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City council prioritizes SPLOST spending plan
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The Dawsonville City Council on Monday voted to prioritize projects that will be funded as special purpose local option sales tax dollars roll in.

A park set to go in behind city hall, moving forward with the downtown revitalization plan and sidewalks for better connectivity and safety were approved to top the list. The vote also included the request for monthly updates on each project.

Councilman Jason Power made the motion to move forward with the priority list.

"As a unified council, I think it's just very positive that everybody's working together to get these main projects done inside the city, because I think it's going to change the dynamics of the city substantially," he said. "We're creating some things that people are really going to enjoy. I think this is going to enrich everything that we've got."

Also approved was the monthly allocation of $15,500 for payments on two city loans. The city is currently paying $11,802 monthly on the Dawsonville Municipal Complex building and $3,729 each month on the land purchased for the park.

Projections indicate the 1 cent tax extension could generate an estimated $45.3 million over six years with 15 percent (or as much as $9.6 million) for Dawsonville projects.

The city's first SPLOST check totaled more than $86,000, according to Mayor Pro-tem Angie Smith, who conducted the meeting in Mayor James Grogan's absence.

"We want to make the biggest impact with the SPLOST dollars we have coming in that we can. When these projects get finished ... these changes will be the biggest changes that have happened to this city in my lifetime," she said. "And our businesses need that. Our property owners need that change."

City Councilman Mike Sosebee was critical of moving forward with spending money on downtown revitalization.

"To fix one end of town ... and leave some stuff other places that's not nice, I think you're wasting your money," he said.

Smith countered that there has to be a starting point and someone to make that move.

"We, being the city council and the leaders in the city, I think what we've chosen to do is be the ones to start. We start the revitalization process," she said. "We start things looking better and hopefully it's a domino effect for not only property owners, but everybody to take an interest in revitalization of the downtown area."

Councilmembers hope to be able to showcase some of those changes within the next year, but caution that the visible landscape won't appear overnight.

"There are so many variables. Patience is one thing we ask of the public," Smith said. "The monthly updates will also help, so we can talk about what's been done and where the projects are."