DeKalb CEO Mike Thurmond recommended a no-frills budget Monday that eliminates the county government's deficit spending while increasing spending for police officer pay and cleaning up blight.
The $1.27 mid-year budget, which maintains the county’s current property tax rate, is scheduled for a vote by the DeKalb Board of Commissioners on July 11.
“The DeKalb County government has made significant progress in our efforts to improve quality of life,” Thurmond told commissioners June 6. “I can say without any reservation that our government is better positioned today than it was on Jan. 1,” when Thurmond took office.
Thurmond plans to save all of its new revenue, worth $21 million, rather than spend it. That action will allow the government to reach a long-held goal of keeping at least one month’s worth of operational funding in reserve.
Much of the increase in revenue comes from the rising value of property in DeKalb, resulting in higher tax bills for some homeowners and businesses. Residential real estate assessments went up nearly 8 percent this year.
The budget dedicates $1.6 million over the last four months of this year to increase salaries for police, firefighters and 911 employees based on their experience and skills. Over the course of a full year, that expense amounts to $4.8 million.
The budget also erases a $25 million deficit that was part of the annual budget passed in February.
In addition, the budget includes $1.2 million toward removing litter, boarding up vacant buildings, hiring code enforcement officers and demolishing blighted homes. Federal funding will pay to remove several burnt-out buildings at the dilapidated Brannon Hill condo complex near Memorial Drive.
All spending increases come from redirecting existing funds.
Mark Niesse covers voting rights and elections for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He also reports on the Georgia House of Representatives and government. He has been a reporter at the AJC since 2013 following a decade at The Associated Press in Atlanta, Honolulu and Montgomery, Ala.