Proposed DeKalb budget includes raises for all county employees

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DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond presented his budget to the DeKalb commission on Tuesday. Photo: Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal Constitution/[email protected]

Thurmond’s budget proposal includes a 2% pay raise for approximately 4,100 county employees whose jobs are not related to public safety.

Commissioners are expected to begin debating the $752 million spending plan next month, and will approve some version of it in February.

Making the raises possible is an estimated $20 million increase in tax revenue for fiscal year 2020, Thurmond said.

Under Thurmond’s proposal, DeKalb would spend about $9.8 million on health care benefit increases for county employees and a $7 million cost-of-living adjustment for retirees in the county pension system.

The proposed raises for public safety employees are expected to cost an additional $5.4 million.

Thurmond said he is being “extremely cautious in terms of spending,” and is not suggesting any new employee hires or additional spending increases.

DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond speaks Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019, at a press conference to announce his proposal for 4% raises for public safety personnel in the county. Photo: TYLER ESTEP / [email protected]

Thurmond told commissioners that his budget is based on predictions that the Georgia economy is “going to slow dramatically very shortly.” He compared his approach to the fable “The Ant and the Grasshopper,” where the ant worked during the summer to prepare for winter while the grasshopper played.

In this case, according to Thurmond, the county is the ant.

“Looking at DeKalb County, we had to make some tough choices this year,” he said. “What, then, is our top priority? Our top property has been and continues to be enhancing and investing in public safety.”

Thurmond held a press conference two weeks ago announcing the proposed 4% pay bumps for public safety employees, which covers everyone from police and firefighters to probation and code enforcement officers.

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