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.

 

 

 

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BOC says no to smaller lot sizes in Chestatee

News

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – The Dawson County Board of Commissioners unanimously denied a request by Brian Ferris and Chestatee Development Corporation to amend Chestatee subdivision’s Master Plan during Tuesday’s meeting.

Ferris wanted to change the master plan that called for lots in the Linkside section to have 100 foot widths to allow 70-foot widths to accommodate 11 more lots in that section. There are 46 lots in Linkside and 34 remain unsold. Homeowners in Chestatee have strongly objected to the request, saying it would decrease the value of their homes and create additional traffic congestion.

Ferris’ attorney Ethan Underwood argued that his client didn’t need approval of the Board to change the master plan. “The number of lots per unit shall not require further approval by the Planning Commission or Board of Commissioners,” he said. “That’s the law. That’s the master plan.”

In other business, the Board agreed to a request by Georgia State Patrol Post 37 to purchase two radar units and two laser units to equip the patrol cars assigned to the Dawson County area at a cost of $8,890. Commissioner Chris Gaines pointed out that GSP’s law enforcement effort has raised $83,118 for  the county this year.

Commissioners voted unanimously to allow Tax Commissioner Nicole Stewart to write off $73,237.38 in uncollectable taxes due to businesses closing or moving out of county.

The Board also agreed to purchase 16 new fire hydrants at a total cost of $55,440 for Nix Bridge Road, Overlook Drive, Woodland Circle and North Seed Tick Road.

Fire Chief/Public Safety Director Danny Thompson requested the Board appoint Lucas Ray as interim Emergency Management Agency Director while he completes courses required for him to gain Certified EMA status. Commissioners, instead, chose to appoint Thompson as the interim director.

The Fiscal Year 2019 contract with Legacy Link was renewed at a cost of $337,901 and commissioners unanimously approved the Title VI plan for Dawson County Transit.

The Board also approved the following appointments: Kathryn Reagan Smith and Gail Smith (Library Board); Brian Trapnell (Industrial Building Authority); Brian Trapnell and Christie Haynes Moore (Joint Development Authority).

 

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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Johnson Elected Dawson County Sheriff

News, Politics

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — Jeff Johnson eked out a narrow victory over Tony Wooten in Tuesday’s General Primary runoff to be elected Dawson County Sheriff. Johnson will replace long time top cop Billy Carlisle who is resigning at the end of this year.

Johnson received 1,890 votes or 52.07 percent of the total votes cast to Wooten’s 1,740 votes or 47.93 percent.

Johnson a Major in the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office, campagned on his many years of experience and by emphasizing the need to retain experienced personnel. He was able to reverse the results of the four-candidate General Primary election in which Wooten took 36 percent of the vote to his 27 percent.

In the race for tax commissioner, Nicole Stewart defeated Andi Henson Juliette with 1,889 votes or 53.8 percent of the total votes cast to Juliette’s 1,624 votes or 46.2 percent.

“I’m so humbled and blessed for everyone’s support,” Stewart said after the election. “I would like to thank everyone who helped with my campaign. I couldn’t have done it without each of you. I’m beyond excited to be your Tax Commissioner and look forward to continue serving my community.”

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Johnson is Elected Dawson County Sheriff

News, Politics

In Tuesday’s General Primary runoff races, Major Jeff Johnson was elected sheriff, beating Captain Tony Wooten by 150 votes, 1,890 to 1,740 and Nicole Stewart won the tax commissioner’s race, beating Andi Henson Juliette, 1,889 to 1,624. Results are unofficial until certified by the Dawson County Elections Office on Friday.

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Runoff Races Front and Center in Dawson, Lumpkin today

News, Politics

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — Georgians will head back to the polls today to decide key races, including several in Dawson and Lumpkin counties.

In Dawson County, voters will vote in a new sheriff and tax commissioner.
The sheriff candidates are veteran law enforcement officers Captain Tony Wooten and Major Jeff Johnson. Nicole Stewart and Andi Henson Juliette are competing for the tax commissioner job.

In Lumpkin County, voters will choose who they want to represent them on the county commission in District 2 and in the coroner’s office. Steve Shaw is the incumbent Dist. 2 commissioner and Bobby Mayfield is the challenger.

The candidates for coroner are Amanda Jones-Holbrooks and Jim Sheppard. Jones-Holbrooks was arrested earlier this month on a felony charge of first-degree forgery and is awaiting trial. Sheppard is a veteran law enforcement officer who will resign at the end of this year after 28 years of service.

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Early Voting for Primary Runoff Races Ends Friday

News, Politics

DAWON COUNTY, Ga. — Early voting ends Friday for the July 26 general election primary runoffs.

The races in Forsyth County are between Tony Wooten and Jeff Johnson to decide who will replace retiring Sheriff Billy Carlisle and tax commissioner where two newcomers, Andi Henson Juliette and Nicole Stewart, are seeking to fill the vacancy left by Linda Townley who is also retiring this year.

Early voting started July 5 and the Dawson County Elections Office reports that the turnout has beem much heavier than expected. As of Friday afternoon, 1,569 people had cast their ballots

“That’s much greater than we anticipated, especially for a runoff election,” said Dawson County Director of Elections and Registration.
Georgia law requires a runoff if no candidate wins a majority in a general primary.

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Sheriff, Tax Commissioner Candidates Square Off

News, Politics

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — A standing-room-only crowd got one last chance to evaluate the candidates for Dawson County Sheriff and Tax Commissioner Tuesday in the Meeting Room of Fire Station No.2 on Dawsonville Highway.

Tax Commissioner candidates Nicole Stewart and Andi Henson-Juliette provided a tepid, respectful opening act for a slightly more combative performance by Sheriff candidates Tony Wooten and Jeff Johnson.

Henson-Juliette stressed her experience in handling multi-million dollar budgets while Stewart placed the emphasis on her customer service experience and community involvement.

Henson-Juliette is a former analyst for a Department of Defense contractor and the FBI and has managed budgets in excess of $50 million. She is a graduate of Dawson County High School and North Georgia College and State University.

“A lack of experience in the Tax Commissioner’s Office could be detrimental to taxpayers since 75 percent of the county’s budget comes from sales tax,” she said. “I’m the only candidate with experience managing budgets like that.”
Stewart said she has solid management experience. “I have effectively managed 8-10 people and have helped teach many small businesses how to manage a budget.”

She is a former banker with experience in the loan department. She is also an honors graduate of Dawson County High School and North Georgia College and State University who recently earned her Masters degree at Brenau University. Active in many community affairs, she was named Dawson County’s Outstanding Citizen in 2015.

The sheriff candidates did find some areas of agreement, for example no-knock warrants. Both agreed they were sometimes necessary for the safety of officers. They also agreed the county needs a strict policy to restrict high-speed chases.

But the tension began when Johnson implied that Wooten had made promises to deputies who publicly endorsed him in a half-page ad that ran in the local newspaper this week.

“I can say a lot of promises had to be made,” Johnson said. “They’re doing all they can to get their man elected.”

Candidates were given an opportunity to rebut their opponent’s comments and both men took full advantage.

Wooten bristled at Johnson’s remark, “They haven’t been promised a thing.”

When Johnson pointed out that he had more years of experience than Wooten, Wooten responded with “All the candidates in the race had experience. It’s not the number of years experience that makes you a leader. I’ve led five of the six divisions in the sheriff’s office.”

Early voting in both races will continue through Friday, July 22. Election day will be July 26.

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Final Candidate Forum Scheduled Tuesday

News, Politics

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — The Dawson County Tea Party and Foothills Republican Women will host the final candidate forum Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Fire Station No. 2 next to Tractor Supply on Hwy. 53 in Dawsonville. This will be the last forum before the Election Day which is scheduled for July 26.
Guests are invited to prepare questions to ask the candidates and submit them as they enter.

The candidates for sheriff are Captain Tony Wooten, an 18-year veteran of the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office and Major Jeff Johnson, a 23-year law enforcement veteran.

Wooten has commanded all but one department in the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office and currently supervises the community policing program and school resource officers while serving as the Public Information Officer.
Johnson is currently the head of the Dawson County detention center and has experience in patrols, courts, investigation, specialized assignments internal affairs and community programs.

Wooten won the four-candidate May primary with 1,527 votes while Johnson finished second with 1,157.

The other runoff race is between Andi Hinson Juliette and Nicole Stewart to decide who will become the county’s next tax commissioner.

Juliette is a former analyst for a Department of Defense contractor and the FBI and has managed budgets in excess of $50 million. She is a graduate of Dawson County High School and North Georgia College and State University.

Stewart is a former banker with experience in the loan department. She is also an honors graduate of Dawson County High School and North Georgia College and State University who is currently working on her Masters degree at Brenau University in Gainesville. Active in many community affairs, she was named Dawson County’s Outstanding Citizen in 2015.

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