City Council approves mayor’s pay raise, 3-1

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – The Dawsonville City Council voted 3-1 Monday (Feb. 4) to approve an amendment to the city charter that will increase the mayor’s salary from $600 to $1,000 per month starting in 2020.

Councilman Mark French, who has opposed the pay raise from the beginning, cast the dissenting vote.

Other changes to the city charter approved by last night’s vote include language to better describe how council members are to be elected following the addition of new posts and that they must live in their district for at least one year prior to being elected.

The provision in the amendment that would have increased council members salary from $500 to $600 was stricken before the vote was taken.

French’s motion to table a vote until after the state legislature passes or rejects it died for lack of a second.

Attorney Kevin Tallant, whose Cumming-based law firm Miles, Hansford and Tallant represents the City of Dawsonville, said, “I don’t believe it’s necessary to table it until after the legislature acts. I understand your request but I don’t see a legal impediment to you moving forward.”

To which French replied, “Just because something is legal doesn’t always mean it is the right thing to do.”

French voiced several objections to the amendment. He pointed to wording on the first page that states: “Whereas the charter of the City of Dawsonville has not been substantially revised since its passage in the Georgia Legislature since April 1996 …”

“That is not a true statement,” he said. “It was amended in Dec. ’17.”

Regarding the pay raise, he said, “I do not think this is justified. I do not support it and I will not vote for it.”

He also objected to Section 5.11e which calls for the creation of “four council member districts of approximately equal population.”

French said, “The districts have already been created so there is no need to recreate them. These districts were approved by this council at our June 4 regular meeting in 2018.”

Tallant expressed frustration at French’s objections. Three times, he seemed to scold him for not raising the objections earlier.

“First of all, I’ll say I am a little disappointed this is the third reading and second public hearing and this is the first time I’m hearing some of these things. I’m certain these things could have been brought up before.”

Later when Tallant said, “Again, that’s something that could have been brought up earlier if you had a concerns about it.”

French quickly shot back, “Anybody. It could have been brought up by anybody. Mr. Tallant, I suggest you not question my timing.”

“Understood,” Tallant responded.

There was also a tense exchange between French and Councilman Jacob Phillips when French wanted to know who proposed raising the mayor’s salary.

“On the record, I have talked to every one of the council members, including yourself and no elected official I know brought this up,” Phillips said.

“So how did it get there,” French asked. “I think when you’re spending the people’s money, you ought to be able to tell them how these things transpired.”

 

 

 

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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City Council set to backtrack on reduction in mayor’s pay

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — In a complete reversal of its Dec. 2017 decision to slash the mayor’s pay, Dawsonville City Council members are now expected to vote for a substantial increase not only in the mayor’s pay, but for each council member when they meet Monday at 5:30 p.m. at city hall.

Councilman Mark French has been adamantly opposed to the pay raise since the idea surfaced during a public hearing on Jan. 7.  Two weeks later, during the second public hearing, French said, “I would like to state my continued opposition to any increase for the mayor or any member of the council.”

In a phone interview with Fetch Your News the next day, French said, when the mayor’s pay was reduced, we were told the reason was the city had just hired – for the first time — a city manager who would take over many of the mayor’s responsibilities. “But now council is looking to increase the salary and no additional duties have been added,” he said.

If the increase is approved, it would nearly double the mayor’s pay to $1,000 per month plus $150 for a city council meeting and another $150 for each additional meeting pre-approved by city council. Council members’ pay would increase from $500 to $600 per month plus an additional $150 per city council meeting and $150 for an additional meeting per-approved by council. All that is in addition to approximately $20,000 in insurance benefits the mayor and council now receive.

A number of people have questioned why city council has backtracked on the issue.

Former Mayor James Grogan thinks he knows the answer.

Grogan has said the pay reduction was politically motivated. In 2016, Councilmen Jason Power and Caleb Phillips and former Councilwoman Angie Smith voted to oust Grogan from office for alleged violations of the city charter. Grogan went to court to get his job back, but lost.

He says when Phillips, Power and Smith got word he planned to run against then interim mayor Mike Eason in a special election they voted to reduce the pay to deter him. Grogan did run again, but was defeated by Eason.

In other action under the consent agenda Monday, council is expected to approve:

  • The Get Your Glow On 5k Race scheduled for Mar. 8;
  • A special event alcohol permit for Georgia Racing Hall of Fame for Mar. 2;
  • Auditing services RFQ;
  • Construction Management Services RFQ;
  • Storm water Facility Management agreement;
  • A motion to table the parking project at city hall.

Under New Business, council is expected to vote on:

  • An amendment to the garbage service ordinance;
  • Red Oak Sanitation contract;
  • Calculation of service charge for garbage service.

 

 

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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Dawsonville City Council wants to increase pay for mayor and council members 13 months after voting for a decrease in pay

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Mike Eason

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — Just 13 months after the Dawsonville City Council voted to reduce the mayor’s pay from $2,000 to $600 per month all but one council member now wants to increase the pay for the mayor and each council member.

By a vote of 3-1 during last night’s council meeting council approved the second reading of an amendment to the city charter that would nearly double the mayor’s pay to $1,000 per month plus $150 for each city council meeting and another $150 for each additional meeting pre-approved by city council. All that is in addition to approximately $20,000 in insurance benefits the mayor and council now receive.

If approved, the pay raises would not become effective until Jan. 2020.

A third reading and public hearing is set for Feb. 4 and, if approved, each council member also would receive an increase from $500 to $600 per month plus an additional $150 per city council meeting and $150 for an additional meeting per-approved by council.

Councilman Mark French — who was not on the council at the time the mayor’s pay was reduced, — voiced strong opposition. “I would like to state my continued opposition to any increase for the mayor or any member of the city council,” he said.

Mark French

In a phone interview Wednesday, French said when the mayor’s pay was reduced, we were told the reason was the city had just hired – for the first time — a city manager who would take over many of the mayor’s responsibilities.

“But now council is looking to increase the salary and no additional duties have been added,” he said.

Former Mayor James Grogan has said the pay reduction was politically motivated to discourage him from running against current Mayor Mike Eason.

Grogan was removed from office by a vote of city council members who alleged he violated the city charter. He was replaced by Mayor Eason, who served on an interim basis until he defeated Grogan in the special election in March.

Eason said Wednesday, “I don’t know why council decided to reduce the mayor’s pay. I had nothing to do with that. That vote took place on my very first meeting as interim mayor.”

Eason also said to his knowledge nothing has changed with regard to the responsibilities of mayor and city council since the pay reduction was approved.

 

 

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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Tolson, French join Dawsonville City Council

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From left, City Attorney Dana Miles, Stephen Tolson, Jason Power, Mayor Mike Eason, Caleb Phillips and Mark French

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – The Dawsonville City Council made major changes in both leadership and policy during the final meeting of 2017 Monday.

Two new city councilmen – Mark French and Stephen Tolson – took the oath of office, replacing Angie Smith and Mike Sosebee.

City Attorney Dana Miles congratulates Stephen Tolson (left) after he was sworn in.

Tolson is a retired U.S.  Army Ranger with a master’s degree in healthcare administration. He currently manages a Cumming medical group.  French earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from what is now the University of North Georgia. He has 20 years of experience in public service, having served 10 years in Lumpkin County’s finance department and 10 years as that county’s grants analyst.

Before the new councilmen were seated, Councilwoman Angie Smith and Councilmen Caleb Phillips and Jason Power approved changes to the city charter that will reduce the mayor’s pay from $2,000 to $600 a month, create voting districts and change the way city council members are elected at-large to election by district. Councilman Mike Sosebee voted against the changes.

Mark French (left) sworn in as new city councilman.

The new council voted unanimously to keep Power as Mayor Pro Tem.

Council also approved alcohol beverage licenses for Discount Package Store at 2131 Hwy. 9 and El Rio Mexican Café at 69 Hwy. 9 South.

 

 

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. 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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Dawsonville Voters Sweep Incumbents Out

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – In Dawsonville, voters swept the incumbents out of office Tuesday and elected two newcomers to city council. In a four-way race where the two candidates with the most votes are elected without a runoff, Mark French won with 159, followed by Steve Tolson with 134, incumbent Mike Sosebee with 118 and Angie Smith with 105.

It is difficult to determine whether or not Tuesday’s election results reflected the anger of voters over city council’s decision to impeach popular Mayor James Grogan. Smith led the charge to vote Grogan out, but Sosebee was the only council member to vote in favor of keeping Grogan.

Grogan announced recently that he plans to run for re-election in a special election early next year.

French has 20 years experience in public service. He spent 10 years working in Lumpkin County’s Finance Office and 10 years as the county’s grants analyst before entering the private sector. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from what was then North Georgia College and State University where he majored in Finance.

Tolson is a U.S. Army Ranger who retired after 20 years of service. He earned a Master’s Degree in Health Administration and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. He now manages a medical group in Forsyth County.

DAHLONEGA

Former City Councilman Sam Norton’s decision to give up his seat to run for mayor paid off as he received 73 percent of the votes in a three-way race. Norton received 675 votes to defeat Rajpal Sagoo with 151 votes and Michael Clemons with 96.

Incumbents Roman Gaddis and Michael Ridley kept their seats on city council. Gaddis received 479 votes to defeat Johnny Ariemma who had 390 in Post 1. Ridley received a tough challenge from runner up Dewey Moye, but retained his Post 3 seat with 402 votes to Moye’s 351. Wesley Barron collected 138 votes.

In Post 2, Helen Fincher Hardman defeated Penelope Sharp 585 votes to 290.

JoAnne Taylor was the winner in Post 5 with 422 votes followed by Noah Steinberg with 264 and Alan Roach with 221.

CLEVELAND

There was no election in Cleveland. Incumbent City Councilman Bradley Greene and Kevin Stanley qualified unopposed in Wards 3 and 4, respectively. Stanley will replace Edward Young on city council.

 

 

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. 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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Four Candidates Qualify for City Council Race

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Councilman Mike Sosebee will seek reelection in Nov.

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Qualifying for the 2017 city-wide, non-partisan municipal elections ended Thursday with two incumbents and two new candidates entering the race for city council.

Incumbent Angie Smith will seek her second full term in office. She was appointed to the board in 2012 and won her first election in 2013. Mike Sosebee has served on and off city council over the past 30 years.

The newcomers are Stephen Tolson, who lists his profession as healthcare administrator and Mark French, an office manager.

The election is scheduled Tuesday, Nov. 7 between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. All city voters will vote at the Dawsonville precinct, Dawson County Board of Elections Office; 96 Academy Avenue in  Dawsonville.

If you have any questions about your voting status, go to “My Voter Page” @ http://www.mvp.sos.ga.gov/MVP/mvp.do or call the Elections & Voter Registration office at 706-344-3640.

Fetch Your News will post profile articles on all the candidates in the coming weeks and provide the most comprehensive news coverage of all the races.

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. 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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4 Candidates Vie in City Council Candidate Forum

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Four candidates running for Dawsonville City Council presented the reasons they believe they should be elected during the candidate forum at the Dawson County Performing Arts Center Tuesday.

The event was hosted by the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce. Reporters from Fetch Your News, Dawson News and Smoke Signals served as panelists. Chamber President Christine Haynes was the moderator.

The incumbents, Councilwoman Angie Smith and Councilman Mike Sosebee, made their case based on their experience in holding public office. The challengers, Mark French and Stephen Tolson, presented strong and relevant work experiences.

City Council candidates (from left) Mark French, Angie Smith, Mike Sosebee and Stephen Tolson. (Photo courtesy of Dawson County Chamber of Commerce).

French has 20 years’ experience in public service. He spent 10 years working in Lumpkin County’s Finance Office and 10 years as the county’s grants analyst before entering the private sector. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from what was then North Georgia College and State University where he majored in Finance.

French said the biggest challenge for Dawsonville is “how to engage more participation from the people we serve.” He suggested the best way to do that is to make sure the meetings are more open to the public. “I’d like to see the website updated so that those who have a different work schedule will at least have an opportunity to see what is going on in their community,” he said.

He also stressed the importance of working in cooperation with county government to develop a more aggressive revitalization plan for downtown. “I believe that can be the springboard to our future,” he said. “It would also allow an opportunity for controlled, managed, quality growth.”

Tolson is a U.S. Army Ranger who retired after 20 years of service. He earned a Master’s Degree in Health Administration and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. He now manages a medical group in Forsyth County.

He said his management experience would be an asset to city council. “As a manager, the evaluation of business needs, planning and forecasting needs for the future and executing those plans is a big part of my responsibility.”

During his military career, Tolson said he participated in many short- and long-term planning sessions. “I believe that experience can be beneficial on city council,” he said. “I also attended a number of military training schools that teach you to utilize your decision-making process and problem solving techniques and to introduce a little common sense into the process.”

Smith, a lifelong resident of Dawson County, is seeking her second full term in office. She was appointed to the board in 2012 and won her first election in 2013.

In her opening statement, she expressed a commitment to honoring the community’s heritage and to personal honesty and integrity.

“I want to work hard to see this community grow and prosper,” she said. “To me, our heritage is extremely important. We have to remember those who came before us and who laid the ground work for us to be successful.”

Smith added, “Service with integrity is a goal of mine. Honesty to a fault is what you’ll get from me. It’s not always about the end result. It’s not always about the list of accomplishments. It’s about how that work was done and the honesty and integrity you carry yourself with.”

Candidates had divergent opinions when asked about the impeachment of Mayor James Grogan that took place earlier this year. Grogan was removed by a 3-2 vote of city council, but the removal is currently under appeal.

Candidates were asked if three council members should possess the power to override the vote of citizens of Dawsonville or if that decision should be left up to the voters.

Smith, one of the council members who voted to remove the mayor, said, “We can always have a conversation about how things need to be changed of if they need to be changed. But the fact of the matter is when you are sitting in office, you have a set of rules that guides you and that set of rules is what you are charged with fulfilling.”

Tolson said, “Certain decisions that are made should be offered up to the citizens. There are many circumstances that council should be able to make a call but in a situation of this nature, I really do think it should be offered to the people.”

French said, “It occurs to me that just because something is legal doesn’t mean it is right. I believe being a good public servant means you should listen to the community and get their input. I believe it merits an evaluation of all sides. Not just the leaders’ side.”

Sosebee, who voted against removing the mayor, said, “We are representatives of the people and we need to have a lot of input from the people to help us make decisions…not just those of us who sit on the council trying to make all the decisions.”

 

 

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. 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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City Council Candidate Forum Tuesday, Oct. 3

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. –City of Dawsonville residents will go to the polls next month to choose two people to represent them on City Council. You can learn more about the candidates by attending the City Council Candidate Forum Tuesday, Oct. 3 at the Dawsonville Performing Arts Center, 1665 Perimeter Road.

The event is being hosted by the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce, Fetch Your News, Dawson News and Smoke Signals. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with the forum set to begin at 6 p.m.

There are four candidates for the two positions being contested. Candidates run at-large and the two who receive the most votes will be elected to four-year terms. Voters will vote for two of the four candidates.

The candidates are incumbents Angie Hammond Smith and Mike Sosebee. The challengers are Mark Wade French and Steve Tolson.

Members of the media will ask questions, some of which may you may submit to info@dawson.org

Election Day is Nov. 7. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. All voting will take place at the Dawson County Board of Elections, 96 Academy Avenue. The deadline to register is Oct. 10.

Advance voting will begin Oct. 16 and will take place Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. through Nov. 3.

 

 

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. 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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