DeKalb hopes to land money on D.C. trip

The DeKalb County CEO, four commissioners and at least two staff members will spend the next few days in Washington, D.C., trying to secure federal funding.

CEO Burrell Ellis and the commissioners will attend the National Association of Counties annual legislative conference on Sunday through Wednesday.

“It’s about interacting with the federal agencies and White House staff to advocate for Community Development Block Grant and stimulus money,” Commissioner Lee May told the AJC.

The trip comes a little over a week after the commission passed a budget with $84 million in cuts, including unpaid holidays and cuts in health services, employee cars, libraries and other areas. May said he hopes he can access funding to help with those cuts.

The total cost for the trip is about $8,500.

That includes airfare, hotels, conference registration and meals for Ellis, CEO’s spokeswoman Shelia Edwards, board of commissioners’ chief of staff Morris Williams, along with Commissioners Larry Johnson, Sharon Barnes Sutton, Kathie Gannon and May, according to Johnson.

Ellis and the commissioners will meet with the congressional delegation on Wednesday.

May, who chairs the association’s community and economic development committee, will meet with the secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to talk about distributing Section 8 housing equally through communities.

Johnson, who serves as vice chair of the association’s health committee, said the ideas he gains at the conference more than make up the $1,200 he is spending from the county’s budget. Last year, he implemented a prescription card that saved DeKalb residents $300,000 after he got the idea at the conference, he said.

This year, he hopes to get programs to support prenatal care and lower infant death rates in DeKalb, along with stimulus funds to help MARTA and Grady Memorial Hospital. He will be meeting with the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Edwards said the CEO’s trip is focused on expanding the association’s influence in federal policy and ensuring that counties get their fair share federal resources. Ellis serves on the association’s executive committee and is running for second vice president.