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Letter to the Editor: The cost of local government

I see in the paper that the City of Dawsonville is considering a police department and that the Sheriff is considering suing the county for more money. Before we get too far down either road I want the citizens to consider some basic facts.

Now my numbers will be dated and not exact but they will be close. If you want hard accurate numbers someone will have to hire a CPA and pay for exactness. My numbers indicate that we are already collecting and spending at a comparatively high rate.

The law enforcement numbers include the money spent by police departments.


County           Total County    Law enforcement   County tax rate        City tax rate

                        per citizen $          per citizen $


Dawson         960                             299                             8.1                               0


Lumpkin        628                             205                             9.4                               4.6


Forsyth           685                             248                             6.7                               0


Fannin           696                             170                             5.2                               6.3


Gilmer            327                             178                             7.2                               3.5


Pickens          877                             270                             6.6                               4.7


Cherokee      480                             192                             5.8                               6.8


Hall                 734                             238                             9.2                               3.1



Some conclusions: We are not at the top in property tax rates. But we are third highest in this number. On a per-citizen basis we are spending at the top of the heap for law enforcement and that is probably a function of the cost of Ga. 400 activity.

About 41 percent of the county income comes from property tax and about 27 percent comes from LOST sales taxes. LOST generates about 7 million of income. About 14 percent of that is sent to the City.

SPLOST taxes from Ga. 400 generate about another 7 million per year and the City gets 14 percent of that. The SPLOST money has to be spent on specific capital projects by state law.

The county seat of Dawsonville collects no taxes and lives off grants, and a share of the LOST and SPLOST tax revenues largely generated from the Ga.400 area. 

The particular circumstances of our county may require that we spend a lot more on law enforcement on the 400 area but I would like to see hard numbers about what we are spending there now on that particular function.

On a comparative basis the Sheriff seems to be well funded. If we want to spend even more on law enforcement we will be spending much more than any other county and that money will have to come from somewhere. 

The Board of Commissioners could take funds from other departments and shift that money to the Sheriff. Who wants to decrease fire protection, parks and rec, senior citizens or the roads department? Or the commissioners can raise the tax rate on all property owners. Who wants that? They cannot increase the sales tax rates.

Perhaps we should shift the funds of LOST and SPLOST from the City to the Sheriff. Our county seat does not generate anywhere near 14 percent of the sales tax revenues.

Before we start up another cost center we should all be certain that it is needed, that we want it, and that we can pay for it.

Gary Pichon

Marble Hill