For the past three months it has been an honor to serve as your county manager.
Dawson County has experienced tremendous growth during the past 10 years.
We have seen revenues steadily increase.
Over the past year, however, we have witnessed many Americans lose their jobs, businesses close and growth across our region slow. Everything from gas prices to food prices has risen dramatically in recent months.
On Friday, we saw the stock market close higher and the price of oil drop.
These are encouraging signs, but we cannot afford to think the worst is over.
These truly are some of the most challenging times to be in government service.
Dawson County is well prepared to weather the economic downturn.
We are well within the recommended limits with a healthy fund balance of approximately $5 million, but we are not taking anything for granted.
Over the past few months we have used inmate labor to refurbish county-owned facilities allowing us to move out of rented space.
We have not filled vacant positions that are non-critical in this slowing economy.
We are working to change our purchasing practices, allowing us to take advantage of our bulk buying power.
We have established a vehicle committee that is working diligently to change how we purchase and operate county vehicles. This committee is reviewing fuel-efficient vehicles, vehicle use policies, vehicle replacement policies and software that will allow the county to track costs and manage service for all county-owned vehicles.
Our public works department saved the county $70,000 by refurbishing two old ambulances instead of purchasing new vehicles. One of our mechanics uses one vehicle as a mobile garage. Before the vehicle was in service, all of our large equipment had to travel back (or be towed back) to the county shop. With the rising cost of fuel, this was becoming increasingly expensive. The new service truck allows our mechanic to go to the site and repair the problem at a much-reduced cost.
I have challenged the staff to continue to find ways to cut costs without limiting service.
During August all county employees are submitting ideas to save money. The staff member whose idea saves the most money annually will receive a $200 North Georgia Premium Outlet gift card that I purchased.
I have already received several great ideas that we will implement.
We should be proud of the dedicated staff serving at all levels of our local government.
Even before the contest began the staff had identified areas to save over $250,000 annually. I am optimistic that our citizens will continue to see their government save money even as we improve services. This will allow us to successfully weather any economic downturn.
I would encourage any citizen who has a cost saving idea to contact me by e-mail or phone.
The date for the County Academy to begin has been set for Sept. 23, 2008.
The class will be a 10 week program that will give our citizens an in-depth look at how local government functions.
If you are interested in attending, please contact me.
Remember, this is your government, and all of us are here to serve you.
Please feel free to contact Kevin Tanner at (706) 344-3501 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Kevin Tanner is the Dawson County Manager.