Lee May

Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May is recommending a 2015 budget that includes no tax increase, the county said in a press release Dec. 12. May submitted his budget to the county’s commissioners with a tax rate for unincorporated DeKalb set at 21.21 mills, the same millage imposed by the county since 2011, the county said.

The proposed budget contains 43 new positions.   Forty-one are for improvements to customer service in the water billing department.  The other two positions are from grant- related positions which are expiring this year.

The total proposed operating budget is $1.132 billion, roughly the same as the 2014 operating budget, the county said  The total tax funds budget is proposed at $544 million, a 2.1% decrease over the $555 million budget in 2014.

Here’s the county’s release:

Interim CEO May Announces 2015 Recommended Budget

Budget preserves 2014 priorities, no tax rate increase

DECATUR, Ga. – Interim CEO Lee May released his 2015 Recommended Budget to the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners (BOC) today.  The budget maintains the tax rate for unincorporated DeKalb at 21.21 mills, a rate that has stayed the same since 2011.

“The economy is showing signs of rebounding, but I prepared this budget with a cautious attitude as recoveries can be erratic,” Interim CEO May said.  “Having said that, our 2015 recommendation preserves the improvements we made in 2014 in public safety, community beautification, economic development and accountability in government.”

The proposed budget contains few new positions.   Forty-one of the forty three new positions are for improvements to customer service in the water billing department.  The other two positions are from grant related positions which are expiring this year.

“I also wanted to maintain our focus on improving customer service in the county,” said Interim CEO May.   “This budget dedicates $1.5 million to improving the county’s purchasing system and an additional $827 thousand toward improving the permitting process.  This makes DeKalb more business-friendly and promotes job growth. ”

Interim CEO May added, “We are facing other pressures which make it so that the county isn’t in a place to add too many more new positions.   Incorporating last year’s 3% pay raise for employees added $5.8 million; pension contributions added $8.6 million; and health insurance added $1.2 million to this year’s obligations.”

Even within those constraints, the 2015 Budget Recommendation maintains the commitment to funding critical county services.  Although sales tax contributions for HOST capital improvements were reduced with only $1.5 million going to the county with the rest going to cities, the proposed budget adds an additional $3.5 million for a total of $5 million in road resurfacing.

The 2015 Budget Recommendation was created with some assumptions that may be decided upon by the county.  In sanitation, DeKalb County may decide to implement single day garbage collections or face a possible fee increase.

“My proposed budget does not propose a fee increase, which assumes that the BOC will agree to a revised garbage collection schedule.  If the will of the people is to keep things as they are, the budget will have to be amended,” Interim CEO May said.

May’s total proposed operating budget is $1.132 billion roughly the same as the 2014 operating budget.  The total tax funds budget is proposed at $544 million, a 2.1% decrease over the $555 million budget in 2014.   All of this is accomplished without proposing a tax rate increase.

The budget is legally due to the Board of Commissioners by Dec.15, but Interim CEO May set and internal deadline of December 12 to submit it, giving the BOC additional time to evaluate all critical components of the budget.  The BOC has until February 28, 2015 to pass it.

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.