In its ongoing effort to address budget shortfalls, DeKalb’s Board of Commissioners wants an audit of every job in the county’s government.
During a budget retreat on March 24 at Agnes Scott College, the board agreed that a desk audit is needed to identify “duplication of work and opportunities for reclassification of positions,” according to a proposed resolution.
The county will ask a third-party firm to audit each county department and gather information about positions, workloads, responsibilities and job descriptions. The board wants the audit complete before the next budget process begins in August.
“We need to see if our staffing levels are what we need for our county,” said Morris Williams, the board’s chief of staff.
During the retreat, a budget resolution approved by the board and DeKalb’s Chief Executive Officer Burrell Ellis last year was discussed. In the resolution, the board outlined its priorities for the 2011 budget before the budget was formulated. Of the 12 priorities of the board, commissioners said two were not followed.
One priority was the proposing of a tax increase only after extensive government restructuring. The board requested that the CEO provide a base budget without a tax increase and a list of “program modifications”—services that the county should provide but would require a tax increase.
Commissioners said they wanted to see specifically what a tax increase would fund.
“This has been an issue—how the budget is presented,” said Commissioner Lee May, who chairs the county’s budget committee. The budget Ellis presented to the board in December called for a 12 percent property tax increase.
The board of commissioners voted on Feb. 22 to cut $33.64 million from the proposed budget, thereby eliminating the need for a tax increase.
The budget cuts 8.9 percent from most departmental budgets. The budget of the fire and rescue department was cut by 29.41 percent, while the sheriff’s office and police department each were cut by 4.46 percent. The human resource department’s budget was cut by 25 percent.
Another priority the board said was not met by the county administration was the request that a five-year forecast be included in the budget. County Finance Director Joel Gottlieb told the commissioners that the forecasts will be included in next year’s budget.
May said the purpose of the budget retreat for commissioners and the county’s administration was to create a “higher-level vision” for the government’s finances.
“We are trying to fix the fundamental flaws in the organization and structure and how it relates to our budget,” May said. “I’m trying to open up communications because we haven’t been communicating.”
During the retreat, the commissioners talked with representatives from each department to determine whether government expenses can be decreased.
Budget cuts “should not be draconian cuts,” May said. “That’s not the way to make cuts.”
Commissioner Larry Johnson said the county’s budget needs the additional scrutiny because of the loss of revenue during the recession.
“There are very tough times; the money is not coming,” Johnson said. “We have to do this each and every year.”