Natalie Hall wants Fulton County to provide assistance to residents in its Community Services Program at $6.3 million, the same level of grant funding as last year.

The problem is the county last month approved its 2020 budget, which includes only $5.36 million in funding for the program, which through grants to local nonprofits aids residents in five categories: children and youth services, disabilities, economic stability/poverty, homelessness and senior services.

“How did this funding go down to $5.36 million? What happened to the other money?” Hall, the Fulton Board of Commissioners’ District 4 representative, said at its Feb. 19 recess meeting at Assembly Hall in downtown Atlanta.

County COO Anna Roach replied by saying this year’s budget did not include program funds added to the 2019 budget after it was approved.

“We made the recommendation based on the budget adopted by the full board. … Enhancements were not included in the budget.”

Then Hall motioned to amend the program’s funding so it would be equal to the 2019 funding, and District 6 Commissioner Joe Carn also asked to increase the funding to $6.3 million. After a lengthy discussion on whether or not Hall’s motion was a friendly, or casual amendment or a serious one and the 2020, board Chair Robb Pitts chimed in.

“Ladies and gentlemen, please,” he said. “The budget has been approved. This is silly. We can continue. We’re not going to have this fight every time” there’s a funding issue.

But Hall disagreed.

“We approve things (amendments) within the budget after it’s approved. This is not anything new,” she said.

When the board voted on Hall’s amendment, it was 3-2 in favor, but with four votes needed to approve or deny any agenda item, it failed. District 1 Commissioner Liz Hausmann was absent, and the Neighbor is awaiting word from the county for confirmation on who voted yes and no and who abstained.

Then the board voted on approving the original agenda item with the $5.36 million in funding, and that vote also failed 3-1, with Ellis, Morris and Pitts in favor, Carn against and Arrington and Hall abstaining.

Carlos Thomas, the program’s division manager, said the 2019 funds went to 84 nonprofit partners, and this year’s monies will be distributed among 105 organizations.

The item could be voted on by the board again at its next meeting March 4.

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