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County maintaining vehicles
More than $2,000 in savings the first week operational
5 In House vehicles pic
Shannon Harben changes the oil in a county vehicle last week at the newly opened fleet maintenance shop, which brings all county vehicle repairs in-house. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

With about 130 vehicles between emergency services, the sheriff’s office, public works and the county administrative team, Dawson County spends about $200,000 a year on vehicle maintenance.


County officials say that number is expected to drop significantly over the next year with the completion and opening of an in-house fleet maintenance shop.


“Several months of work have come together with the opening of our in-house fleet maintenance shop,” said Dawson County Manager Kevin Tanner. “In less than a week of being fully operational, we’ve seen over $2,000 in savings.”


The county invested about $30,000 for equipment to bring the vehicle maintenance in-house, according to Public Works Director David Headley.


“By the end of this year, we anticipate enough savings to cover the expense and still have additional savings,” he said. 


Tanner said the savings in the long run would be about $560,000 over six years.


“One of our public works employees, Stevie Harben, ran a garage for many years here in Dawsonville, and is able to perform much of the maintenance we need for these vehicles,” Tanner said.


Last year, Tanner organized a committee to address issues related to county vehicles and asked a committee to develop policies and procedures for vehicle usage, including a maintenance schedule.


New policies replace vehicles based on age and mileage, as well as create a procedure for the scheduled maintenance that will now be performed in-house.


Dawson County Sheriff Billy Carlisle, whose department has the largest number of county vehicles, said he has already seen a substantial savings in his vehicle budget with maintenance being performed in-house.


“About $2,000 so far, and that helps in these tough economic times when we’ve got to find any way we can to cut expenses,” he said.