With the downturn in the economy many businesses and individuals have had to reinvent themselves. We all have had to look for ways to cut back and to be more efficient with the limited resources that are available. Your local Dawson County government is no exception.
We have seen a decrease in revenue over the past two years coming into the county coffers. As a result, we have had to cut expenses in order to maintain a balanced budget.
One step we have taken to accomplish this is to take a close look at every county position and determine if we are fully utilizing our resources to their highest potential. This has resulted in several positions being left vacant and the combining of other positions to cut staff numbers and ultimately cost.
One department that has had proven success in this area is our public works and community development department.
A couple of years ago we had an employee in this department responsible for our GIS system and another employee responsible for construction monitoring.
In an effort to decrease expenses, we moved the GIS duties and responsibilities to our planning and development director and combined the GIS and construction monitoring positions into one. This allowed us to reclassify the position and to hire one highly qualified individual. The result was an immediate yearly savings of more than $20,000 and the long-term savings are proving to be much greater.
For some time we realized that our public works department had a need for in-house design capabilities. This type of ability requires a licensed civil engineer to be on staff. In the past it was thought that this expertise would be too expensive. However, by taking advantage of the slowing economy and by combining two positions we were able to make this dream a reality.
In January of this year Corey Gutherie joined the Dawson County team as the county engineer.
Gutherie wears many hats with your local government. He monitors construction activity for our road department, he conducts inspections of commercial and residential sites that may require an engineer, and he prepares professional civil designs for county projects.
Gutherie is a graduate of Georgia Tech with a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering. He holds a professional engineering license and has more than 10 years of experience in the private sector doing street and other civil designs throughout the metro Atlanta and north Georgia area. He is well respected among his colleagues in the region.
Gutherie’s design work is already saving the county money by being able to perform the work in house. Not taking into account the $20,000 we are saving annually by combining the positions, we anticipate an additional savings of $50,000 in design cost during his first two years.
His most recent road improvement project is currently being constructed by our road department. Gutherie is also working closely with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and FEMA in conducting an in-depth analysis of the culverts in the county.
This will eventually result in the replacement of undersized culverts that are venerable to flooding and damage during heavy rain events. We would have expected to pay more than $8,000 for these two projects by contracting with an outside company.
I am personally proud of the fact that many of our employees not only work for Dawson County, but they also are a part of our community.
Gutherie and his wife, Audrey Gutherie, recently purchased a home and have relocated their family to Dawson County. Audrey has a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Georgia and will be teaching in the fall at North Georgia College & State University. The Gutherie’s are the proud parents of 5-year-old, Isabel, and 1-year-old, Sam.
They are looking forward to raising their children here in the Dawson County community.
Over the past few months we have started to see some signs locally that our economy may be leveling out.
Whatever comes our way, Dawson County government will continue to take the necessary steps to cut expenses while still providing our citizens the services they deserve and expect.
With the help of employees like Gutherie, and the other fine men and women that I have the pleasure of working with on a daily basis, I feel confident that we will continue to get this job done.
I would also encourage each of you to consider attending our third annual citizen’s academy starting Sept. 7.
You can e-mail me or call me directly for more information.
Remember, this is your local government, and we are here to serve you.
If we can be of any assistance to you, please call on us.
Dawson County Manager Kevin Tanner may be reached at (706) 344-3501 or firstname.lastname@example.org.