Cobb approves record $1.2B budget over conservative opposition

Commissioners vote 3-2 to approve increased spending.

The Cobb County Board of Commissioners voted along party lines to narrowly pass the county’s largest-ever budget by a 3-2 vote.

The $1.2 billion spending plan passed with the support of the three Democrats on the board. Republican commissioners Keli Gambrill and JoAnn Birrell voted in opposition.

The budget includes pay raises for county employees, new positions to fill understaffed departments and an unchanged property tax rate that will result in higher bills for some home owners because of rising values.

The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

Gambrill cited a “philosophical difference in budgeting,” and said the spending plan will expand the government.

Soaring home values have resulted in an estimated $51 million of additional property tax revenue. The board directed funding toward revamping much-needed county services and staffing departments, many of which have faced backlogs of work orders and 30% to 40% vacancy rates.

Cobb residents voiced concern over both the millage rate and the increased spending ahead of what some fear will become a recession.

“A lot of us are cutting back, trying to figure out ways to cut back, but you are spending, full speed ahead,” John McLean said to the board.

Chairwoman Lisa Cupid heard concerns at town hall events across the county from residents desperate for county services like road maintenance and stormwater repair, but many also spoke out against the property tax increase some will face.

“The taxpayers are the sole beneficiary of those funds,” Commissioner Monique Sheffield said to the public at Tuesday’s meeting. “We’re not spending money recklessly.”