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City council decision delays economic grant
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Potential Dawsonville businesses may have to wait another few weeks to take advantage of an economic development grant being proposed by the city.

While the number is currently a placeholder, the resolution would set aside $25,000 annually to pay for new, qualifying businesses' rent for a year.

The Dawsonville City Council voted Monday to delay making a decision on the grant until its June 1 meeting.

"I've talked to several [Dawsonville Downtown Development Authority (DDA)] members and they...have a lot of questions about [the grant]," said Councilwoman Angie Smith.

"They aren't comfortable going forward without a full understanding of this process first."

The grant resolution, according to City Attorney Dana Miles, is in accordance with the council's requests from the April 20 work session and is currently in draft form.

"We still have to put together a package as far as guidelines for applicants," said Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan. "Right now, we're just asking for money to be set aside at this point."

But Smith still had reservations.

"The resolution says that the DDA would be in charge of creating these guidelines," Smith said. "Or are we setting those? I'm asking because the members of the DDA that I have spoken to are unclear about this process and what they are being asked to do."

Some of the guidelines suggested in the resolution draft include job creation and businesses to help create other businesses.

The businesses would also have to fill out grant documentation and written requests.

"The grant program will be administered by the Downtown Development Authority. It is required by state law to only be used to fund projects," Miles said. "Projects are defined, by state law, as something that fits the DDA's guidelines. We have suggested some in the draft, but it will be up to them to come up with a definite set."

The same issue came up during the May 4 city council meeting as well, with Smith asking for the council to delay the vote until the DDA could be spoken with.

"Two weeks ago, I said I would like to talk to some of the DDA members and get a feel for where they were with this program," Smith said. "I talked to a couple of them and they don't have a feel for it."

Grogan tried to assuage Smith's concerns by offering to speak with the DDA chair regarding the program.

"I will get with the DDA chairman and we'll go through this thing together and get Dana involved," he said. "We'll figure out how the DDA will implement this. We'll come back next meeting and review this again. Then, hopefully, we'll have a vote at that time."

While Smith said she was in favor of the program as it stands, she wanted to make sure that all parties involved knew what the program was about before being saddled with it.

"It's my opinion that, if we are going to put this program on the DDA, before we approve it, the DDA needs to be fully aware and know exactly what they are doing, She said. "From my conversations with some members, right now, they are not."

In other news: The city voted to purchase 0.75 acres of land at 124 Allen St., adjacent to city hall. The city purchased the property for $12,000 through the county tax sale in order to "shore up land around city hall," according to Grogan.