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Development authority director resigns after commission cuts funds

The morning after the Dawson County Board of Commissioners voted to pass the 2018 budget without allocating $150,000 to the Development Authority of Dawson County, Charlie Auvermann resigned from his position as executive director. 

Part-time office administrator Mary Simmons also resigned.

Auvermann was a salaried employee appointed by the development authority board, and together with Simmons’ hourly pay, their salaries totaled over $100,000. Without funding from the county, the two salaries were no longer an expense the authority could shoulder.

The commission similarly voted last year not to allocate any funds to the authority after a disputed decision by the authority to issue a tax exemption to Kroger in December 2015 for the new marketplace location. Commissioners voiced their concern over not being consulted in the decision before cutting off the funding.

During a recent joint meeting, commissioners said they wanted the authority to become self-sufficient and not rely on taxpayer money to operate.

Authority board member Mike Ball said then that a study of the resources of surrounding development authorities showed the authority currently doesn't have access to any of them.   

"Either land was donated to the development authority and through selling that land they generated the funds, or there was a county-owned business park and the development authority would have a fee for every company they brought into the business park," Ball said. "Or it's straight out of the county budget, or they get a piece of SPLOST, or in some of the counties the employees of the development authority are county employees and on the county payroll."

The authority board discussed how it will move forward following the resignations and absence of funding at its Sept. 26 meeting. After an executive session the board voted to accept Auvermann’s resignation.

Auvermann also resigned as director of the Industrial Authority Board of Dawson County.

Board Member Tony Passarello said the focus of the board right now is to manage day to day operations, and that they will look for someone to fill the executive director position when the time comes.

"We're grateful for Charlie's leadership and service over the last decade," said authority Chair Dr. Sherry Weeks. "He's provided steady, professional management of the authority throughout that time, during which Dawson County witnessed exponential growth. All of us wish him well in this transition.

"Looking into the future, we're confident that we'll find someone who can further position Dawson County for the future by creating economic development opportunities for the county and region."

Auvermann could not be reached for comment as of press time.