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Five things from Thursday's county commission meeting
FB DCN Government County

The Dawson County Board of Commissioners last night voted to approve purchases of a new Computer Aided Dispatch system for E-911 and to ratify an agreement that will transfer the operation of Fire Station 8 to Pickens County, among other items.

County to update current E-911 computer system

Purchasing Director Melissa Hawk presented a proposal to upgrade the county’s current Computer Aided Dispatch, or CAD system, in order to fix issues that sheriff’s office staff have been dealing with for several years in regards to 911 calls and dispatch.

Hawk presented a quote for a sole source exemption, meaning the county would not have to follow the requirements for a bid process in order to purchase an upgrade to the county’s currently owned system.

The board voted unanimously Jan. 17 to purchase the upgrade at a cost of $421,260.15.

After inquiring with other counties about their systems and several meetings including Hawk, E-911 Director Aleisha Rucker-Wright and representatives from the sheriff’s office, emergency services and IT, the group decided that working with InterAct-Caliber to upgrade the existing system was the best option.

Rucker said Dec. 17 that if the county were to sign a contract with InterAct-Caliber at the end of January or beginning of February, the county could expect an implementation date no later than August.

E-911 communications officers will also be trained to use the new system as part of the contract, and the county will not have to fund the upgrades all at one time.

Finance Director Vickie Neikirk recommended that the funds come out of fund balance instead of the capital projects fund, which would be depleted by the purchase.

“Since we have a healthy fund balance and it looks like we’re going to add to it for 2018, my recommendation would be to take it from fund balance,” she said.

The county has  been working to obtain quotes for the CAD system for over a year and a half.

The board previously approved setting aside $260,000 for the upgrade in the 2018 budget, with the hopes of supplementing those funds with federal grant money.

Updated intergovernmental agreement with Pickens County approved

The commission voted unanimously to ratify a revised intergovernmental agreement, or IGA, with Pickens County that details the operations and management of Fire Station 8 moving forward.

The IGA makes it so that the station is no longer operated by Dawson County but by Pickens County. Dawson has operated and maintained the station and employed volunteer support staff at the station since it was constructed in 2009 as a joint project between the two counties.

The station services the Wildcat Community, which was organized in 2006 with the goal of establishing emergency services for the more than 700 homes in the Burnt Mountain area. The homes are located in both Dawson and Pickens counties.

A series of events at the end of last year resulted in 12 of 13 volunteer support staff resigning from their positions and intimating that they wished to be trained by Pickens County, a move that would violate the terms of the existing IGA. The two boards of commissioners worked to draft a new agreement that would resolve the issue and benefit both counties.

Chairman Billy Thurmond said Dec.10  that he had discussed the agreement with Pickens County Commission Chairman Rob Jones and with Emergency Services Director Danny Thompson, and that the Pickens BOC had already voted to adopt the agreement.

“Chairman Jones and I have met on several occasions with the same goal in mind, and that was to make sure that we protected the citizens of that community regardless of whether they live in Dawson or Pickens,” Thurmond said. “We went back and forth on two or three drafts and today before you you have a draft that he and I have looked at and we believe represents what we are trying to do for that community.”

Thompson is currently working to make an amendments to the Automatic Aid Agreement that exists between Dawson and Pickens counties currently and which is referenced in the IGA but is itself a separate agreement, to ensure there is consistency between the two documents.

The other board members did not make any comments about the revised agreement.

County manager can now approve purchases over $25,000

The board voted unanimously to approve updates to the county purchasing policy, including an update that will give the county manager permission to approve purchases over $25,000 that have already been approved by the board when they set the yearly budget.

Commission Chairman Billy Thurmond proposed the idea, stating that the change would increase efficiency.

“If you look at tonight’s agenda, we’re buying a $31,000 gravel spreader, that’s something that is approved in SPLOST VI, that’s something that could have already been signed off on and we would probably have  that piece of equipment but now we’re still looking at 30 days out trying to get a piece of equipment we would already have if the county manager could sign off on something as simple as that in my mind,” Thurmond said.

Previously, the county manager had authority to approve purchases up to $25,000, but if the cost was a penny more, the item would have to go before the board for a vote. If a pre-approved purchase will be more than what was outlined in the budget, it must also go before the board.

Comprehensive plan tabled again

The board again voted to table a decision on a proposed comprehensive plan, which must be updated every five years in order for the county to retain its Certified Local Government Status.

Commissioners are waiting for the future land use element to be finalized correctly until they vote to approve it.

Approval has been tabled until Jan. 24.

Board approves purchase of rock gravel spreader

The board voted unanimously Jan. 17 to award a bid for a gravel rock spreader to Chandler Equipment Company out of Gainesville in the amount of $31,614.

In February 2018 the board approved $700,000 to be spent from SPLOST VI revenue on public works equipment, and so far $532,707 has been spent.

The county only received one bid for the spreader, which will be mounted onto a 2000 Mack Truck that the county owns already.

Public Works Director David McKee said that the purchase will extend the life of the truck and enable county crews to grade and gravel the county’s dirt roads.

“We have 90 miles of dirt roads...we add gravel to all the dirt roads when needed, primarily during the summer months,” McKee said. “What this will allow us to do is grade that road, apply an even coat of gravel on it, it will speed the process up.”

McKee said that with all of the rain the county has received this winter, several dirt roads have turned to mush and the spreader will allow for larger stones that can be pressed in with a roller to fix those issues. Also during the winter, the spreader can be used to put a salt and gravel mixture on roads prior to inclement weather events.

“It’s a multi-purpose body that we can use in many different ways,” McKee said.