MARIETTA — Citing an unusual bit of fiscal maneuvering, the Cobb Board of Commissioners rejected a request from District Attorney Flynn Broady’s office for additional staff at Monday morning’s work session.
Broady, pointing to a growing backlog of cases and what he called a spike in violent crime in Cobb County, asked the Board of Commissioners to approve funding for two assistant district attorneys, two legal administrative specialists, one investigator, and one criminal intelligence analyst position.
But the rub was in the funding. In the proposal, Broady’s office asked for the positions to be paid for using leftover budget funds. Last week, a county spokesperson confirmed this was not a typical use of such funds, which usually go to building maintenance.
County Manager Dr. Jackie McMorris warned the commissioners of the implications of approving the request.
“This is setting precedent,” McMorris said. “We have never used one-time money for reoccurring costs … but at the end of the day we also know that once you open that door, it is very difficult to close it.”
Broady pushed back and argued for the immediate need to fill the positions, saying, “We really need 18 positions, but we know that the county cannot handle that right now … that’s why we’re doing it in phases, six at a time, to get our office to where it should have been probably ten years ago.”
The commissioners didn’t bite. Commissioner JoAnn Birrell suggested the matter be tabled until the budget talks for fiscal 2022, when the board will have to decide which of 84 staff requests to fill. Her colleagues agreed, and Broady’s request was taken off the agenda.
The work session was led by the board’s vice chair, south Cobb Commissioner Monique Sheffield, while Chairwoman Lisa Cupid prepared to give her State of the County address. As Sheffield moved through the agenda to the appointments section, the ongoing dispute over board appointments resurfaced with Commissioner Keli Gambrill’s nomination of Jim Barner to the Development Authority of Cobb County.
“I think it’s premature to be appointing to the Development Authority until we decide how the appointments are going to be split,” Birrell said, referring to the commissioners’ ongoing efforts to standardize the nomination process.
“Well, in that case, we should be not having any board appointments be done, because those need to be addressed as well,” Gambrill said. “Because if it’s going to be every board member being able to put forth a name, that has not happened.”
County Attorney Bill Rowling interjected, saying his office was working to prepare a resolution laying out the process for new appointments. But Birrell and Gambrill continued to trade words.
“Nobody else knew that there was going to be an opportunity to bring forward another candidate. This is only one candidate that you’re appointing, and you already have an appointment,” Birrell said.
Gambrill shot back, “If this has been communicated clearly to all of us, then you should have known that you could have submitted a name as well.”
“Let’s just pull it,” Sheffield said. “I don’t know that we’re going to resolve that issue right now.”
For this week, at least, the development authority position will remain unfilled. The Board of Commissioners’ next meeting will be Tuesday at 9 a.m.