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Commission chair gives state of county address
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Dawson County Commission Chairman Mike Berg encouraged members of the business community to take part in making Dawson County all it can be by talking to others about the county.

"The more we're able to get out and talk about who we are, the more likely business will want to expand here or move here," Berg said when he spoke during the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce membership luncheon last week.

In his annual State of the County address, Berg outlined major issues Dawson County is currently facing, including decreasing tax revenue that he anticipates will continue for several years to come.

"Last year, we had a $21.8 million budget. This year we're at $20.9. That's a drop of between $800,000 and 900,000," he said. "Five years ago, we had planned a $30 million budget by this year."

He cited employee health care, fuel costs and a more than 10.5 percent overall decrease in revenue from recent residential tax assessments as having the most impact on the county's operating budget.

"Property taxes have affected us a lot. Next year, we'll reappraise commercial property and then we'll see another $400,000 to $600,000 reduction," he said.

In preparing the county's 2012 budget, which was approved Sept. 1 and does not include a millage rate hike, Berg said each county department and government subsidiary were asked to cut their operating budgets by 5 percent.

"This is in addition to the cuts we've been asking for the last few years," he said.

Organizations like the health department, library, chamber of commerce and development authority each took drastic cuts.

County employees, he said, also shouldn't expect cost of living increases for another couple years.

But there is a bright side to the picture, Berg promised, adding the county has seen increases in both LOST and SPLOST revenues in recent months.

"It's going to take us a long time, but we'll work through this," he said. "Our only major revenue is from businesses expanding and coming into our county."

Improving transportation is a step in the right direction, he said.

"We don't spend a lot of money on roads and roads don't get better with age," he said. "Businesses won't come here if they can't get around."

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