DeKalb commissioners pass budget

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Includes raises for public safety personnel

According to DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond, it doesn’t matter what you say is your priority, where your money is going reveals the “real” priority.

Thurmond, who had his proposed mid-year budget passed by the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners July 11, said the budget puts its money where its mouth is.

“The proof is in the pudding,” said Thurmond, while discussing his budget with commissioners.

The budget is set to address some of the county’s issues such as blight and an increase in public safety salary, Thurmond said.

The county plans to address public safety increases with a three-year strategy for pay scale, salary compression, recruitment and retention. More than $7.2 million of existing funding will be redirected to operational needs and to fund public safety pay packages, county officials said. Roughly $1.6 million will be dedicated to the first phase of addressing public safety employee compensation.

“The first step will improve the salaries of nearly 1,000 front-line public safety employees. Public safety is paramount and the CEO recognizes every employee is important and we want to continue to develop compensation packages,” Thurmond said.

The budget also funds “operation clean sweep” and addresses blighted properties in DeKalb County. Buildings at Brannon Hill condominiums are set to be demolished in July and local funds will be used to do so.

“This is going to be a collaborative effort,” said DeKalb County Director of Beautification Marcus Kellum. “It’s very difficult to understand the impact of [this property’s] debris, trash, illegal dumping and the fleas. It’s a little overwhelming, but with the support of commissioners we can begin to tell the story that we’re working on remediating these conditions.”

Though many spoke in favor of the CEO’s budget, some felt the budget does not fully address some of the county’s key issues.

DeKalb County resident Joe Arrington said he wants commissioners to vote in the best interests of residents.

“I’ve been coming to these meetings a long, long time. Longer than you’ve been on the commission. You’re not going to make any changes [to the budget] and we know it.

It’s a process and we know it,” Arrington said. “Just like the CEO said, the numbers in your budget reflect your priorities.”

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