County commission holds first split-session meeting

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. –  County Commissioners held their first split meeting Thursday, with a work session at 4 p.m. followed by an executive session then a voting session at 6 p.m.

During the voting session, commissioners approved the retirement of the Sheriff’s Office K9 Kimbo and transfer of the dog’s ownership to its handler, Jessica Kraft.

In other business, commissioners:

  • Read and approved a resolution to declare May 5-11 National Small Business Week;
  • Tabled a vote on a proposed contract with CT Darnell Construction for design-build services for Fire Station No. 9 until the May 16 meeting;
  • Approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Board of Education regarding use of a portion of the parking lot at the Public Works Complex;
  • Approved a services agreement with the Humane Society for treatment and housing of animals.
  • Approved an addendum to the 2019 Legacy Link contract for nutritional program services.
  • Approved the addition of $250,000 to the budget to pay for legal services provided by Jarrard and Davis;
  • Approved a request by Parks and Recreation Director Matt Payne to hold a county employees night at the county swimming pool on May 17;
  • Held a public hearing on Olive Garden LLC request for an alcohol license for retail consumption on premises of beer, wine and distilled spirits then approved the request;
  • Held the first public hearing on a land use resolution update. The second public hearing is scheduled for May 16;

During the work session, Public Works Director David McKee asked the Board to consider allowing his department to retain the services of ShepCo Paving Inc., an on-call, full-depth reclamation service.

Parks and Recreation Director Matt Payne presented a proposed agreement with the Rotary Club of Dawson County to provide the county with a venue that would house outdoor pickleball courts, batting cages, and an outdoor basketball area at Rock Creek Park.

Chief Financial Officer Vickie Neikirk presented a first quarter financial status report for 2019.

Development Authority of Dawson County Chairman Brian Trapnell presented an update of its activity which will be outlined in a future Fetch Your News article.
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
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 Commission begins new meeting schedule Thursday

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – The Dawsonville Board of Commissioners will begin its new meeting schedule Thursday with a work session set to begin at 4 p.m., followed immediately thereafter by an executive session and then a 6 p.m. voting session.

WORK SESSION

During the work session, commissioners will hear a request from Sheriff Jeff Johnson to retire the Sheriff’s Office K9 Kimbo and transfer ownership to the dog’s handler, Lt. Jessica Kraft. Dr. Katie Ferris of the Chestatee Animal Hospital has recommended Kimbo’s retirement for medical reasons.

Public Works Director David McKee will ask for Board approval to retain an on-call, full-depth reclamation service. An invitation to bid (IFB) was released with a sample job at Hightower Parkway at SR53 to the end of the pavement. The lowest, most responsive bid was submitted by ShepCo Paving, Inc. in the amount of $203,500. The pricing received for this sample project will be set for the life of the contract per job at $6.25 per square yard for 10” cement reclaimed base; $152 a ton for Portland Cement; $6 per square yard for haul-off excess material, if required.

Parks and Recreation Director Matt Payne, will present a proposed agreement with the Rotary Club of Dawson County to provide the county with a venue that would house outdoor pickleball courts, batting cages, and an outdoor basketball area at Rock Creek Park.

Payne will also ask commissioners to approve a Dawson County Employee Night at the county swimming pool on May 17. The Parks and Recreation Department has hired lifeguards and pool attendants for the 2019 summer season. To provide a great time for Dawson County employees and families, plus use the night as a training night for our lifeguards and pool workers.

County Chief Financial Officer Vickie Neikirk will give a financial status report for the first quarter 2019.

VOTING SESSION

During the voting session, commissioners will hold public hearings on an alcohol license for Olive Garden Holdings, LLC and updates to the county’s Land Use Resolution.

 Commissioners are expected to vote on a contract with CT Darnell Construction for design-build services for Fire Station 9 for an amount not to exceed $1,736,271 and approve the transfer of funds in the amount of $736,271 to this project.

 A services agreement with Dawson County Humane Society for Treatment and Housing of Animals will also be up for a vote. This agreement memorializes the county’s funding obligation and the Humane Society’s duty to provide housing and medical care services for impounded dogs and cats. The agreement does not obligate the County in 2019 for any money that has not already been budgeted.

The Board will also consider addendum No. 3 to the FY 2019 Legacy Link Contract for Nutrition Program Services. The addendum includes an additional $5,284 from Nutrition Service Incentive Program funding (NSIP State) to be used by year end.

Commissioners must also decide on increased funding for legal fees in 2019. In December 2018, the Board made the decision to utilize outside firm of Jarrard & Davis for legal services after the retirement of in-house attorney. There was $160,413 approved for the County Attorney budget for 2019. Those funds have already been used to pay for legal fees in 2019.

Because of increased need for legal services, as well as costs for clearing up outstanding issues, the county has exceeded the funding available to pay future invoices. Current amount left in the County Attorney budget for 2019 is $19,284. Estimated costs for remainder of 2019 (April – December) will be at least $250,000.

 

 

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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County budget approval postponed two weeks

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Approval of Dawson County’s $27.1 million FY 2019 budget will have wait a few more weeks after commissioners made several recommendations, including the elimination of one new position in the fire department, hiring the position of public information officer and extending library hours during Thursday’s third public hearing.

Commissioners voted to table budget approval while Chief Financial Officer Vickie Neikirk calculates the impact the recommendations will have on the final budget.

Chris Gaines

The proposed budget called for hiring a new fire training officer at a cost of approximately $61,000 annually. District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines recommended that current personnel provide the training in addition to their normal roles. He also proposed awarding the department an additional $15,000 of overtime pay to compensate officers for the additional responsibilities. The savings would be approximately $46,000.

“By allocating those resources, it would be a little more efficient,” Gaines said.

The county is attempting to address important needs that have existed for a long time but could not be addressed due to the recession and recovering economy.

Julie Hughes-Nix

“We’re trying to plug as many holes as possible and still be responsible with the citizens’ money,” Gaines said. “My goal and my desire is to go into next year’s budget with the mentality of how can we not ask more of the citizens when it comes to property taxes.”

County commissioners have long felt the need to improve communications with the public and District 4 Commissioner Julie Hughes-Nix recommended the county hire a public information officer to perform those responsibilities.

District 1 Commissioner Sharon Fausett asked for a breakdown of cost to provide extended hours for the Dawson County Library’s satellite office on Hwy. 53. “I don’t think it speaks very well of us when people come and it is closed,” she said.

Shron Fausett

The satellite office is currently opened on Mondays from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. and Thursdays from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m.

No citizen rose to speak in opposition to or in favor of the budget.

Commissioners voted 3-1, with Dist. 2 Commissioner Jimmy Hamby opposed, to postpone several requests for annexation of property into the city of Dawsonville for two weeks.

Commissioners unanimously approved:

  • A request to accept a 2019 Victims of Crime Act Grant funds in the amount of $74,088.84. No county match is required;
  • A request to apply for a Department of Natural Resources Land & Water Conservation Fund Grant to repair/replace the fishing pier at War Hill Park. The minimum fund grant that can be applied for is $25,000. The maximum grant if $100,000 and the county will have to provide a 50 percent match;
  • A request to hire a legal assistant. The position is already included in the 2019 budget, but the request is to fill the position this year at an additional cost of $6,956.20 for five pay periods through the end of December;
  • A Service Delivery Strategy Agreement;
  • A request by Michael Turner, executor for the estate of Kenneth K. Turner to have property located at the intersection of Perimeter Road and Allen Street annexed into the City of Dawsonville. The Dawsonville Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the issue on Oct. 8. The Dawsonville City Council will hold a public hearing on Oct. 22 and the annexation could be awarded final approval on Nov. 5;
  • A request by Board of Tax Appraisers Chief Appraiser Elaine Garrett to approve a contract for the services of an additional appraiser for the current year and next tax year.

 

 

 

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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Decision on sheriff, county rift continued to Feb. 15

Business

Judge Fred A. Bishop asked Sheriff Johnson and the county commission to meet again, but if differences can’t be resolved, he will rule on the petition for mandamus by Feb. 15.

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – The bitter dispute between Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson and the Board of Commissioners will not be resolved until at least Feb 15.

After a two-day hearing in Senior Superior Court Judge Fred A. Bishop’s courtroom, Johnson’s attorney Joey Homans and County Attorney Lynn Frey agreed to have the sheriff and county officials meet again to see if they can resolve their differences.

“It seems to me there ought to be a face-to-face sincere sit down here between the two parties to see if there is some middle ground,” Bishop said. If the two sides do not agree, Bishop said he would render “an appropriate judgment.”

Homans petitioned the court for an order of mandamus to force the county to provide what he calls “a budget sufficient for the sheriff to perform his sworn duties.” In presenting his case Tuesday, Homans accused the county of “abuse of discretion” because commissioners made cuts to the sheriff’s proposed 2018 budget.

Homans rested his case Wednesday morning. Frey then made an opening statement before calling his only witnesses — Chief Financial Officer Vickie Neikirk and Board of Commissioners Chairman Billy Thurmond.

Frey began by stating the sheriff received 29 percent of all available funds in the 2018 budget. He also said Johnson got the largest increase of all general fund budgets and did not receive a cut in the previous year’s budget as Johnson has claimed.

Neikirk confirmed Johnson did receive an increase in his 2018 budget and that he received an increase in every line item but one.  She also pointed out that the county’s tax revenue today is considerably lower than it was in 2008, before the recession, when it was about $12 million.

Thurmond testified that funds are tight. It cost the county $1 million to implement an across-the-board salary increase for county employees to address serious retention problems, he said. He also said the county was informed that it would cost an additional $300,000 to insure employees in 2018. Asked why the county didn’t approve the sheriff’s proposed budget, he said, “There wasn’t enough revenue.”

Asked about the positions that are frozen within the sheriff’s office, Thurmond said the sheriff has the authority, as a Constitutional officer, to fill those positions and that money can be moved from his line items to pay for salaries.

In his closing statement, Homans said, the Board of Commissioners abused their discretion in the cuts made to the sheriff’s proposed budget. “They really haven’t presented any evidence other than to say we don’t have the funds,” he said.

However, Frey countered by saying, “There is no reason to believe there has been an abuse of discretion, certainly nothing that would be a basis for mandamus or order to give more money to the sheriff. Mandamus is only available in a case of a clear legal right, and I don’t think he has shown a clear legal right to anything more than what they have given him.”

 

 

 

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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County Set to Begin Property Revaluation Process

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Dawson County is about to undertake a massive property revaluation and equalization project that could take up to two years and cost more than half a million dollars. County commissioners will discuss the project during Thursday’s work session which begins at 4 p.m.

Equalization is the process of bringing about conformity to a common standard so the property of one shall not be assessed at a higher or lower percentage of its fair market value than the property of another. Some 15,000 parcels, 12,000 residential homes 1,800 commercial/industrial properties and 200 pre-bill mobile homes will be included in the project.

This will be the first time the county has contracted the work. Georgia Mass Appraisal Solutions and Services (GMASS), the only company to bid on the project, submitted a bid of $588,300.

Chairman Billy Thurmond will ask the Board to consider approval of a professional services agreement with Georgia Mountains Regional Commission (GMRC) in the amount of $1,000 to prepare and submit a Community Development Block Grant regarding Senior Center Expansion. If approved, funding would come from the Grant Fund Contingency for potential grants.

Finance Director Nancy Neikirk will ask the Board to approve a budget amendment in the amount of $869,006, most of which is related to the reimbursement the county received for the 2015 winter storm clean up ($652,994). Approximately $36,000 is related to the 2016 compensation increase approved after the 2016 budget was adopted. About $48,364 is for Risk Management’s Special One-time Return for Safety. The remainder is attributed to donations received in 2016 as well as carryover of donations from the prior year.

Other items on the agenda include:

  • Presentation of Fire House Subs and Chick-fil-A Dawsonville Fund Raising Opportunities to Support Dawson County Emergency Services;
  • Presentation of a request to surplus three fire apparatuses;
  • Presentation of Scrap Tire Storage and Disposal Draft Ordinance;
  • Presentation of Dawson County Rotary Club request to contribute handicapped accessible playground equipment for the playground at Rock Creek Park;
  • Presentation of FY2017 Legacy Link addendum;
  • Presentation of FY2018 Legacy Link contract;
  • Presentation of a revised travel policy;
  • Re-appointment of Susan Roof to the Library Board.

Commissioners do not vote on agenda items during a work session. The purpose of a work session is to discuss items that may be voted on at the next regular meeting.

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Commission Will Have to Amend 2017 Budget to Implement Employee Pay Raise

News

Vickie_NeikirkDAWSONVILLE, Ga. — Dawson County Chief Financial Officer Vickie Neikirk told the Board of Commissioners during Thursday’s work session that implementation of the salary study approved earlier this month would require an increase in the 2017 budget of $374,441.

The salary study calls for a 2% cost of living allowance (COLA) for all employees, placement into range with a moderate progression and a payroll effective date of April 8, 2017.

Fleet Services Director Shannon Harben recommended the Board amend the current Take Home and Vehicle Policy to eliminate future verbal agreements or special conditions. Those verbal agreements currently in effect would still be honored.

Harben also requested Board approval to dispose of surplus items to be sold with the proceeds to be put in a vehicle replacement fund per current policy.
Public Works Director David McKee presented commissioners with a request to issue a purchase order to Bobcat of Atlanta for a Bobcat Excevator in the amount of $64,876.48 through a cooperative agreement with National Joint Powers Alliance (NJPA).

Emergency Services Chief Lanier Swafford asked the Board to approve a contract with Lux Mitigation and Planning Corp., the most responsibe, responsible bidder, in the amount if $18,000 for preparation of the Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan.

Commission Chairman Billy Thurmond read a presentation declaring April as LifeLink National Donate Life Month.

The Board is considering the appointment of the following to the Long Range Planning Committee: Gary Pichon (Chairman), Ronnie Adkins, Teri Tragresser, Jane Graves, Hugh Stowers, Jo Brewer, Tim Costley, Mandy Power and Dick Scharf.

Work sessions are held every two weeks for the purpose of allowing commissioners to discuss and debate issues that can be voted on during the regular sessions which are also held every two weeks.

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