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Government center is officially paid off
GNUU Screen shot 2015 07 08 at 10.09.53 AM
Bond Burning

Folks in Washington, D.C., can take a lesson from Dawson County government, which plans to burn the $48.4 million bond issued to build its government center.

The 111,000-square-foot structure, which opened January 2012, is officially paid off.

The bond burning symbolizes the strong financial responsibility Dawson County government has taken to be good stewards of tax dollars, said Commission Chairman Mike Berg. It is estimated that 80 percent or more of this money came from people outside the county that shop in Dawson.

Final costs on the government center were $38 million, with an additional $10.4 million in interest payments, according to Berg.

All county government offices were brought together under one roof after years of residents having to visit multiple locations to get business done.

The facility allowed us to combine space, lower rent and utilities costs, Berg said.

More than 800 tons of steel were used with walls of 8-inch thick concrete. From ground to dome, the structure is 110-feet tall.

House Rep. Kevin Tanner at the time served as county manager.

We waited to solicit bids until the price of steel hit the lowest point it had been at in years to ensure the best possible pricing, he said. We also established a sinking investment fund with a portion of the bond money so that when the monthly SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) collection fell short, we would be able to pull from those investments.

It was an effective strategy as the economy deteriorated rapidly and tax collections dropped significantly.

A lot of work went into making the government center a reality, from the board of commissioners, the judges and all other elected officials, Tanner said. I especially want to thank the outstanding staff I had the pleasure of working with in Dawson County. Without their efforts (the bond burning) would not be possible.

The government center includes all county offices, four courtrooms, tax assessors office, tax commissioner, sheriffs office services division, grand jury room, an assembly room, and magistrate court, probate court and superior court.

In 2007, voters approved a 1-cent SPLOST V for the government center by more than 87 percent.

Dawson County now has about $3.7 million in debt, including $2.9 million for an Etowah Water and Sewer Authority bond, and $835,243 for fire truck leases, according to Dena Boston, Dawson Countys chief financial officer.

The public is invited to attend the bond burning ceremony on July 16 at the Dawson County Government Center, 25 Justice Way, Dawsonville. A ceremony and celebration reception will be held following the 6 p.m. board of commissioners voting session.