DeKalb budget beefs up public safety, libraries

DeKalb County Commissioners unanimously approved interim CEO Lee May’s amended 2014 budget Thursday, which increases spending in some areas while also holding the largest amount of money in at least four years in reserve.

The $584 million spending plan holds taxes steady at 21.21 mills, a stated goal of both May and the commission for the final budget to be adopted this summer.

ABOUT DEKALB'S BUDGET

WHAT’S BEING CUT?

This year’s budget cuts $10.9 million across various departments and also defunds 66 vacant positions across departments, saving $5.6 million.

WHICH SPENDING WILL GROW?

Public safety, code enforcement and libraries all get a boost in this budget.

  • Police and fire spending increases in this budget by $6.6 million and $2.9 million, respectively, to hire 160 police officers and 100 firefighters to keep up with attrition.
  • The budget sets aside at least $750,000 to refurbish 50 police patrol cars and up to $2.5 million for 50 new patrol cars that will be rolled out as take-home vehicles for officers later this year.
  • Code enforcement spending increases by $570,000 to hire seven additional code officers and one new administrative assistant. With the increase, DeKalb will have 30 officers to inspect more than 200,000 homes in the county.
  • The county’s 22 libraries will get $400,000 more to buy books and other materials. The total for 2014 will be $600,000, a 200 percent increase from last year.

DOES ANYONE GET A RAISE?

  • For the first time in seven years DeKalb employees could see raises. The budget will hold $3.35 million in a special reserve account, to give half-year raises to county employees as of July 1.
  • The budget also sets aside $40,000 for a staffing study update, to examine possible job reductions among the pool of 7,300 employees.

WHAT ABOUT THOSE POTHOLES?

DeKalb’s maintenance backlog will get a boost. The budget creates a $1 million account for the county to fill potholes and pave pockmarked streets.

WILL THERE BE ANYTHING LEFT FOR SAVINGS?

The budget moves $15 million into reserves, bringing that account to $47 million. Three years ago, that account was at zero.

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