“The budget adopted by the board addresses many of the major issues affecting our citizens while maintaining our find balance and lowering the millage rate,” Robb Pitts said.
The board voted 4-3, along party lines, to approve the budget during its Jan. 23 recess meeting at the county government complex in downtown Atlanta. A news release on the budget states it includes about $13.5 million for employee pay for performance bonuses as well as a 3 percent mid-year cost-of-living increase.
In the budget vote, Democrats joining Pitts in approving the budget were Emma Darnell, Natalie Hall and Marvin Arrington Jr. while Republications Liz Hausmann, Lee Morris and Bob Ellis opposed it.
The budget includes $719 million for the general fund and includes a number of enhancements to key Fulton programs including $4 million for behavioral health, $1.1 million for expansion of the county’s pre-arrest diversion program and $3.4 million for senior services, which includes $2 million for facility upgrades to senior centers.
Other elements of the budget included $1.5 million for public health services, which include enhanced resources for HIV/AIDS testing and treatment, $2 million for youth programming in the department of community services, $1.3 million for arts programming and $420,000 for the juvenile court for a youth crime prevention program.
Additional budget funding included $12,000 for adult day care services, $208,240 to enhance senior transportation services and $200,000 for means at senior centers.
According to Darnell, the budget is a vote by all seven members of the commission, “and it may be a misunderstanding that the members of the commission who voted no on this budget were opposed to all the priorities in the budget.”
“This budget not only reflects good financial management, but, by working together, we were able to meet our legal and moral responsibilities to all the people of Fulton County, including 12,000 senior adults whose incomes continue (to fall) below federal poverty guidelines,” she said.
Ellis said the last-minute $1 million in additional funding put in the budget, which included funds to enhance the TV and film industry,” was an embarrassment for the county as it included pet interests of some individual commissioners.”
Morris said he opposed the passage of the budget due to the fact that the budget proposed by the county manager was amended by the commission so much, “it was hard to keep track of it.”
“From the original proposed budget, those amendments increased spending by $34 million to $35 million and the way this increased spending was paid for was to take it out of contingencies for voting equipment,” he said. “My fear is this: we are not going to keep the millage rate at the planned reduced level when we got to this coming July.”