Dahlonega Finance Department earns Certificate of Excellence

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Chris Hollifield of Rushton & Co. CPA

DAHLONEGA, Ga. – “The numbers look very good for the city.” That is how Chris Hollifield, of Rushton and Company CPA, assessed the city of Dahlonega’s financial status at this week’s City Council meeting.

In presenting the 2017 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), Hollifield said the city had earned the Certificate of Excellence from the Georgia Finance Officers Association (GFOA), something achieved by less than 30 percent of municipalities nationwide and only one percent of those in Georgia.

Finance Director Melody Marlowe said, “I’m most proud of the city’s stability in financial trends, strong earnings and our solid reserves.”

The city has a fund balance of $4.2 million, with about $2.6 million being unassigned, which represents approximately 10 months of reserves.

CAFR is a set of U.S. government financial statements comprising the financial report of a state, municipal or other governmental entity that complies with the accounting requirements promulgated by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB).

City Council gave unanimous approval to:

  • The appointment of five cemetery board members;
  • A special event alcohol license for the Bear on the Square Festival April 20 to 22;
  • A special event alcohol license for the Dahlonega Arts and Wine Festival May 19 to 20;
  • Creation of a holiday that coincides with the county when Veterans Day falls on a weekday; and
  • Amending the alcohol license fees for Class 1 wholesale wine sales.

Council also awarded certificates to Ralph Prescott and Jimmy Anderson in recognition of their work with the Historic Preservation Commission.

There was also a discussion about the need to make improvements to Wimpy Mill Park and to come up with an appropriate name. No decision was reached.

Dahlonega City Council presents certificates to Ralph Prescott (center left) and Jimmy Anderson in recognition of their work for the Historic Preservation Commission.

 

 

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City to consider opioid epidemic resolution Monday

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DAHLONEGA, Ga. – The Dahlonega City Council will consider approval of a resolution to help increase public awareness of the opioid crisis that has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S. when it meets Monday, Feb. 5, at 6 p.m.

Opioid addiction and abuse is a growing problem with devastating consequences. Since 1999, the sale of prescription opioids has nearly quadrupled in the U.S. In 2015, nearly 40 percent of Americans were using prescription painkillers. Approximately 91 Americans die daily from opioid overdose and 17.7 percent of Georgia’s high school students report taking prescription painkillers.

The resolution states: “The City of Dahlonega, acting through the City Council supports local, state and federal efforts to combat the opioid crisis and will seek to raise awareness within its jurisdiction regarding this public health emergency.”

Spring festivals are fast approaching. Two of Lumpkin County’s most popular spring festivals — the Bear on the Square Mountain Festival April 20 through 22 and Dahlonega Arts and Wine Festival May 19 and 20 – have applied for special event alcohol licenses. Those applications are expected to be voted at Monday’s meeting. Council also will consider amending the city’s alcohol regulations to allow Sunday sales beginning at 11 a.m.

A representative from Rushton & Company CPA will present the Audit and Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2017.

Wimpy Park is back on the council’s agenda. Residents of nearby Sky Country have expressed concerns regarding parking hazards. Council is awaiting the results of its grant application that should help address those concerns.

 

 

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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Dahlonega City Council to discuss special event fees

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DAHLONEGA, Ga. – The election of a mayor pro tempore, appointment of an ethics board and the establishment of special event permit fees in the city will be among the items to be decided at a meeting of the Dahlonega City Council Monday, Feb. 5, at 6 p.m.

Special event permit fees to be considered include permit application fee ($300), refundable damage deposit ($500). Additional fees may be charged for the use of water and electricity at the Hancock Park Pavilion as well as an hourly fee for city employees who assist in coordination of special events.

Council will consider a repurposing of the 2020 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) and is expected to take action to call an election on May 22 for the purpose of submitting to the voters of the county for their approval of the SPLOST to commence on April 1, 2020.

State law requires that prior to the voter referendum, municipal projects be authorized through intergovernmental contracts with the country.

Other items to be considered include:

  • A declaration of Official Intent to Reimburse Costs of Acquiring Equipment with Tax Exempt Financing;
  • An amendment to the resolution regarding employment contracts for department heads;
  • A joint city/county proclamation recognizing and honoring Brian Denney for his service as chairman of the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau;
  • The appointment of Karl Goellner to the Historic Preservation Commission;
  • A report from the Dahlonega Downtown Development Authority; and
  • The appointment of DeEnna Walters and Sabrina Walker to Dahlonega Downtown Development Authority 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. 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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New mayor, council members take oath of office

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Judge Raymond George administers the oath of office to Dahlonega’s new Mayor Sam Norton.

DAHLONEGA, Ga. – The Dahlonega City Council will take on a slightly different look in 2018.

Mayor Gary McCullough officially ended nearly three decades of service to the city, including three terms as mayor, during Tuesday’s council meeting. Sam Norton was sworn in to replace him. Norton served as the Post 5 councilman before stepping down to run for mayor.

Norton paid tribute to his predecessor, saying, “The city and all its accolades are a direct reflection of previous governments, which you were an important part of, and I want to thank you again for your service.”

Norton also thanked Mayor pro tem Bruce Hoffman for taking over after McCullough suffered a stroke.

“I want to thank Mayor pro tem Hoffman,” Norton said. “He was a very good mayor pro tem for the last couple of years. He got leaned on a lot more than I think he signed up for. You did a very good job and thank you for doing that.”

Helen Hardman, retired tourism professional and grant writer, is the newest addition to city council.

She took the oath of office along with incumbent councilmen Roman Gaddis and Mitchell Ridley.

Jeff Brannon was sworn in as city marshall. He has a strong background in law enforcement, having worked for sheriff’s offices in Hall, Clarke and Lumpkin counties and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

During the first meeting of 2018, council unanimously adopted a new eight-page ethics ordinance.

Council also reappointed Vivian Morse to the Lumpkin County Board of Health and Janet Tolbert to the Dahlonega Housing Authority.

 

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JoAnne Taylor will be sworn in as newest councilwoman during Monday meeting

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JoAnne Taylor joins city council Monday

DAHLONEGA, Ga. – The Dahlonega City Council will ratify the results of the Nov. 7 election when it meets Monday at 5 p.m. at City Hall, 565 Riley Road.

JoAnne Taylor, a local volunteer and retired corporate executive, will be sworn in as the new representative for Post 5. Taylor worked for IBM for 32 years where she was vice president of the global telecommunications industry segment.

Council also will take care of some year-end business like approving the meeting dates for 2018, which remain unchanged, and renewal of the probation contract with Northeast Georgia Probation Services from Jan. 1, 2018, through Dec. 31, 2018.

Staff has recommended, and council is expected to vote on, approval of an event permit for the first Dahlonega Science Festival, to take place at multiple locations within the city limits. The permit will be subject to the new event fees council will establish later this 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. 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 discusses new permit fees for 2018

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DAHLONEGA, Ga. – Dahlonega’s City Council failed to achieve a quorum at last week’s scheduled work session and, instead, held what it called a “community meeting” to discuss issues to be voted on during the next regular meeting.

Council members discussed a change in special event permit fees to take effect in 2018. City staff recommended a three-tier, permit fee system based on the following: Type A events (5,000 or fewer attendees) would require a $500 permit fee and $300 parking fee; Type B events (5,000 to 25,000 attendees) would require a $1,000 permit fee and $550 parking fee; Type C events (more than 25,000 attendees) would require a $1,500 permit fee and $1,750 parking fee.

One organization that will apply for a special event permit in 2018 is the Dahlonega Science Café (DSC). According to the group’s Facebook page, it is dedicated to bringing fun, informative, thought-provoking meet-ups and talks from real working scientists to the community. Those talks are held in the Bourbon Street Grille on the square in Dahlonega.

The group is planning the Dahlonega Science Festival for March 23-25 to take place at multiple locations in the downtown area, including Hancock Park and Holly Theater. Organizers say their goal is to bring together University of North Georgia faculty, students, local businesses and organizations and people within the community to provide a stimulating environment for informal science learning.

Event activities would include the UNG faculty presenting a series of Science Café talks along with other invited speakers and UNG science students hosting hands-on science activities for children.

Staff also recommended renewal of the city’s probation services contract with Northeast Georgia Probation Services, Inc.

These and other issues are expected to be voted on at the next regular council meeting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Council to Vote in Intergovernmental Agreement Today

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DAHLONEGA, Ga. — An intergovernmental agreement between the City of Dahlonega and Lumpkin County to conduct municipal elections, departmental reports and consideration of alcohol beverage permits will highlight Monday’s meeting ot the Dahlonega City Council at 6 p.m.

Council will hear reports from the Historic Preservation Commission, the Planning & Zoning Department, Code Enforcement, Finance and the Downtown Development Authority.

Alcohol Beverage Licenses will also be under consideration for Kaitlyn Vanhoff, Jody Meldon and Tyler Barnes of Four Country Vineyards d/b/a Accent Cellars, Farm Winery Manufacturing and Farm Winery Tasting Room, Chestatee Artists, Inc. d/b/a Dahlonega Arts and Wine Festival Special Event Alcohol Permit Wine Tasting and Wine Package Sales, Georgia Farm Wines, LLC d/b/a Taste Dahlonega for Wine Package Sales and Ancillary Wine Tasting , Sur De La Frontera for Beer, Wine and Distilled Spirits for Consumption on Premises and Aramark Educational Services Off Premises Alcohol Catering Permits.

Freddy Welch will appeal a decision rendered by the Historic Planning Commission February 15, 2017 denying his request to paint a building at 198 North Grove Street.

Council will also consider approval of the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

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City, County Agree on Service Delivery Strategy

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DAHLONEGA, Ga. — The City of Dahlonega and Lumpkin County have reached a verbal agreement on a service delivery strategy (SDS). The SDS determines which services the county will provide for the city and what the city will pay for those services.

The strategy, which awaits the signatures of Mayor Gary McCullough and Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Chris Dockery, calls for the city to pay Lumpkin County $50,000 annually for supplementary fire services, $8,000 annually for supplementary law enforcement services and a 10 percent court add-on fee for jail construction and staffing for housing inmates and to cover medical expenses.

At Thursday’s City Council meeting, Cumming attorney Dana Miles, who served as a neutral arbiter between the two governments, said, “I’d like to congratulate city and county officials for coming together so flawlessly in getting this done. This is the way government should work.”

The next item on the council’s agenda — a proposed policy change for festivals and parades — met with a little more resistance. City Manager Bill Schmid presented the draft proposal as representatives of Gold Rush Days, Arts & Wine Festival and Trail Fest listened intently.

The policy, which represents a recommendation of the Planning Department and Downtown Development Authority. It takes into consideration the impact these events have on downtown businesses and the cost of city services needed to support them. It recommends festivals be divided into three categories based on the number of people in attendance and implements permit and parking fees.

Category A would apply to attendance of 5,000 or less and would cost organizers $500 for the permit and $300 for parking. Category B would apply to festivals with an attendance up to 25,000 and would impose a permit fee of $1,000 and parking fee of $550. Category C would apply to events over 25,000 and would impose a permit fee of $1,500 and parking fee of $1,750.
Festival organizers argued their events benefit the local economy and help to promote the city in a positive way.

A representative of the Arts & Wine Festival pointed out that their event is strictly non-profit and that their advertising and budget for this year had already been spent. She objected to the parking fee, saying the city doesn’t charge a parking fee for other visitors. She also pointed out that their fest did not bring food vendors purposely because they wanted visitors to frequent local restaurants.

Representatives of Gold Rush Days suggested that the fees not be imposed until 2018 and that a committee be formed with city officials, business leaders and festival organizers to write the final draft.

Schmid stated the proposed policy is just a first draft and more input would be sought before any action was taken.

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