Commissioners reappoint Headley county manager

Business

County Manager David Headley

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – David Headley was hired as Dawson County Manager two years ago. Thursday, the Board of Commissioners showed their appreciation for the way he has managed the day-to-day operation of the county by unanimously reappointing him for another year.

Dawson County Board of Commissioners Chairman Billy Thurmond said, “David has done a good job. He’s shown good leadership skills and he has the staff working together and going in the right direction. We’re proud of the way he has taken care of the county’s business.”

As County Manager, Headley supervises nine department directors and more than 200 county employees, implements board policies and assists the chairman with annual budget preparations.

“If you were to ask me what our biggest accomplishments were in the last two years, or what I’m most proud of, it would be the people we have hired,” Headley said.

He has demonstrated the ability to identify highly-experienced, highly-qualified individuals to serve citizens..

When Lanier Swafford resigned as Public Safety Director, Headley hired Danny Thompson, a veteran firefighter with 29 years fire and emergency services experience along with 26 years’ experience as a paramedic.

Thompson also is a Certified Emergency Manager who has commanded in high rise fire situations and received the 300 Club of Atlanta award for life-saving efforts while serving with the Sandy Springs Fire Department.

He also hired Planning and Development Director Jameson Kinley who has a number of unique qualifications, including a specialized background in Geographic Information Science.

Kinley has worked closely with the planning department the last two years and has the ability to take Dawson County to the next level with technology. Headley said Kinley will use his GIS skills to analyze data and help give the Board of Commissioners and committees more updated and accurate information so that better decisions can be made for the citizens.

Headley also hired Matt Payne, who has nearly a quarter century of experience in parks and recreation operations, to be Dawson County’s Parks and Recreation Director.

From 1995 until 1999, he served as athletic director for the Forsyth County Parks and Recreation Department. Since then he worked at athletic director for the City of Cumming, where he was responsible for all aspects of athletic programming and maintenance and operations of the city swimming pool.

“There is an old quote that says, if you want to run fast you run alone. But if you want to run far you run together. Our employees are running together and that should make the citizens feel good about the way things are being run.”

From an operational standpoint, Headley said, “The county has made big strides as far as how open the budget process has become. In the past, when department heads presented their annual budget requests, they made them to the chairman and county manager. But for the past two years, all commissioners and citizens have been welcome to attend.

“In the past, that has been pretty much a closed-door process. “Commissioners have not been involved in it. The chairman met with the department heads and he determined what needed to go forward. He presented the budget and they voted on it. But, we have opened the door to communications we never had before,” Headley said.

Headley has 28 years of county government experience with 16 of those years in county government management. Most recently, he served as the Dawsonville City Manager.  He holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and served in the United States Marine Corps. He and his wife, Sandy, and their two daughters reside in Cumming.

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BOC to vote on adjustment to coroner’s budget

News

Coroner Ted Bearden

DAWSONVILLE, Ga – The Dawson County Board of Commissioners is expected to vote on Coroner Ted Bearden’s request for funding for one additional deputy coroner position beginning on Oct. 1 when it meets in a regular session Thursday at 6 p.m. in the County Administration Building.

The position has been approved for the 2019 budget, but Bearden told commissioners during last week’s work session that a 30 percent increase in the number of calls since last year had forced him to hire a deputy coroner this year and pay him out of his own pocket. He did not ask to be reimbursed for his out of pocket expense, but did request commissioners approve funding for the fourth quarter of this year, approximately $3,876.

He also asked that the coroner’s budget for Other Services (morgue-transportation) be increased by $8,000. He pointed out that the expense had been budgeted for $25,900 in 2017 but only $19,000 this year.

Counties are required by state statute to pay for burial or cremation of indigent deceased persons. Bearden requested that the county only provide cremation service because the reimbursable expense to counties is only $2,000. “There is no way to bury someone for that amount,” he said.

Thursday’s meeting will also see commissioners vote on a conditional use permit requested by Herman Goforth to allow for multiple accessory structures to be built on a 2.744-acre tract. The property is located on Lumpkin Campground Road near Hwy. 53.

Another request commissioners will have to vote on is one made by Public Works Director David McKee who has asked for a professional services exemption for Wakefield Beasley and Associates. The company provided the preliminary civil engineering design for the Veterans Memorial Park ballfield dirt relocation and storm water management plan, which was incorporated into the full design plans for the construction of the new Senior Center building.

The county is in the beginning stages for relocation of the current pavilion, playground and update of the walking trail and unused ball field directly across from the Senior Center. McKee asked for the exemption so Wakefield Beasley & Associates can complete its preliminary work on these designs and plans. The cost is not to exceed $53,915.

McKee said the exemption would save the county the expense of hiring a new firm to become familiar with the site, draw up preliminary plans, and create the complete plans/specifications for for construction services.

Commissioners will also vote on the 2019 Board of Commissioners meeting calendar which accommodates a couple of holidays — July 4 and Thanksgiving — which fall on Thursday. Meetings those weeks will be held on Tuesday. The proposed calendar also accommodates the Association County Commissioners of Georgia Annual Conference in April 2019. Additionally, no meetings are scheduled for the weeks of New Year’s and Christmas.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

 

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Head-on collision in Dawson County closes Hwy. 53

News, Police & Government

On August 31, 2018 at 08:09, Dawson County Emergency Services (DCFES) responded to a head-on collision in the area of Highway 53/Highway 183. This was a passenger vehicle versus tractor trailer incident; crews found one female victim entrapped in her vehicle. DCFES Company 1 utilized the “Jaws of Life” to extricate the patient from the vehicle at 8:27am.One female was transported to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in stable condition with non-life threatening injuries. DCFES Station 6 responded for manpower to assist with the extrication of the patient.

SFC Curtis W. Bradshaw with Georgia State Patrol, reported that the Toyota Camry was driven by 30 year old Ashley Enyart of Marble Hill, GA.  The tractor trailer was driven by 62 year old Miguel Arrieta-Villarreal of Woodstock, GA. Enyart was traveling West on Highway 53, when she crossed the centerline in the left hand curve. Arrieta-Villarreal was traveling east on Highway 53 and was negotiating a downhill right hand curve; the Toyota Camry struck the left front corner of the Freightliner tractor trailer. After impact, the Camry rotated approximately 180 degrees and came to rest facing east in the westbound lane.  After impact, the Freight-liner continued traveling east and ran off the roadway onto the north shoulder striking a ditch and embankment.

Enyart was transported by ambulance to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville where she was treated for her injuries and released.  Mr. Arrieta-Villarreal had a complaint of injury but declined transport to the hospital.

According to DCFES, the incident closed Highway 53 between the intersection of Hwy 183 and Duck Thurmond Rd, but has since been reopened.

Both drivers were wearing their seatbelts.  Drugs and alcohol do not appear to be involved or a factor.  There was no evidence either driver was distracted at the time of the crash. Enyart was cited for driving on the wrong side of the road.

 

Photos were taken by Danny Thompson, Dawson County Fire & EMS

Commissioners set millage rate, impact fees

News

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Dawson County’s 2019 millage rate is set at 8.138. During Thursday’s third and final public hearing, commissioners voted 3-1 to keep the rate the same as it has been for the last 10 years.

The rollback rate of 7.393 would have generated the same amount of revenue as it has in 2018.

The lone citizen to speak Thursday was Tony Passarello who asked commissioners to consider a compromise between the proposed rate of 8.138 and the rollback rate

Passarello said his position had evolved over the past several months from one supporting the current millage rate to where he could see the argument for a rollback rate.

“Is there an opportunity for us come to a compromise,” he asked. “As someone who has been in sales for a number of years, I can tell you that the best negotiations are the ones where nobody comes away happy.”

District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines made a motion for the millage rate be set 8.0635. District 3 Commissioner Jimmy Hamby asked how much that would save individual homeowners. Finance Director Vickie Neikirk came up with a quick calculation of about $7.45 on a $250,000 home. The motion failed 3-1.

After two weeks of open departmental budget hearings, commissioners felt they needed the extra revenue to balance the budget, improve the infrastructure provide the services citizens want.

Commissioners also voted to impose the maximum impact fees on new development, again on a 3-1 vote with Gaines opposed. The maximum fees include $3,400 for a new home, $1.88 per square foot for a super market and $1.64 per square foot for a shopping center.

Dawson County Chamber of Commerce President Christie Haynes said, “Our chamber is very concerned that a move from zero impact fees to maximum impact fees will overnight change our community into one that is perceived to be anti-business.”

She asked commissioners to consider adopting impact fees at 25 percent of the maximum for at least the first year and she pointed out that the maximum rate would place a higher cost of doing business in Dawson County than much larger counties like Hall, Forsyth and Cherokee.

Gaines said he, too, worried about sending an anti-business message. “We all want to attract higher-paying wages, he said. Setting impact fees at the maximum, he added is, “Simply putting another road block.”

District 1 Commissioner Sharon Fausett argued that by not setting the maximum impact fees, the cost of new services created by the developments shifts to taxpayers already in the county. “I don’t think it should shift onto somebody else. It should be on those businesses.”

Chairman Billy Thurmond, who does not have a vote except in the case of a tie, said, “I think it would be in the best interest that we start the business category at 25 percent.” He stated, the fee could always be raised if it did not appear to discourage desired businesses from moving to the county.

“We talked about that a long time, where we’re looking for technology-based companies or medical,” he said. “We don’t want to take the chance where we may not get the high-paying jobs that come along with that.”

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

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Commission to set millage rate, impact fees

News

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — Dawson County Commissioners have two important issues to decide during Thursday’s Board of Commissioners meeting:  The millage rate and impact fees.

The millage rate is set for the third of three required public hearings. Commissioners could vote to keep the current millage rate 8.138, apply the rollback rate of 7.393 mills or increase the rate.

The most likely course of action is to keep the millage rate at 8.138, where it has been the last 10 years. That would allow the county to raise an additional $1.3 million in revenue above last year. Setting the rollback rate would mean the county would generate the same amount of revenue as last year. One mill equals about $1 for every $1,000 in assessed property value.

District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines said Wednesday, “My first goal as a conservative is always going to be to find a way to save on taxes and roll back as much as possible. I know we won’t be able to roll back much because the county does have some tremendous needs.”

Gaines mentioned the need to replace aging equipment rather than paying for costly repairs again and again as one need.

“I’ve gone through budgets many times before both here and during my time on city council,” he said. “But this year I’ve spent more time than ever before trying to make sure I’m looking at every single dollar of efficiency.”

During previous public hearings, only one citizen spoke out against keeping the millage rate at 8.138.

Last Thursday, Mike Wenson told commissioners, “My taxes are going through the roof. I know as government employees you can turn around and raise taxes and not take into consideration the problems that people have paying them.” He also said his taxes had gone up more than 100 percent in three years.

Commissioners also will hold a second final public hearing on impact fees Thursday.

Commissioners approved impact fees in 2006, but suspended them during the recession of 2009 when new development was practically non-existent. The fees are imposed on new development projects to pay for all — or a portion of the costs — of providing public services to those developments.

Bill Ross whose company, Ross and Associates, has been working on an impact fee program for the county outlined that program during the Aug. 9 commission meeting.

He pointed out that the county’s population is expected to double in the next two decades and that there will be 2,700 more housing units by then. “By 2040, almost half the traffic on your roads will be generated by new development that has moved into the county,” he said.

The program looked specifically at the impact growth will have on library services, parks and recreation, fire protection, law enforcement and road improvement.

By 2040, it is projected that the county will require one new library and twice the volume of books, computers and DVDs. Four new fire stations will need to be built and 16 firetrucks purchased. The county, Ross said, will need 137 additional acres for recreational facilities.

The maximum fees the county could impose on various types of development include $3,400 for a single-family home, $1.64 per square foot for a shopping center and $1.88 for a super market.

Commission meetings are held in the second floor assembly room of the Dawson County Government Center, located at 25 Justice Way in downtown Dawsonville.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

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BOC reviews county Hazardous Mitigation Plan

News

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Dawson County Emergency Services Director Danny Thompson presented the county’s updated Hazardous Mitigation Plan at the Board of Commissioners work session Thursday.

The plan is a revision of the 2012 version and ensures Dawson County is in compliance with the regulations of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 that allows the county to maintain eligibility and qualify to secure federal funding from disastrous events.

During the plan development, the Dawson County Hazard Plan Committee identified five goals:

  • Protect public health and safety;
  • Reduce and eliminate exposure to natural/manmade hazard events;
  • Reduce the loss and damage to private property/public infrastructure resulting from these various disasters;
  • Maintain continuity of public/private sector operations during disasters;
  • Respond promptly, appropriately and efficiently in the time of an event.

The plan was awarded a $24,000 Hazard Mitigation Planning Grant by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) which requires a 25 percent match.

Thompson also asked Board approval to move money from the contingency fund to provide a 10 percent match for the Georgia Fireworks Tax Monies Grant to pay for the purchase of ten sets of firefighter personal protective ensemble (PPE) that cost $3,000 each.

Commissioners discussed three options for replacing some of the county’s aging photocopiers. The options included purchasing copiers, leasing copiers or a combination of a lease/purchase agreement. Staff recommended the county utilize the Georgia Department of Administrative Services contract to leverage the state’s purchasing power.

Public Works Director David McKee informed the Board of a safety concern created by increased traffic along Red Rider Road due to commercial development. The road is very narrow and pavement edges are significantly worn from the heavy through truck traffic. There is not enough right-of-way to widen the road to accommodate two traffic lanes.

McKee said staff is trying to work through short- and long-term solutions but heavy truck traffic, and through traffic continues to degrade the crumbling roadway. He recommended temporarily closing the road to through traffic from the intersection of Lumpkin Campground and Red Rider to a point approximately 1300’ from the intersection and added that his staff will continue to work with local property owners on a solution for long-term intersection improvements.

Items discussed during work sessions can be voted on at the next voting session of the Board of Commissioners.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

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Dawson County department heads present their 2019 budget requests to Board of Commissioners

News

Human Resources Director Danielle Yarbrough presents her 2019 budget request to commissioners.

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – After months of preparation, Dawson County’s department heads presented their 2019 budget requests to the Board of Commissioners Monday. Commissioners scrutinized every line item in search of efficiencies that would save tax payer dollars.

Superior Court Judge Kathleen Gosselin, Tax Commissioner Nicole Stewart, Development Authority Director Brian Trapnell, Human Resource Director Danielle Yarbrough and Probate Court Judge Jennifer Burt were the first to present their requests.

Superior Court is asking for an increase of $16,297 in its 2019 budget to $516,971. Most of the increase is due to the addition of a fifth superior court judge to serve Dawson and Hall counties. Judge Clint Bearden was appointed to that post by Governor Nathan Deal in December.

Stewart was next in line and she brought good news, informing commissioners that her department –which is ranked number one in the state in percentage of taxes collected – is seeking a budget reduction of approximately $22,618 to $429,054 in 2019.

Chairman Billy Thurmond pointed out that the reduction was due to “some people (within the department) changing positions and some people making less money.”

As they reviewed the presentation, Commissioner Julie Hughes-Nix noted that Stewart’s expenditures for legal fees also declined when the county hired County Attorney Lynn Frey.

“I noticed your attorney fees were $4,440 in 2017 and this year only $1,500,” she said. “I would recommend to the Board that we take a look at all departments and leave those line items out for attorney fees because we do have a county attorney now.”

The Development Authority operated on a $150,000 budget in 2017. Commissioners voted not to fund the group in 2018 but has chosen to reinstate it in 2019. Trapnell requested an operating budget of $200,000, part of which would be to engage an expert consultant to identify options for Development Authority funding.

Judge Burt is asking for a slight increase in her budget from $309,028 to $316,068. The increase is a result of the 2 percent countywide pay increase approved by the Board of Commissioner and the rest is in retirement contributions.

In 2016, the Director of Administration position was dissolved and Human Resources assumed responsibility for risk management. HR Director Danielle Yarbrough presented a budget request for 2019 which reflected a $25,000 decrease in risk management costs.

For non-risk management activities, she requested a budget increase of about $23,965 to $212,973. The increase would be attributed to group insurance ($6,000), retirement contribution ($5,000), general office supplies ($4,000), commission-approved salary increase ($2,000) and attorney review of the new county employee handbook ($4,000). In this case, outside counsel would be required to perform the review because it would be a conflict of interest for the county attorney to do so.

Yarbrough is also asking the Board to approve a position for a human resource specialist at a salary of $34,153 plus benefits totaling approximately $19,589 and retirement contribution. Currently, there are only two employees in Human Resources.

“The Society for Human Resource Management recommends one human resources person for every 100 employees,” Yarbrough explained. “So we are sorely understaffed.” The county has 284 full-time and 158 part-time employees plus 41 vacancies and 21 frozen positions.

“A lot of department heads are going to be coming to you to ask for positions to be unfrozen and for new positions which is going to increase the burden on my department,” she said. “Even if we had two new employees, we would still be understaffed. But we’re only asking for one.”

Budget reviews will be held at 9 a.m. each day through Thursday and the public is encouraged to attend.

Tuesday, commissioners will review the public defender, elections office, extension service, finance department and public works/transfer station.

 

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dawson County impact fees inch closer to reality

News

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – The Dawson County Board of Commissioners moved closer to reinstatement of impact fees on developers by holding the first of two public hearings Thursday. The second is scheduled for Aug. 16.

County commissioners approved impact fees in 2006, but suspended them during the recession of 2009 when new development was practically non-existent. The fees are imposed on new development projects to pay for all — or a portion of the costs — of providing public services to those developments.

Bill Ross whose company, Ross and Associates, has been working on an impact fee program for the county outlined that program during Thursday’s commission meeting.

Ross pointed out that the county’s population is expected to double in the next two decades and that there will be 2,700 more housing units by then. “By 2040, almost half the traffic on your roads will be generated by new development that has moved into the county,” he told commissioners.

The program looked specifically at the impact growth will have on library services, parks and recreation, fire protection, law enforcement and road improvement.

By 2040, it is projected that the county will require one new library and twice the volume of books, computers and DVDs. Four new fire stations will need to be built and 16 firetrucks purchased. The county, Ross said, will need 137 additional acres for recreational facilities.

The maximum fees the county could impose of various types of development include $3,400 for a single-family home, $1.64 per square foot for a shopping center and $1.88 for a super market.

Following the Aug. 16 public hearing, commissioners are expected to vote in favor of the reinstatement of the fees.

Commissioners also held the first of three public hearings on the county millage rate for next year. The proposal is to leave the rate the same as it has been the last 10 years, at 8.138 mills. However, at the end of the public hearings, the Board could choose to set the roll back rate of 7.393 mills.

The next public hearings are set for Aug. 9 and 16 at 6 p.m.

Commissioners also approved:

  • The purchase of four new vehicles for the Sheriff’s Office under the Georgia Department of Administrative services Vehicle Cooperative for a total of $125,563.75
  • Phase 1 of the three phase county wide computer replacement program. The total estimated cost for 2018 is $145,000 with funds coming from SPLOST VI. The total estimated cost for the three-year period is $435,000;
  • A new professional services contract that will extend the number of years the contract can be extended from two one-year renewals to four one-year renewals;
  • The appointment of Kara Wilkins as the new executive director with an annual salary of $5,000 to be prorated for the remainder of 2018.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

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