DeKalb Eliminates Deficit Spending, Projects $75M Rainy Day Fund
Thursday, December 14th, 2017
DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond fulfilled a promise made in January to usher in a new era of government transparency and financial accountability by proposing a FY2018 budget free of deficit spending. The budget that will be delivered to the Board of Commissioners on Dec. 15 bucks the trend of county budgets that included millions of dollars of deficit spending and unstable or non-existent fund balances.
“We have gotten our fiscal house in order by ending deficit spending and building a $75 million fund balance, or rainy day fund. We must take the next critical step and address long-festering issues that are threatening to undermine the quality of life in DeKalb,” CEO Thurmond said.
The Thurmond administration’s top priorities for FY2018 include repairing DeKalb’s deteriorating roads and reducing homeowner property taxes using Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funds. Also, the proposed FY2018 budget calls for increasing the number of sworn police officers on patrol, preventing juvenile delinquency and improving customer service for residents who utilize county services.
According to county staffing reports, the number of DeKalb police officers has declined by 284 officers, or 28 percent, from 994 officers to 710 officers, since 2012. To increase the number of sworn officers, CEO Thurmond’s general tax fund budget proposes to relieve critical police officer shortages by revamping police recruitment efforts, developing a new recruitment marketing plan and adding hiring incentives. The budget also includes $7.9 million to fund 155 sworn positions above current staffing levels.
The administration’s proposed budget will also focus on preventing juvenile delinquency by coordinating and leveraging county resources to build capacity with existing community youth intervention programs. The comprehensive effort will utilize DeKalb recreation centers, libraries and WorkSource DeKalb to offer opportunities such as youth employment, afterschool programs and outreach to multi-lingual communities.
If the budget proposal is approved by the Board of Commissioners, all county employees whose salaries have not been adjusted since 2016 will receive a 2 percent increase in pay. A minimum wage of $14 per hour will also be established for all full-time and regular part-time employees. Even with the proposed enhancements, the FY2018 general tax fund budget of $603.3 million is projected to decrease by $3.2 million from $606.5 million in FY2017.
The revenue assumptions are based on an anticipated 3 percent growth in the ad valorem tax digest.
The Board of Commissioners will vote on the budget by Feb. 28, 2018.