Chairman says commission cannot accept pay raise until county employees get long-awaited increase


BOC Chairman Billy Thurmond

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Tara Hardwick, chairwoman of the commissioners’ compensation committee, presented the findings of her committee at last week’s Dawson County Board of Commissioners work session. After a review of 10 similar-sized and adjacent counties, Hardwick said the committee recommends the commissioners and chairman be given a 2 percent increase in base pay beginning in January 2019.

Hardwick said the study found the average annual pay in the 10-county area is $9,818 for commissioners and $13,774 for commission chairmen. Dawson County Commissioners earn $9,600 and Chairman Billy Thurmond is paid $12,000 annually.

Hardwick said, “We took into consideration current and projected population growth as well as the desire to attract only the most highly qualified candidates.” She also pointed out commissioners had not had a pay increase in 12 years other than the annual cost of living allowance (COLA), which is regulated by the General Assembly.

Thurmond said, “Enabling legislation requires us to do this every four years, and it hasn’t been done since 2005. So, this isn’t intended to give county commissioners a big raise and new car but to get us into compliance with our own rules.”

Thurmond thanked the committee for its hard work but added, “(The Board) is still in agreement that as long as we haven’t given our employees the 2 percent pay increase they are in line for, we will not accept one for the board at this time.”

Carolyn Bowen informed the board the Dawson County Humane Society is interested in buying the land it has leased from the Etowah Water and Sewer Authority. Bowen, the organization president, said in order to receive funding to continue to build and improve the shelter, the Humane Society needs to own the land. Bowen said funding will come from a major benefactor who has significant concerns that the organization does not own the land under the building in which the trust has invested.

Dawson County Emergency Services Fire Chief Lanier Swafford said that the city of Johns Creek had requested permission to temporarily store one of its new fire trucks in one of the empty bays at a Dawson County firehouse until its new firehouse has been constructed. Swafford added that if an intergovernmental agreement is approved, the county will have no financial liability for any damage that may occur.

Swafford also asked commissioners to consider approval of a grant application for the Chesney Fallen Firefighters Memorial Grant Program. The grant is offered by the Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation (GFBF) in memory of Gwinnett County career firefighter Brant Chesney, who lost his life Dec. 27, 1996, battling a fire as a volunteer with the Forsyth County Fire Department. If awarded, this grant would fund the purchase of a fire extinguisher simulator training aid. The maximum amount of each grant is $3,000 and the deadline for applications is March 30, 2018.



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