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Dawsonville City Council discusses CARES funding, millage rate
City hall

At the Aug. 3 scheduled meeting of the Dawsonville City Council, council members discussed funding related to the Coronavirus Relief Fund Grant Expenditures (CARES) Act and millage rate, which will be voted on at the next council meeting. 

State funding from the CARES Act will be distributed in three phases, the first of which was given to the city last week. 

“I’m happy to report that we got the first round of funding last week, and it was right at about $51,000 of our $169,000 allocation,” Dawsonville Finance Administrator Hayden Wiggins said. “We’re still trying to work through when we get the rest of the funds, but the second phase will probably be in about 2 to 3 months and then the third phase I guess would be about 5 to 6 months.” 

The funds have to be spent in accordance with state law for things that are approved under the CARES Act. This includes items such as personal protection equipment (PPE) like masks and face shields, hand sanitizer and services such as fogging public areas to disinfect them. 

According to Wiggins, the city has spent between $30,000 and $40,000 so far on CARES Act approved purchases. 

“We’ve used it for more PPE, we’ve paid for City Hall to get fogged a couple times and we’ve bought a bunch of social distancing signs, things along those lines,” Wiggins said. 

Dawsonville Mayor Mike Eason added that the money has also been spent on sanitizing public areas such as the city’s farmers’ market or Main Street Park. 

“We bought a fogger, so we got that in last week and we’re going to be fogging the farmer’s market and the playground and some other things as well,” Eason said. “We also put foot handles on the doors to the public restrooms and put in touchless faucets for all the public access areas and our city areas.” 

Some of the money spent on these items was already in the city’s budget for the fiscal year, but not all of it was, which is where the CARES funding comes in. 

“When we were budgeting, it was in the onset of the pandemic, so we were thinking about budgeting a little bit for this stuff, but I would say the vast majority of it was not budgeted,” Wiggins said. “There are some expenditures that we just have an estimation but we don’t have an actual concrete number yet, but they’re things that we’re planning to do in the future.”

The funding given to the city through the CARES Act will be added as an amendment to the existing city budget for the year. 

“How it will affect the budget is after we get our final CARES Act we’ll put it in as a budget amendment for the fiscal year budget,” Wiggins said.

Upon the recommendation of City Attorney Dana Miles, the council members voted to approve the expenditures that have been made so far and to approve the rest of the budget for the CARES funding as laid out by Wiggins. 

“Since most of this was not approved at the time the council approved the budget, I think it would be appropriate for the council to ratify the current expenditures and approve the rest of the budget now,” Miles said. 

The council members approved the funds that have been spent so far as well as the projected budget and will remain involved in upcoming decisions for the funds as more CARES money is received. 

The council also briefly discussed the city millage rate at their meeting. 

“I calculated out the millage rate for what it would be if we weren’t able to get the local option sales tax, and it came out to be 8.51 mils,” Wiggins said, “and I’m recommending that y’all roll that back for this upcoming year.” 

According to Wiggins, the millage rate has been been rolled back for as long as he’s known, or for at least 25 years. 

“Hopefully that will be our finding at the meeting on Aug. 17,” Eason said. “We’ll discuss it again then once the advertisements come out and everything is in proper order by that time.” 

The next city council meeting will be on Aug. 17 at 5 p.m., in person at city hall or live streamed online via the city’s Facebook page.