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Commissioners approve 2016 spending plan
Commissioners approve 2016 spending plan
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Commissioners approved the county's 2016 spending plan last week with the addition of a $408,000 increase over what was initially proposed.

The majority of the increase will fund six new fire and emergency services personnel needed to staff Fire Station No. 3 on Harmony Church Road.

Currently a volunteer fire house, fulltime personnel from Station No. 3 were re-assigned to the then newly-opened Station No. 2 on Hwy. 53, near Dawson Forest Road in 2010.

While commissioners admitted the county was in need of a manned station on that side of town, funding was not allocated in the proposed budget because officials were awaiting approval on a grant intended to hire new personnel.

The county learned days before the budget vote that the grant application was unsuccessful.

Charlie Tarver, who lives east of Ga. 400, encouraged commissioners to man the station on a fulltime basis.

"We had a fire out in our area last year. It took 9 minutes for the truck to get there from Station 2. The volunteer went from their house to the fire station, it took four minutes and he got there right after the other truck," Tarver said. "Had the station been manned, they would have been there in the time it took to get from their home to there. We're going to need additional people as things continue to grow in this area."

The $22 million budget includes $400,000 to staff and equip the station.

Revisions to the proposed plan also include adjustments to starting pay for emergency services and park staff, as well as an increase in pay for election board members from $70 to $100 per meeting.

The board of commissioners also approved putting an additional $30,000 into the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Development budget to fund a handicap lift that will be installed in the county's welcome center.

There was a recommendation to set aside $40,000 that would be used as transitional funding in the event that the county's new sheriff, who will be elected in 2016, is not a current sheriff's office employee.

The board did not move forward with that line item, saying there were several elections within the county in 2016 that could benefit from a transitional pay while training for the position.

The approved budget will take $408,000 from the counties fund balance, leaving $4.1 million (or 18.42 percent) in contingency.