Sparks fly between commissioner and county CEO during DeKalb County Commission meetingDeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond. Photo by Dean Hesse.
DeKalb County, GA – The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners, at its Feb. 22 meeting, approved the county’s 2022 operating budget, but not without an argument between Commissioner Ted Terry and CEO Michael Thurmond.
Thurmond said he believes the county has one of the strongest fiscal foundations it has had in several decades.
“Overall, the good news is that we will maintain two months’ fund balance of approximately $137 million at the end of this fiscal year,” he said. “Taxes are not going up, our fund balance is strong and through our EHOST program we will be fully funded to relieve and mitigate the tax burden of ad valorem taxpayers in the state of Georgia.”
Terry wondered why the county was not separating the frontline pay bonuses based on priority.
“What I’ve heard from our residents, from our constituents, from our own officers that we don’t have enough people responding to 911 calls, that we don’t have enough officers to respond to the Flock camera pick-ups,” Terry said. “I wonder what the strategy is of saying every public safety officer gets this bonus, when clearly the true frontline police officers, where we have the biggest gap in capacity, aren’t getting more incentive.”
Terry added that the watershed and sanitation employees were hoping the county could help them, but the budget process didn’t allow for that, in Terry’s opinion, as the budget public hearings have taken place in the mornings on a weekday.
“How are our constituents to give any feedback or input when we scheduled a public hearing for when they’re at work,” Terry said. “I’m concerned that we haven’t had any town hall meetings.”
In response to the question, Thurmond said he would look into the scheduling of the meetings and get back to the board.
Terry added he would support a budget amendment that gives frontline bonuses to watershed and sanitation workers.
“I don’t see how we can sit up here and say that heroes of our sanitation workers out there on the front lines, and we’re basically relegating them to standard status,” Terry said.
Thurmond has heard from one employee about receiving a bonus, he said. The sanitation workers received their first raise before Terry was elected.
During the discussion, Terry accused Thurmond of not answering his question as both were going back and forth, interrupting each other.
“After you talked for 20 minutes about nothing, you’re going to interrupt me. That’s the most disrespectful thing I have had to face, and I’m not dealing with it today,” Thurmond said. “I will respect you and answer you if you give me the opportunity.”
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