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Budget includes employee pay increases
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For the first time in six years, Dawson County's proposed 2014 budget includes pay increases for employees.

Commission Chair Mike Berg presented the $21.66 million spending plan, which recommends a 2 percent cost of living raise for all full and part time staff, as well as salary adjustments based on a recent pay study that showed Dawson County salaries below the recommended minimum pay level compared to neighboring jurisdictions.

The plan also calls for performance increases for employees that go above and beyond in their duties. Berg said the salary changes would cost $551,682.

Berg also spoke briefly about ongoing contention with Sheriff Billy Carlisle, who earlier this year said he would fight the commission for salary increases for his employees.

Both sides have hired attorneys who met in attempts to negotiate through the process.

As recommended, the sheriff's portion of county funding is 28.6 percent of the general budget, according to Berg.

Through COLA and adjustments to minimums, the sheriff's office "will receive a salary increase of approximately $100,000," he said.

The proposed budget also recommends using $205,000 of the county's fund balance to replace 11 aging patrol cars and six county vehicles, based on the county's vehicle replacement policy.

That would leave about $3.8 million in the county's reserve fund balance, still within the recommended 15 to 25 percent range, Berg said.

Restoring funding to the Development Authority of Dawson County, which had been cut in recent years, is also recommended in the budget.

Commissioners are reviewing the proposed budget and can make suggestions, though it's likely any changes would be zero-based since they voted in July to keep the millage the same at 8.138 mills, with no increase and no roll-up.

Two public hearings are required before the commission can adopt the budget. The hearings, which are open to the public, are set for 6 p.m. Nov. 6 and Nov. 20 in the assembly room at the Dawson County Government Center, 25 Justice Way in Dawsonville.