DeKalb commissioners approved a 2018 budget that includes a minimum wage increase for hourly employees, raises for hundreds of other county employees and a plan to hire 155 police officers.
The Board of Commissioners approved the budget 6-1 with most commissioners praising the first spending plan fully crafted by CEO Mike Thurmond. Commissioner Larry Johnson praised Thurmond for presenting a balanced budget that includes $75 million in reserves despite the widespread salary increases and law enforcement outreach.
“This is not an easy process,” Johnson said. “And this is something I want to commend him on on what he’s done.”
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The plan includes over $600 million in general fund spending, down slightly from the year prior, the county expects to end the year with $78 million in reserves.
The budget includes increased funding for recreation centers, libraries and job programs that could help with preventing juvenile delinquency. The board approved amendment to the plan initially proposed by Thurmond that increased the number of employees that would receive raises, created new positions at the juvenile court and increased programming at senior centers.
Eight new positions were created in the troubled water and sewer department, and millions are being spent to update equipment.
Thurmond said he is happy that the budget — as well as the proceeds of one-percent SPLOST tax that will go to roads, bridges and transportation — will provide a benefit for DeKalb residents. That money will
“The best days are in front of us,” he said.
Commissioner Nancy Jester was the one “no” on the budget. She said the county needs to do more to make sure it can follow through on its plan to increase the ranks of police officers and fire fighters. Beyond any across-the-board raises, she is advocating for special pay and benefits for law enforcement.
“I think we need to look drastically at why we’re having problems recruiting the folks to fill the public safety positions,” she said.
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