DeKalb County’s 2012 budget is set at $559 million and does not require a tax increase, but commissioners on both sides of the 4-3 vote have problems with the budget.
The final budget passed on Feb. 28 restores some funds cut by DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis in his budget recommendation, including $500,000 to repair roads, $363,000 for senior centers, $180,000 for a grand jury investigation into the county’s watershed department and funds to unfreeze six animal control officer positions.
The commissioners also approved $2 million to cover the replacement of malfunctioning air masks used by the fire rescue department.
Commissioners Larry Johnson, Sharon Barnes Sutton, Lee May and Stan Watson supported the budget, while commissioners Elaine Boyer, Kathie Gannon and Jeff Rader voted against it.
In a statement released after the budget was passed, Ellis said he was “pleased” that the Board of Commissioners adopted a budget “largely based on his recommendations.”
“This budget will allow us to maintain essential services, particularly those in public safety, while rebuilding our reserves to $30 million,” Ellis stated.
Ellis said that “approval of the budget affirms the fidelity our four revenue projections.”
“We look forward to receiving an official report on property values in a few months, wherein we will make any necessary adjustments to the budget at mid-year,” Ellis stated.
Despite voting to approve the budget, some commissioners said they have reservations about those revenue predictions.
May, who chairs the commissioners’ finance committee, said Ellis’ predictions of a 5 percent drop in tax income are “overly optimistic” and have been off for the past three years.
In fact, home prices in the metro Atlanta area decreased 12.8 percent in 2011, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices released Feb. 28 before the board passed its budget.
Boyer, who voted against the budget said she could not “in good conscience” vote for a budget with faulty assumptions.
“We are going to have a digest, which in the past three years has been wrong every single time, estimated at 5 percent [decrease],” Boyer said. “Last year it was 12 percent.
“All you’ve got to do is drive around DeKalb County and see the empty buildings, storefronts, homes foreclosed,” Boyer said. “We’ve made assumptions on 5 percent, when last year it was 12 percent? That’s not good planning.”