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More personnel, increases requested as budget hearings near completion
budget staged 005

Budget hearings before the Dawson County Board of Commissioners continued Monday and Tuesday as department heads came forward with yet more requests.

Taking the floor Monday were the tax assessor’s office, parks and recreation, county attorney and the board of commissioners themselves.

Chief Tax Appraiser Elaine Garrett presented a request for $13,063 more than what the office was given in 2018. The increase would be for a five percent raise for the employees of the office, which the board of tax assessors has asked for.

The commission has in the past refused to single out any one person or department for raises, instead opting for two percent countywide raises the past two years, along with salary increases initiated by the recent salary study.

“Her overall budget would be less than what it was in ‘18 if you take out the board’s requested five percent increase,” Commission Chairman Billy Thurmond said.  

Garrett also asked for iPads and software as well as an additional vehicle for the field appraisers in her office.

New Parks and Recreation Director Matt Payne had his first presentation before the board on Monday as well, asking for an increase of over $70,000 between the three budgets he manages.

He asked for a $5,704  increase in property repair and maintenance for the pool at Veterans Memorial Park to allow the department to contract with one company for all pool services as well as a $2,475 increase for repair and maintenance at War Hill Park.

The rest of the $64,144 increase he asked for is in his budget that covers Veterans Memorial and Rock Creek Park, and includes $10,000 for site improvements, including fencing and concrete pads under the batting cages, and $10,000 for a lawn mower.

The county attorney asked for a $31,385 increase for a legal assistant to help him with secretarial work including scheduling, document preparation, research, file creation, copying and other tasks, and the board of commissioners anticipate a $6,975 increase in their budget for salary increases due commissioners completing certification courses.

On Tuesday, representatives from the Juvenile Court, Dawson County Chamber of Commerce, Keep Dawson County Beautiful, the arts council, library and health department made their requests.

Chief Judge Lindsay Burton asked for an increase of $76,555 over this year’s budget for an associate juvenile judge to help with the newly instated Family Treatment Court as well as additional funds for child and parent indigent defense, which has increased due to law changes.

The Dawson County Chamber of Commerce asked, as they do each year, for the whole eight percent of the county’s local revenue from the hotel/motel tax. The chamber currently receives six percent of the revenue, which is in turn used on advertising to drive tourism in the county.

The extra two percent in 2017 would have created $79,000 additional for the chamber. Chamber President Christie Moore said that for every dollar the chamber spends on tourism, $4.48 is generated in local taxes.

Kara Wilkins, the new executive director of Keep Dawson County Beautiful, presented a budget reduction of $4,252, while the arts council, which supports the Bowen Center for the Arts, asked for an additional $2,000 in an effort to purchase more advertising.

Representatives from the Dawson County Library requested a $52,000 increase over last year’s budget to expand programs and events, staff the library annex, purchase materials and give employees a three percent cost of living increase.

Hearings will continue Wednesday with the senior center, transit, planning, the marshal’s office and emergency services. Thursday hearings will wrap up with fleet, No One Alone, DFACS, the humane society, CASA and the District Attorney.

All hearings are held beginning at 9 a.m. in the second floor assembly room at the Dawson County Government Center. The public is invited and encouraged to attend.