Cobb OKs $405M budget, slashing funding to worried nonprofits

Credit: Ben Brasch/AJC

Credit: Ben Brasch/AJC

A teary-eyed father of a special-needs child. A mother of an opioid addict. A man who thinks the government shouldn’t fund nonprofits.

Those were some of the 42 people who spoke to Cobb County commissioners at its Friday meeting before the board voted to pass a $405 million 2018 budget that cuts $1.1 million of grants to nonprofit organizations.

Blowback from that decision dominated two hours of public comment, most about all the good done by the charities now not receiving grants.

“We can’t give you what we don’t have, which is money, because of the millage rate,” Commission Chairman Mike Boyce said.

Boyce said the nonprofits couldn't be funded because commissioners rejected his proposed tax increase 3-2 last month.

By the same vote, the board approved the budget Friday; commissioners Bob Ott and Lisa Cupid dissented.

More than a dozen people at that meeting fumed over the cuts, given the county's use of public dollars to pay for the Atlanta Braves' new SunTrust Park.

“We’re paying lots of money for that not-required amenity today,” Cupid said Friday. “ … When the people up here really want to do something, they’ll find the fortitude to do that.”

The budget uses a one-time injection of $21 million, which doesn’t address recurring expenses.

Cobb will use the injection to fund county employee pay raises and to pay off bonds for park land, both of which the county doesn't know how they'll fund next year.

“For us to be in this situation that we’re in today is not only mind-boggling but somewhat shameful,” Cupid said.

Boyce said that commissioners will work out options — a tax rate increase, a reduction in services or a combination of the two — at their October retreat.

The 2017 budget was $384 million.

At their Friday meeting, commissioners also approved Ross Cavitt, former Channel 2 Action News reporter who mostly covered Cobb and is a longtime resident, as its new communications manager. Cavitt's annual salary is $123,000, according to the county.

Cobb board unanimously approved authorizing staff to submit the 2040 plan to the Atlanta Regional Commission. The next step for the document, which accounts for the county's future growth, is final approval by the Cobb commissioners.

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