Commissioners approve addition of a $100,000 emergency contingency to the general fund budget

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – By the narrowest of margins, Dawson County commissioners voted Thursday to add $100,000 contingency to the general fund budget that County Manager David Headley will have the authority to spend in case of an emergency without receiving Board authorization.

Prior to the vote, Dist. 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines asked for three stipulations:  The expenditure would require dual signatures from CFO Vickie Neikirk and Headley, a maximum amount of $25,000 for each emergency expenditure with an aggregate amount of $100,000 annually and the expenditure be included in the public record at the next Board of Commissioners meeting.

Chairman Billy Thurmond, Dist. 3 Commissioner Tim Satterfield and Gaines voted to approve the contingency.

But Dist. 4 Commissioner Julie Hughes-Nix and Dist 1 Commissioner Sharon Fausett, who wanted Headley on a shorter leash, voted no.

Nix reminded commissioners that the money they spend is not theirs, but belongs to taxpayers and that commissioners should maintain a tighter control on spending.

“I would really like to know up front what it is,” she said. “I’m really guided by the fact that the money belongs to our citizens and we need to be more accountable.”

In other decisions, commissioners voted to approve a Landbridge Development, LLC request to rezone property located between Krystal and the movie theater just off Hwy. 400 from Commercial Highway Business to Residential Multi Family for the purpose of building five apartment buildings with 12 rental units each.

Commissioners unanimously approved Amber Popphan’s request for a variance to the Land Use Resolution that will allow her to build a mobile home on property of less than five acres that was given to her by her father.

The Board also approved a request by Planning Director Jameson Kinley to hire an Alcohol Licensing administrative assistant at a rate of $15.84 per hour.

Two weeks ago, the county received a low bid from CT Darnell to execute a design-build contract for Fire Station 9. However, no contract was awarded and since then, the county discovered it could save as much as $75,000 by entering into negotiations with Darnell. Commissioners unanimously agreed to allow the negotiation to proceed.

The Board also voted 4-0 to approve a local share commitment letter for Legacy Link.

Thurmond read a proclamation to celebrate Arbor Day on April 26. The event this year will be celebrated by the Dawson County Tree Preservation Committee and Keep Dawson County Beautiful planting a tree on April 26th and encouraging others to plant trees across the county.

 

 

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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Commissioners will vote on new meeting schedule Thursday

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — Dawson County Commissioners will vote Thursday on a proposal brought to the Board by Chairman Billy Thurmond that would limit commission meetings to just two days a week when they meet Thursday at 6 p.m. in the County Government Building.

In the past Dawson County commissioners have held meetings four times a month with work sessions and voting meetings held on alternate Thursdays. Work sessions are held for the purpose of discussing issues that will be voted on the next week. That has led to some voting sessions lasting less than 15 minutes.

Thurmond said rather than bring staff and citizens together for two very short voting meetings each month, it would be more efficient to hold work sessions and voting meetings on the same night.

If approved, future work sessions will be held at 4 p.m. followed by an executive session at 5 p.m. if necessary and a voting meeting at 6 p.m.

Thurmond said he proposed the change, “In an effort to make meetings more efficient and more productive.”

Commissioners will also vote Thursday on the hiring of an Alcohol Licensing Administrator at a pay range between $17 and $26.35 per hour. The position is currently frozen.

Other issues to be voted on Thursday include:

  • The hiring of Ross and Associates to conduct the land use resolution update the Board requested at a cost of $8,100;
  • A request by the 4H Rabies Clinic to hold the 5th annual parade and assembly on April 27;
  • Creation of a general fund contingency of $100,000 to be added to the 2019 budget.;
  • A request from MLH Farm/Uncle Shucks to hold a corn maze, sunflower maze and possibly a Christmas tree sale at their new location;
  • A request to surplus/demolish the Transfer Station weigh station modular office;
  • A presentation of the 2019 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) VI;
  • A three-party agreement between Dawson County, City of Dawsonville and Dawson County Humane Society on animal control;
  • A new pay schedule for Constitutional Officers;
  • An appointment to the Tax Assessors Board.

 

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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County Commissioners consider changing meeting schedule

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — In the past Dawson County commissioners have held meetings four times a month but that could change to twice monthly if they decide to adopt the proposal discussed at Thursday’s work session.

Currently, the Board holds work sessions on the first and third Thursday each month and a voting sessions on the second and fourth Thursday. During the work sessions, they discuss issues that will be voted at the voting session. But that has resulted in voting sessions that, at times, have lasted less than 15 minutes.

Chairman Billy Thurmond said rather than bring staff and citizens together for two very short voting meetings each month, it would be more efficient to hold work sessions and voting meetings on the same night.

If approved, future work sessions will be held at 4 p.m. followed by an executive session at 5 p.m. if necessary and a voting meeting at 6 p.m.

“Chairman Billy Thurmond he proposed the change, “In an effort to make meetings more efficient and more productive.”

Planning Director Jameson Kinley asked commissioners to authorize the hiring of an Alcohol Licensing Administrator at a pay range between $17 and $26.35 per hour. The position is currently frozen.

He also asked for $8,100 to hire Ross and Associates to conduct the land use resolution update the Board had requested. The department put the update out for bids. Ross and Associates was the sole bidder.

Commissioners heard a request by the 4H Rabies Clinic to hold the 5th annual parade and assembly on April 27.

Chief Financial Officer Vickie Neikirk requested Board approval to create a general fund contingency of $100,000 in the 2019 budget. Dawson County has had a contingency in the past but it was not included in the 2019 budget.

Generally, department heads would ask for money for their department and if she believed it to be in the county’s interest, she would present it to County Manager David could authorize the expenditure before presenting it to the Board as part of his County Manager report.

Other agenda items discussed include:

  • A request from MLH Farm/Uncle Shucks to hold a corn maze, sunflower maze and possibly a Christmas tree sale at their new location;
  • A request to surplus/demolish the Transfer Station weigh station modular office;
  • A presentation of the 2019 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) VI;
  • A presentation of a three-party agreement between Dawson County, City of Dawsonville and Dawson County Humane Society on animal control;
  • A presentation of the pay schedule for Constitutional Officers;
  • A presentation of a board appointment to the Tax Assessors Board.

 

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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Board of Commissioners schedules work session Thursday

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DAWSONVLLE, Ga. – Dawson County Commissioners will consider awarding a contract to Ross and Associates in the amount of $8,100 to update the county’s Land Use Plan commercial and residential zoning classifications when they meet for a work session at 4 p.m. in the Government Center Assembly Room Thursday (March 28).

The county sent our several request for bids but Ross and Associates’ bid was the only one received. Ross and Associates is the same company that conducted the impact fee study for the county.

Commissioners will also consider:

  • MLH Farm/Uncle Shuck’s application for a special event business permit to continue with its agritourism business, which includes a corn maze, sunflower maze, and this year includes the sale of Christmas trees this year. Uncle Shucks has relocated from its previous location on Hwy 53 to Bannister Rd (off Hwy 9 South;
  • A request by the 4H Rabies Clinic for a parade and assembly permit. This will be the fifth year that the Extension office has hosted the Rabies Clinic. Participants will drive into the courthouse parking lot off of Shoal Creek Road, park, register, return to vehicles and drive to the vet in the upper parking lot. They will then exit back onto Shoal Creek Road;
  • Hiring an Alcohol Licensing Administrator at a pay range of $17.00 to $26.35 per hour;
  • A request by Public Works Director David McKee to apply for the 2019 Local Maintenance and Improvement Safety Grant.to help pay for signing, striping and marking county roads. Georgia Department of Transportation has committed $100,000 for this project. The grant requires a 30 percent match from the county and the application must be submitted to GDOT by April 1;
  • A request to surplus/demolish the Transfer Station Weigh Station Modular Office now that commissioners have approved construction of the new Public Works Complex;
  • A presentation updating the 2019 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Program;
  • A request by Chief Financial Officer Vickie Neikirk for creation of a General Fund Contingency of $100,000 in the 2019 Budget;
  • Presentation of Board appointment of Tom Camp to the Board of Tax Assessors through 2019.

 

 

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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Thurmond’s vote is decisive in Crystal Falls development

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Against a unanimous recommendation of denial by the Planning Commission and despite the opposition of two county commissioners and a large number of area residents, the Dawson County Board of Commissioners voted Thursday to allow a developer to add 1,012 new homes to the Crystal Falls Lake and Golf Community.

The property is located west of Cowart Road between Yellow Creek Road and Kelly Bridge Road. In 2005, the owner developed a golf course in the community but since then, only five homes have been sold and the owner’s representative argues that his client is losing about $1 million per year to maintain the golf course.

A large number of area residents filed into the meeting room to express their opposition to the development. Some said it would destroy the quality of life in this mostly rural southwest corner of the county. Others complained about increased safety concerns and traffic congestion.

Commissioners Julie Hughes-Nix and Sharon Fausett joined with the crowd in opposing a request by Dawson Cherokee Capital, LLC to rezone 1,038.46 acres from Residential Sub Rural (RSR) to Residential Planned Community (RPC).

Commissioners Chris Gaines and Tim Satterfield voted in favor of the request, resulting in a 2-2 tie. Dawson County’s Chairman Billy Thurmond only votes when it is necessary to break a tie. In this case, he voted to allow the development to go forward.

In a phone conversation Friday, Fausett, who made the motion to deny the request, said, “I had a lot more phone calls and emails from people who did not want this than I did from those who supported it. My job is to represent them, if I didn’t, I would feel like I was not doing my job.”

Nix, who seconded the motion said, “When I was elected to this office, I promised to listen to the citizens who put me here. I listened and the people who are most affected by this development spoke very clearly, saying it will ruin their quality of life. That’s why I voted against it.”

Gaines said, “It was a tough decision, probably toughest decision I’ve had to make since being elected to the Board of Commissioners.”

Before the request was adopted, he added a series of stipulations aimed at making  the project less objectionable to opponents, including:

  • Reducing the number of entrances from three to two plus one for emergency vehicles only;
  • Developer is required to abide by the development of a regional impact study;
  • Developer must do another traffic impact study once 50 percent build out is reached;
  • Developer must pay $70,000 to help pay for a traffic light on Cowart Road once it exceeds acceptable traffic standards.

 

  

 

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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Crystal Falls development on Thursday BOC agenda

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — Dawson County Commissioners are expected to vote on a rezoning request that would permit construction of the 1,038-home Crystal Falls Lake and Golf Community when they meet Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Government Center Assembly Room, 25 Justice Way.

Dawson Cherokee Capital LLC, has requested rezoning 1,038.46 acres in the southwest corner of the county from Residential Sub Rural to Residential Planned Community for the development that would include a golf course, club hours, olympic-sized swimming pool, tennis courts and walking trails and a wastewater treatment facility to be maintained by Etowah Water and Sewer Authority.

The property is located west of Cowart Road between Yellow Creek Road and Kelly Bridge Road. Build out is expected to take 10 years with five phases being developed every two years.

A large and vocal group of stakeholders attended the Planning Commission meeting to express opposition to the development and another packed room can be expected to attend Thursday’s meeting. The Planning Commission recommended commissioners deny the rezoning request.

 

Commissioners will also consider:

  • A rezoning request by Jerry Fouts for the construction of a mini storage facility with 48 units;
  • An amendment to a portion of the Impact Fee Ordinance;
  • A request to Apply for Fireworks Tax Grant;
  • A resolution regarding defunding of In-House Legal Department Expenses for Westlaw Services.

 

 

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 will register opposition to two bills in General Assembly that would ban local government regulation of building standards

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – The Dawson County Board of Commissioners will join a growing number of local governments all across Georgia in opposing two bills now being considered in the General Assembly that prohibits them from regulating design standards on one- and two-family homes in their communities.

The Board will vote on a resolution opposing Georgia House Bill 302 and Senate Bill 172 during Thursday’s voting session which starts at 6 p.m. in the Government Center Assembly Room.

The bills are being promoted by developers and homebuilders. But opponents like Larry Hanson of the Georgia Municipal Association say the bills strip local residents of the right to govern themselves.

Commissioners are also expected to vote on acceptance of several grants, including Violence Against Women Act Grant, the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council K9 Grant, Council of Accountability Court Judges / Criminal Justice Coordinating Council Enhancement Grant for Dawson County Treatment Court and Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant

In other business, the Board will consider:

  • Awarding a contract for design-build services for Fleet/Public Works complex to Charles Black Construction in the amount of $3,289,777;
  • A request by Emergency Services Director/ Fire Chief Danny Thompson to purchase two fire trucks from Ten-8 Fire and Safety Equipment Co. in the amount of $1,301,038.
  • Approval of mobile device tablets for Emergency Services;
  • Approval of Board of Commissioners’ expenses;
  • Adoption of Capital Improvements Element of the Comprehensive Plan;
  • Annexation request os Dan S. and Vanita Anderson.

 

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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B0C approves reduction in impact fees and sets public hearing

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — New businesses wanting to move to Dawson County got a major break Thursday when the Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 to reduce impact fees by a whopping 75 percent. Chairman Billy Thurmond cast the deciding vote.

The issue still must survive public hearings on March 7 and March 21 before being implemented. Both hearings are set for 6 p.m.

It was only six months ago the Board voted to set impact fees at the maximum amount allowed  by law. But the Board dynamic has changed significantly since former Commissioner Jimmy Hamby retired in December and was replaced by Tim Satterfield. Hamby was a strong proponent of impact fees and voted to charge the maximum amount percent.

Chamber of Commerce President Christie Moore appeared before commissioners two weeks ago to request the reduction saying two businesses had declined to move to Dawson County because of the fees.

“Our concern was not that the commercial impact fees would hurt the large businesses, the Olive Gardens of the world, they are used to impact fees,” she said at the time. “But it could really hurt some of our attempts to attract some other organizations that we really want in our community.”

Impact fees are payments required by local governments of new development for the purpose of providing new or expanded public capital facilities required to serve that development.

The reduction also impacts residential development. Instead of a 75 percent reduction, residential developments would only be reduced by 25 percent.

District 1 Commissioner Sharon Fausett tried to get commissioners to consider a smaller reduction of 50 percent, but Chris Gaines, who made the motion said he felt the 75 percent reduction was the right amount.

“If we see that it hasn’t made an impact like the adverse impact that it’s made now at 100 percent, then we can look at increasing it at a future date,” Gaines said.

Fausett pointed out that Bill Ross of Ross and Associates, the firm that created the impact fee study and calculated the maximum amount the county could charge, told commissioners that impact fees do not slow growth.

“He’s an expert, and he’s done this for years and years and years. So if he made that statement, I wonder why it’s slowing growth here, and it’s not slowing it in other places” Fausett asked.

“We’re in kind of a boom now and I’d like to take advantage of that. Another thing that bothers me is that we as a board, we said we would seek alternate ways of (raising) revenue…if we said we were going to do it, I want to do it.”

Thurmond said that the sales tax money generated by businesses has allowed the county to maintain the same millage rate for the past 14 years.

The vote was 3-2 with Fausett and Nix opposed and Gaines and Satterfield in support. In Dawson County, the chairman is allowed to vote only in case of a tie. The public will have an opportunity to be heard on the issue in two weeks.

In other business, the Board voted 3-1 to censure Nix for disclosing confidential information to a county employee via email. Nix abstained from the vote and Fausett voted in opposition.

An emotional Fausett, who has been friends with Nix her entire life, said the resolution was too harsh and unnecessary. She spoke directly to Nix, saying, “I don’t think you’ll ever do this again, I still trust you, I’ve still got faith in you, I’ve still got confidence in you. You’ve had years and years of public service and I don’t want this to define you. I think you have been a part of great, great things for this county, and I appreciate what you’ve done.”

Nix said she accepted responsibility and publicly apologized for her action saying she had no desire to benefit herself or anyone.

“This was just done really to assist an experienced employee just packed with a knowledge and information, who I felt wasn’t getting all of the information needed to really do her job,” Nix said.

A motion of censure carries with it no penalty other than the written reprimand.

 

 

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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