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Budget, sludge to top commission agenda
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The county's 2013 spending plan and a proposal that would ban a certain type of sewage application are top agenda items for tomorrow's county commission meeting.

This will be the final chance for the public to make comments on Dawson County's proposed 2013 budget and the first opportunity to address an ordinance intended to stop the application of Class B partially treated sewage sludge.

The hearings are open to the public and begin at 6 p.m. in the assembly room at the Dawson County Government Center, 25 Justice Way in Dawsonville.

Commission Chair Mike Berg presented the nearly $21 million preliminary plan, which limits spending to critical capital needs, during an Aug. 9 work session.

In addition to replacing four aging sheriff patrol cars and partially funding a new ambulance, the budget includes funds to upgrade the E-911 system and an increase for road repairs.

It also calls for restoring $75,000 in funding to the Development Authority of Dawson County, a portion of which was cut from the budget last year.

Berg has also recommended a $16,500 reduction in hotel/motel tax revenue for the chamber of commerce and $15,000 for the health department, while increasing funding by $6,000 to the humane society and $5,100 to the department of family and children services.

"It's always easy to do a budget when there's money coming in," Berg said last month. "It's always difficult to do a budget when there's no money coming. And for the last three years, there's been no money coming in, so this was a difficult budget."

The proposed sludge ordinance came about after developer Ken Curren asked the state Environmental Protection Division to amend the Hampton Creek Water Reclamation Facility sludge management plan.

Approval would allow Curren to deposit partially treated liquid waste from the Forsyth County plant to on about 65 acres at Lumpkin Campground and Harry Sosebee roads in Dawson County.

Dawson County Attorney Joey Homans drafted the proposed ordinance, which cites the nation's Clean Water Act that "permits local governments to determine the manner" sludge can be deposited.

Opponents to the application have collected more than 2,000 signatures, according to Jane Graves, president of the Dawson County Homeowner's and Civic Association.

Additionally, more than 200 people who live near the proposed dumping site, as well as other concerned residents and business leaders, attended an information gathering session the county commission held last month.

Among their concerns were potential pathogens seeping into the water supply and diminishing property values if the application is approved.

Curren met with neighboring property owners in July to discuss his plans, which call for applying 55 dry tons of liquid Class B biosolids annually on the 160-acre tract that was initially zoned for a residential subdivision.

According to EPD's Web site, Class B biosolids are treated but still contain detectible levels of pathogens.