Development Authority to its funding of $150,000. Last year, the board approved restoring $75,000 of the amount. But Berg said its time to give the authority back all of the money it used to receive. Over the last year, through the Development Authority, he said, well see some 400-plus jobs created and millions in business created on the 400 corridor. Theres a lot of activity on (Georgia) 400.

Sheriffs Office

Because Sheriff Billy Carlisle has hired an attorney for his departments budget negotiations, the county has also sought out an attorney. That means complete budget recommendations were not ready to be presented at the work session on Thursday.

According to Berg, the meetings between the county and the sheriff have been congenial. Theyve been positive, he said. In fact, weve been able to talk to each other, so theres been no animosity with us. Theyve (the attorneys) worked well. ... I think the last thing Billy or I want to do is see us get into a court situation. Wed much prefer to figure this out and move on.

Berg said he is recommending 28.6 percent of the total general fund budget to go toward the sheriffs department. The three major items requested from the sheriff are: cars, personnel and pay raises.

Berg said he is recommending 11 leased vehicles for the sheriffs department. Included with the countys cost-of-living raises and adjustments to salary minimums, Berg said the sheriff would receive approximately $100,000 for raises.

Other recommendations

Berg also made several other recommendations for next years budget, including 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 total cost of those recommendations comes to $95,142.

Berg complimented county personnel for being fiscally responsible with taxpayer money. Were responsible for taking the tax dollars of the citizens and spending them for things they need, but cant buy individually. As long as we stay in that curve, were doing well.

Commissioner Gary Pichon noted that when compared to other counties, Dawson is on the healthy side of spending. I guess looking at the numbers overall, what is our spend-per-number of citizens in the county and how does that compare to other counties? Pichon said. It says to me that in our county we are not on the poor side, we are spending pretty good money per citizen. Per the number of citizens we have we are on the healthy side of spending.

Berg responded that the county can do so because of the tax base from businesses in the 400 corridor.

Two public hearings are planned for the upcoming budget. The first hearing is Nov. 6 at 6 p.m. The second hearing is Nov. 20 at 6 p.m. The board is expected to adopt the budget on Nov. 20.

The budget is available for viewing on the countys website. You may visit www.dawsoncounty.org. On the countys homepage, select the finance department under the Departments tab.

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