By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support local journalism.
Dawson County ADAs underpaid
5VKG Screen shot 2015 08 18 at 1.52.27 PM

Dawson County DA Lee Darragh told county commissioners he is losing staff members to higher paying jobs and needs money to pay a new assistant district attorney. Darraghs asked commissioners Thursday to unfreeze an assistant district attorney (ADA) position to help manage the growing caseload in Dawson County's courts.

Three of my younger ADAs stationed in Hall County, each with less than two years in office, left for significantly higher pay (40 percent and higher), Darragh said in an email after the meeting. One went to the federal government, one to a Gainesville firm, and another to a firm in Dekalb.

The goal of unfreezing the salaried ADA position is to free up money for a supplement that would fund a new state-paid position in Dawson County.

"Rather than asking for a fourth attorney to be paid solely and completely by Dawson County in next year's 2016 Fiscal year budget, I decided to place this new state paid position not in Hall County but in Dawson County, which would give me two state-aid attorneys with county supplements in Dawson County and two paid by Dawson County, Darragh said. Weve long needed a fourth attorney, and this is a good way to put the fourth attorney over here while saving Dawson County a good deal of money.

The request is for $5,000 for the juvenile court ADA position that would start immediately.

"It's a good deal for Dawson County, and it gives me the personnel I need to most effectively handle the criminal cases in Dawson County," he said.

A starting attorney earns roughly $43,000, which Darragah said isnt enough.

"I recently had four positions to fill," he said. "One was this brand new state paid position which I put here in Dawson County. One ADA left for $21,000 more, another left for $18,000 immediately and $12,000 more in a year to work for the federal government. The third one left for about a 40 percent raise about $18,000 to go to a local firm in Gainesville. He showed himself to be an excellent attorney while working for me, and they just snapped him up. They were willing to pay what he was worth. I need to keep the salaries at a reasonable level in order to have retention of my attorneys."

An assistant district attorneys caseload includes: probate court cases, traffic, misdemeanors, felonies, and juvenile cases.

This year the state legislature added on cases for Children in Need of Services (CHIN) cases.

Without funding, the state paid position would go to Hall County. Drag would request a new ADA in 2016 that would be fully paid for by Dawson County.

The board is scheduled to vote on the matter Thursday, Aug. 20, 6 p.m., in the Assembly Room of the Government Center, 25 Justice Way.

In other business Linda Townley, Dawson County tax commissioner, requested an ATM be placed in government center. A camera would be directed on it, and its exact location has yet to be determined. If approved and installed, it would be at no cost to the county, but there would be a $2.50 per transaction fee.

Dawson County Fire Chief Lanier Swafford requested the annual renewal of the EMPG grant used for payment of the county's emergency notification system. It is a 50/50 match totaling $14,398 and without the grant the county would have to fund the system's maintenance costs entirely.

A special event business license for MarineMax Boat Show was requested by Director of Planning and Zoning Rachel Burton. The event is planned for Sept. 18-28 and requires approval due to the tent size exceeding 1,000 square-foot. This is the second year MarineMax has requested to have the event in the county at Ga. 400 and Dawson County Industrial Park. A concern was raised by Commissioner James Swafford regarding unpaid taxes on the property and the matter was taken under advisement by the Marine Max representative.