By Ben Smith

The DeKalb County Board of Commisioners voted Feb. 22 to avert a property tax hike by cutting nearly $34 million from the 2011 budget.

However, hundreds of county employees could lose their job  to make up for the shortfall stemming from the board’s decision to reject DeKalb Chief Executive Offficer Burrell Ellis proposal to raise taxes by 2.32 mills.

The board voted 5 to 2 in favor of the no-tax-increase budget. Commissioners Jeff Rader and Kathie Gannon cast the only votes against the plan. The vote took place more than two hours after hundreds of county employees, including firefighters and police officers, packed into the Manuel J. Maloof Auditorium to urge the commissioners to preserve their jobs.

Library system staffers, code enforcement officer and fire rescue workers, among others, pleaded unsuccessfully with board members  to raise taxes if necessary, to save their jobs. It is not known how precisely how many jobs might be cut to balance the budget. County officials have said $34 million can fund 800 positions.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.