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Transfer station fees upped
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Fees will increase at Dawson Countys transfer station following action March 21 by the board of commissioners.

After two motions were presented and failed, District Two Commissioner James Swafford made a motion that all non-bagged items be weighed and charged at $35 per ton. Plastic bags under 50 gallons will be 50 cents per bag.

Dawson County government entities would be the only ones exempt from the charges.

District One Commissioner Gary Pichon made the original motion, with the same parameters except he suggested non-bagged items be weighed in at $32 per ton, which is the same amount recommended by the public works department.

Julie Hughes Nix, commissioner for district four, countered that by suggesting the rate should be $37.50 a ton. When that motion failed for lack of second, Swafford suggested a happy medium of $35.

We do provide a service, he said. I dont want the county to be in the business competing with private industry, but its kind of a fine line here when they provide a service, and we provide a service.

Andy Wallace, owner of 400 Waste & Scrap LLC, spoke earlier about the proposed fee change, which was at $32 per ton. It will put the county as competing against me for trash, he said. I dont know where they get their numbers as far as $28, or $32, a ton. Its kind of preposterous, because I know what it costs to get rid of things.

Following the vote, Wallace called the $35 fee fair.

Its still under my published rate, but Im not going to squabble over it, he said. Im satisfied with it.

Director of Public Works and Transportation David Headley also called the $35 rate a happy medium. Commission Chairman Mike Berg pointed out that if the fees dont work, they can always be changed.

We dont have this set in stone, Pichon agreed. If he comes back two to three months and says we need to change, then we can change.

Before the vote, Engineering Director Corey Gutherie clarified some points that had been made during a commissioners work session March 14; he also explained how the transfer station has been losing money. For example, he said, a truck hauling 6.5 tons paid $50 under the old fee structure. The proposed fee structure (which was at $32 per ton) would have meant the truck would pay $208.

At the now-approved $35 per ton, the truck would pay $227.50.

Alcohol license hearing

Representatives from Lorenas Food & Spirits were at the meeting for an alcohol license suspension hearing. Officials said Lorenas violated a county ordinance requiring that the sale of alcohol at an establishment not exceed 50 percent of total sales annually.

For 2012, the percentage of alcohol sales that were reported by Lorenas was at 51.3 percent.

Lorena Adkins, owner of the restaurant, told the commissioners that the numbers were off, due to clerical errors on the part of the restaurant. She said that, because of the software system the restaurant uses to keep track of sales, all beverage sales were being counted as bar sales. This included non-alcoholic drinks, such as water, coffee and soft drinks.

After deliberating privately for approximately 10 minutes, the commissioners voted to postpone the hearing until May 2, to allow the owner time to conduct a private audit and submit the complete and accurate numbers of total alcohol transaction sales. The final numbers are due to the county on April 22.

They want an audit and Im going to provide that, Adkins said following the meeting. Its a new computer system, all wireless, and there are some things that we need to work out on it.

Adkins said that she is confident the audit will resolve the issues. Its a clerical error, and I think they (the commissioners) understand that, she said.

Land Use Plan

Over the next two-and-a-half weeks, Director of Planning and Development David McKee is expected to develop a group of stakeholders to comment on the countys Future Land Use Plan, as approved by the commissioners.

McKee wants to have the plan updates completed and approved by both the states Department of Community Affairs and the countys commissioners by the end of this year. Its a fairly aggressive schedule, but I absolutely think its doable, McKee said.

Two elected officials from the Dawsonville City Council are expected to be a part of the stakeholder meetings. I think we have to look at each others (land use plans) together, and see what each other has to offer, said Mayor James Grogan. We are more than willing to participate in this activity.

The current plan was previously adopted in 2008. McKee explained that the county does not need to update its plan at this time, but the Georgia Department of Community Affairs would require the plan to be updated by 2018.

Also at the March 21 voting session:

The commissioners approved moving forward against Comfort Inn in Magistrate Court, for delinquent taxes owed. The company owes $1,774.76 in penalties and interest. County Chief Financial Officer Dena Bosten said the business has paid all taxes owed. They have expressed that they want to pay (the fees), Bosten said.

The commissioners approved going ahead with plans for Carlisle Road: taking of property for right-of-way, permanent easements and temporary easements. In the March 14 work session, County Attorney Joey Homans said that many of the property owners were expected to sign over their property rights over the next couple of weeks.

A commissioners work session is scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday, March 28, in the Assembly Room at the Government Center. Topics include a proposal regarding emergency services uniforms, and an Etowah River Water Trail Resolution.