At the special called joint meeting of the Dawson County Board of Commissioners and the Dawsonville City Council, commissioners and council members discussed a continuation of the county’s special-purpose local-option sales tax, SPLOST 7, which could fund new equipment for local first responders, road projects and local government facility upgrades.
During the meeting, both the city and the county presented lists of potential projects to allocate funds for.
Potential county projects, according to a comprehensive list read during the meeting by Dawson County Manager David Headley, included items such as a potential new public health building, elections building, upgrades to courthouse security and several Dawson County Fire and Emergency Medical Service upgrades, such as replacements for aging fire engines and ambulances, a new burn building, and the addition of a ladder truck to the Dawson County Fire Department fleet.
A list of potential city projects was read by Dawsonville City Manager Bob Bolz and included items such as repaving several city roads and sidewalks, expanding sewage capacity and upgrading downtown Dawsonville.
The total of all the potential projects on the county’s list is estimated to add up to about $73 million, while city projects were estimated at $12 million.
Because the current estimated revenue amount for SPLOST 7 will be about $60 million and which will be split between the two governments, both groups will be working to pare down their lists of potential projects to get their joint total closer to the SPLOST 7 estimate.
Officials emphasized that regardless of division of SPLOST 7 funds, the projects they go to will be carefully planned to maximize the benefits to both city and county residents.
“I love the city, and I want us all to benefit inside the geographic area and outside the geographic area,” District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines said. “We’ve got a good opportunity in front of us to be the most efficient we can and look towards how we can do things better together.”
“I doubt that there’s many in the crowd today or those that will hear about this later that wouldn’t say that each one of these projects on these lists would benefit you,” City council member Stephen Tolson added. “I think everyone would agree, including the public, that these are all coming from our feeling of responsibility to the community.”
Both the county board and the city council agreed that a March 2021 date to vote on SPLOST 7 would be best, and by pushing the date of the vote back, both groups would have more time to work on their projects and gather feedback from the community.
During the meeting, officials emphasized the importance of intergovernmental cooperation and expressed a desire for the community to be more involved in future meetings on SPLOST.
“I always tell people, ‘you call me anytime and if I don’t know the answer I’ll find it out,’ because I want transparency and openness in the community,” District 1 Commissioner Sharon Fausett said. “Because not only am I a commissioner, I live here too so I’m affected by the same things the community is.”
At the end of their discussion, county and city officials unanimously voted to move the intergovernmental SPLOST 7 approval to a later time consistent with a March 2021 election.