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Tax office closes satellite location
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Tax Commissioner Linda Townley said budget constraints have forced her to close Dawson County's satellite tag and tax office effective Friday.

The office on Liberty Drive, off Hwy. 53 near Dawson Forest Road, opened in January to serve residents living along the busy Ga. 400 corridor.

"It was an experiment. We didn't know how much traffic we'd get at the office," Townley said. "We thought it was a good thing, but they [residents] didn't use it."

Operational costs and the need to shift employees to the satellite office also played a role in Townley's decision.

"It was expensive to keep open with the power, the phones, the copiers. I just couldn't justify keeping it open," she said. "It didn't pay for itself."

There was one employee working at the satellite office who will transfer back to the main office in downtown Dawsonville.

"There were days when she would only have four or five people come into the satellite office all day," Townley said.

She added that the move had also affected employee morale, especially when the main branch was busy.

"I couldn't keep making it rough on everybody up here where the majority of the business is, because this is the main office," she said.

Townley said hiring an additional employee could have eased the situation and possibly allowed her to keep the satellite office open. The county's approved budget for 2011, however, calls for a continuance of the hiring freeze.

"I guess I was remiss for not asking [the commission] to hire a new employee," she said.

Townley said her office handles twice as many transactions than it did in 2005, when she was elected.

The state has also placed additional responsibilities on tax commissioner offices.

"We now handle out-of-state sales tax on motor vehicles and handicap placards, which used to be handled by Georgia State Patrol," she said. "And I have two less employees now than I did when I took office."

Townley said she hopes to be able to reopen the satellite office "when things pick up, but I don't see that happening in the foreseeable future."

The main office at 78 Howard Ave., Suite 140, is open 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays.

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