Transportation, revenue and unemployment are all issues that the state and Dawson County share as the two entities try to weather the current economic climate.
Those issues also were key talking points at Dawson County Chairman Mike Bergs state of the county address at last weeks Dawson County Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
Earlier this month, the Dawson County Board of Commissioners approved its budget at a decrease of more than $1 million, due to decreased revenues following a drop in the countys tax digest.
During the budget process this year we asked all departments for a five percent reduction and we got really close to that, Berg said. We have been making reductions for the past few years.
Smaller budgets, or at best a leveling off, could be a trend that continues for several years to come - unless new revenue streams are created. Berg is looking to business as one of those streams.
We have seen some increase in Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) and Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), so there are some positive things happening, but its going to take a long time to get back to where we were, he said.
Were not going to be getting more property taxes, the legislature is going to make sure of that, Berg added. So, expanding current businesses and bringing in new businesses is going to be key to funding [the county] in the future, or peoples pockets will be affected.
The chairman is looking to local businesses, the chamber and the Development Authority of Dawson County to bring those businesses here.
its up to you, he said. Its who our businesses are able to hire and who you talk to around the state.
Unemployment in Dawson County was 10.5 percent last month, slightly above the state level, and underemployment is still an issue in the county.
I was taken by a comment Charlie Auvermann made about his son and his sons friends and how none of them work here after they graduate, Berg said. Because of their education, because of the ability to work higher paying jobs.
How do we fill that vacancy, that void? How do we get those types of jobs here? Berg asked. Thats our real challenge.
Approximately 80 to 85 percent of the work force leaves the county every day and nearly that same number comes here to work, according to Berg.