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Decide DeKalb approves 2024 budget at March board meeting

Business DeKalb County

Decide DeKalb approves 2024 budget at March board meeting

The Decide DeKalb board approved its budget on March 14. Screenshot obtained via Decide DeKalb

By Grace Donnelly, contributor

DeKalb County, GA — The board of Decide DeKalb Development Authority, the county’s economic development body, approved its budget for fiscal year 2024 on Thursday. 

The total expected revenue for 2024 is $3.64 million, remaining relatively flat compared with the year prior. Of those funds, more than half come from allocations by the DeKalb County government and the DeKalb Tax Allocation District (TAD). 

Total projected expenditures for this fiscal year total $3.5 million, which is also largely unchanged from the 2023 budget. Decide DeKalb President Dorian DeBarr noted that the authority needs to begin renewing its five-year strategic economic development plan during this fiscal year, which necessitated a slight increase in consulting expenses. The 2024 budget also increases spending on employee benefits. 

Here are additional details about the 2024 budget:

Image obtained via Decide DeKalb. The column to the right shows the expenses in the budget approved on March 14.

In his report to the board, DeBarr highlighted interest in senior housing and in converting unused office space in DeKalb for better uses, but he said much of the economic development activity could be delayed until the second half of this year. 

“As expected, 2024 has gotten off to a slow start with respect to investor activity around markets, commercial real estate, and such,” DeBarr said. 

Due to uncertainty around inflation and when—or whether—the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates, “everyone appears to be in a wait-and-see position,” he said. 

Decide DeKalb is working on one data center project, though the county doesn’t have the available undeveloped land to attract many of those facilities, DeBarr said. The authority is also assessing housing projects, including a luxury senior housing proposal. 

“Within the next 18 to 24 months, we’re going to see a lot of our office space that is currently underperforming being converted into a higher and better use,” he said. He expects that Decide DeKalb will be asked to help cover some of the cost gaps to convert those properties to housing or some other purpose.

The economic development team currently has two open RFPs. The first, which closes on Friday, March 22, is to create a Welcoming DeKalb strategy to make the county more friendly to immigrant- and refugee-owned businesses. The second RFP, which seeks to find a partner to administer the loan and technical assistance program, closes the following week. Vice President of Economic Development Randi Mason said that the team hopes to have those partners selected and ready to present to the board at the May board meeting.  

The DeKalb Entertainment Commission shared that 22 applications and 18 permits were issued for filming projects in February. DeBarr and board member Andrew Greenberg said this shows a steady interest, though filming activity is still lower than pre-pandemic levels. 

“DeKalb is doing better than other locations… the main concern for me is that there are a lot of DeKalb citizens who work in the film and TV industries who are certainly underemployed right now,” Greenberg said. “Finding ways to support them will be key if this continues for more than a few months.” 

The Decide DeKalb board will meet virtually again on April 11 at 11:30 a.m. Board chair Don Bolia said the meetings will be held in person in May, September, October, and November, with the rest of the monthly meetings occurring online. Find a full calendar of meetings here

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