The Dawsonville city council voted Monday night not to impose a property tax on citizens, keeping in tradition with decades of not levying a millage rate.
The city continues to rely on its share of LOST and SPLOST proceeds as well as fees for services in order to operate.
Finance Administrator Hayden Wiggins presented the council with the millage rate the city would charge if it felt the need to collect property taxes.
“We’re fortunate enough that we have our LOST proceeds so that we don’t have to levy a city tax,” Wiggins said. “But if we didn’t have the LOST proceeds it would result in a millage rate of 8.96 mils.”
Wiggins presented an example that if a resident had a house that was worth $250,000, they would take the taxable value of 40 percent, which would be $100,000, and multiply it by the 8.96 mils. That would result in a tax bill of $896.
“I’m recommending to roll the millage rate back and not levy a tax this current fiscal year,” Wiggins said.
The council voted unanimously to roll its millage rate back to zero for the upcoming year.
Dawsonville residents still must pay county property taxes, but the last municipal property tax was over 30 years ago.
Mayor Mike Eason stated that the city’s $5.7 million budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year was planned based on the LOST money continuing to come in at the rate it has been.
Council member Mark French suggested that Wiggins publish the city’s five-year millage history in the paper, like the county and school board do.
“Most governments who do not have this advantage of living off their sales tax monies has to publish a five-year millage history in their local paper, I wonder if perhaps we could consider doing that showing the rollback so that the citizens have a better idea of just how much money we are saving them each year utilizing these funds,” French said.
In other business:
New planning director
The council also welcomed Robbie Irvin in the role of planning director, a role he assumed July 25, replacing former director Casey Majewski. Irvin previously worked for Dawson County government for 19 years, most recently as a plan review manager in the planning and development department.
“I’m very thrilled to be here, I’ve told several people it's one of the best career decisions I’ve ever made,” Irvin said. “I look forward to a long working relationship with all of you.”
The city is also hiring a new part time permit technician for the department.
Public comment procedure approved
The council also unanimously voted Monday to approve new public comment procedures.
According to the new procedures, a public input session will be held at both the council’s regular meetings and during work sessions. Those wishing to speak must fill out a public input request form and return it to the city clerk prior to or during each meeting.
Twenty minutes will be allocated during each meeting for the public to speak with no more than five minutes per speaker.
The procedures also state that if the agenda is amended at any time following its initial approval at the start of meetings, an additional public input section will be added prior to action being taken on any new item placed on the agenda.
“I’d like to thank the council for their passing of a public comment policy this evening,” French said. “While it differs a little bit from what I originally proposed I think it's something I can live with.”
French asked that the policy be amended to include the stipulation that the city have a uniformed law enforcement officer present during hearings at a cost of $2,000 a year.
“In lieu of the fact that earlier this year we spent $18,000 to repair our blinds I think we can afford roughly $2,000 a year for this,” French said.
Council member Caleb Phillips said he did not want to amend the policy until the city had confirmed that Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson could send the officers to attend.
Main Street Park, farmers market and food trucks
Also at the meeting City Manager Bob Bolz presented updates on Main Street Park and the farmers market.
Bolz said that phase one on the park is well underway and that crews are working on stormwater and utilities installation.
“I have met or am meeting with a total of six playground companies for designs and bids,” Bolz said. “We met with a really good one today that also does amphitheaters, stages and picnic pavilions so we’re real excited about that process.”
Bolz said he also has a meeting with Davis Engineering scheduled to begin discussions on designing a landscape plan for the park in phases, so that as construction is finished, landscaping will immediately follow.
Bolz also said that demolition at the farmers market site on Allen Street started on Monday. Two homes on the property will have to be demolished and the land cleared before the pavillion, parking spaces and restrooms can be put in.
“We received this afternoon the engineered plan for the farmers market so now we’ll be able to start reviewing that and get it out to bid very quickly,” Bolz said.
Bolz also reminded the council of planned food truck nights, scheduled for 5 to 9 p.m. Aug. 17, Sept. 14, Oct. 5, Nov. 2 and as part of the Christmas tree lighting festivities Dec. 1.