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Tourism office, commission swap hotel/motel funds
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The Dawson County Office of Tourism will be able to pay its rent.

Dawson County Board of Commissioners and the Dawson County Office of Tourism agreed Thursday night to swap funds that can be used to pay rent with money that can be used only to promote tourism.

Last week, Chamber of Commerce President Christie Haynes approached the board with a one-time request to increase the allotment the Office of Tourism receives to roughly $40,000, with $20,000 being paid in the 2014 fiscal year and the other half in the 2015 fiscal year.

The request for the increase followed an audit of the chamber of commerce and Office of Tourism. The audit said that the Office of Tourism cannot continue to pay rent to the chamber with restricted hotel/motel tax money as it had been doing for the past year and a half.

The audit was performed by Rushton & Co., the same firm who performs audits for the county.

After hearing concerns from the board, Haynes and county officials met last week to find another solution to the rent problems.

That solution, Dawson Countys Chief Financial Officer Dena Bosten said to the commissioners, would mean no change in the dollar amount or percentage allocation to either entity. It would mean the same for both entities. However, it would change how each entity could spend its allocation.

Bostens alternative solution was to amend the 2014 budget to allow 1.5 percent of the countys unrestricted hotel/motel tax to go to the tourism office. In exchange, the tourism office would allocate 1.5 percent of its restricted hotel/motel tax back to the county.

Dawson County Board Chair Mike Berg said he thought the solution would make everyone happy.

In essence, no money switches hands, Berg said. It is a paper transfer of 1.5 (percent) restricted and unrestricted so we can each do what we need to do.

Commissioner James Swafford made a motion to approve the one-time request. It was seconded by Jimmy Hamby. Since Commissioner Julie Hughes-Nix was absent, Berg also voted in support of the request. Commissioner Gary Pichon voted no.

Haynes said she was happy with the boards decision.

We are grateful to the commission for the agreement that was approved last Thursday, she said. We think it was the perfect solution because no additional funds or tax dollars were used. It was a simple change in accounting.

Also at Thursdays vote session:

The commission voted to approve a zoning request by Planning and Zoning Director David McKee for 82.54 acres from commercial planned comprehensive development (C-PCD) to residential agricultural (RA). The property is located near Dawson Forest and had been zoned C-PCD in 2004 for a mixed use development of cottages, a church and retail site and a daycare site. McKee said the development was never constructed.

The commission voted to adopt its millage rate for the 2014-2015 fiscal year. The rate of 8.138 percent is the same rate as last year. However, because many residents properties were assessed at a higher value, homeowners will see an increase in their property tax bills. Homes with the fair market value of $200,000 will see an increase of about $52.64. A home valued at $175,000 will see an estimated increase of $45.50.

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