Pay raises and longer library hours approved in DeKalb budget

The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners approved 4 percent raises for government employees Tuesday as part of the county's $1.38 billion midyear budget.

The raises will go to more than 3,000 employees who didn’t already receive a pay increase earlier this year. The commission voted in February for 4 percent pay raises for about 2,800 police, fire, 911, watershed and sanitation employees.

The raises will cost $17.1 million annually and $11.4 million to cover May through December of this year.

The budget also includes $491,972 to restore night and weekend hours at public libraries across the county.

Library hours were cut five years ago, when branches opened and expanded but the county didn’t hire additional staff.

The county's property tax rate remained unchanged, though many residents are facing higher tax bills because assessed property values have increased.

Overall, DeKalb's mid-year budget is $57.6 million, or 4.4 percent, higher than the budget passed in February. The largest part of new spending is going toward long-planned water and sewer infrastructure improvements.

Spending from tax funds is increasing by about $6 million, or less than 1 percent of the $606 million dedicated for general government operations.

The board voted 5-1 to pass the budget, with Commissioner Nancy Jester opposed to the spending plan.