DeKalb deficit climbs to $84 million

On Tuesday, county commissioners announced the county’s property values dropped about 7 percent.

“We’re looking an additional $20 million shortfall in DeKalb as a result of an incorrect tax digest,” Commissioner Lee May told commissioners. “The administration estimated the tax digest would remain flat. … We all can agree that what was being shown for revenues in 2010 budget is incorrect. It’s too high.”

County Finance Director Mike Bell said the county’s property values frequently fluctuate, but the recent assessment shows the values dropped about $1 billion. That drop was not factored into the initial budget prepared by CEO Burrell Ellis.

“All that does is make it a deeper hole to climb out of,” Commissioner Jeff Rader told the AJC.

Commissioners said they are committed to cutting the $84 million from the current year’s budget so they don’t have to raise taxes. The CEO has proposed a 1.86-mill increase.

Commissioners said Tuesday they are now looking at furloughs for county workers, unpaid holidays and expanding the early retirement program to include employees 45 and older. Other possible cuts include money to Grady Memorial Hospital and reserve funds.

The cuts must be made by Feb. 23.

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