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City revises then approves budget
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In a special called meeting on Monday, the City of Dawsonville approved a $2.66 million 2014-15 budget, which included last minute line item changes made for salary increases.

"This is not a merit based increase, but a salary adjustment based on the (county) pay study both of what the county is paying now and the county's recommendations," City Attorney Dana Miles told council members. " . . . Which as I understand it, almost across the board, the county was underpaying its employees, and most of our employees are at or under what the county is paying."

However, on Tuesday, County Commission Chair Mike Berg said the city hasn't seen the pay study.

"I shared with James (Mayor Grogan), verbally, the minimum and maximum for three jobs," Berg said. "I do not believe that everybody is underpaid. This was an exhaustive study. You can't match that study up with anybody else's title. You have to see if they have the same supervisor and the same work process.

"What I gave Mr. Grogan was a range of what we were looking at and the study has not been completed."

He expects the pay study results will be given to the county's constitutional officers within one to two weeks.

"We are forging ahead with what we are doing," Berg said.

During Monday's special called meeting, city council members Angie Smith and Chris Gaines expressed concern about passing the city's revised budget with the line item adjustments.

"We only found out about this a few days ago," Gaines said, indicating he needed more time. "Two weeks would be adequate for me."

Smith agreed.

"I understand Chris' point," she said. "This has just come up in the last few days as far as specific numbers."

Smith also pointed out that despite the line item adjustments, the budget remains neutral -- meaning there is no increase in expenditures.

However, there is a difference of $31,700 in the city's revenue between the proposed budget and the one council members approved.

City Clerk Bonnie Warne addressed the difference Tuesday via email.

"We have reevaluated the proposed revenue based on the income received and revenue anticipated to increase our General Fund to $1,298,815, which is the $31,700," she said. "The first calculation on the revenue was done in the beginning of April."

She specifically highlighted an increase in motor vehicle tax revenue, which was new in 2013-14, and the city had estimated its increase. Additional increase in revenue in LOST (local option sales tax), building and grading permit revenue due to the assisted living facility, and an "intangibles tax" were listed by Warne as reasons for the revenue increase.

Attorney Miles recommended the council approve the budget.

"I recommend you pass the budget today," he said. "It will be passed as presented. . . . The salary recommendation that the county shared with us would go into effect in July. You can make changes in August, or every month if you want to. . . . We should be ahead of the curve instead of behind it."

No one spoke for or against the budget during the public hearing portion of the meeting.

Council member Mike Sosebee made a motion the budget be passed. Jason Power seconded the motion, which was then approved unanimously.

Line item changes to the city's budget are:

Under expenditures in the general fund, three line items increased salaries by $10,480, $9,543, and $6,400, respectively, for a total increase of $26,423.

Under expenditures in the city's enterprise fund, one line item for salaries increased by $3,054.

Total increase for salaries in the approved 2014-2015 budget are $29,477.

Check the Dawson News & Advertiser next week for details on which line items decreased to help cover the new salaries.

The council will address pay increases for employees at its July 7 regularly scheduled meeting.

In other action items, the city:

Approved giving the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce $12,000 -- $1,000 per month for 12 months.

Approved amending its sign ordinances to clarify definitions, provisions and performance standards. Specifically, potential conflicts in section 105-3; clearing up definitions in 105-7, and clearing up who does what, according to City Attorney Dana Miles. "Now, the mayor or the mayor's designee will make decisions," Miles said.