CEO Thurmond highlights plan to end deficit spending

June 8, 20174min510
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DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond

DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond presented his vision to commissioners on June 6 for ending deficit spending and building the county’s fund balance.

“With the support of the Board of Commissioners, we will end deficit-driven budgets, encourage transparency, strengthen accountability and build a sustainable fund balance,” CEO Thurmond said. “I am committed to proposing a fiscal year 2018 budget that will eliminate deficit spending in DeKalb County.”

The vision was presented in Thurmond’s overview of the proposed 2017 mid-year budget adjustment to the Board of Commissioners.

“Deficit budgeting and inadequate fund balances have severely undermined our ability to plan and finance improved service delivery and employee salary, benefit, and pension structures,” Thurmond said.

The proposed mid-year budget adjustment, which will be delivered to commissioners on June 12, will include an investment of “additional funds that will give the county at least one month’s worth of operating revenue in the fund balance,” Thurmond said.

The county’s ability to adopt a balanced budget in fiscal year 2018 depends on 2017 mid-year budget decisions, Thurmond said.

Other goals of the administration’s fiscal year 2017 mid-year budget proposal are to improve public safety salaries, implement Phase II of Operation Clean Sweep and address unbudgeted needs. Enhancements or adjustments will be achieved by redirecting existing funds within departmental budgets.

In addition to the mid-year adjustment for public safety, Police, Fire Rescue and E911 are developing three-year strategies to address pay scale, salary compression, recruitment and retention.

To implement the second phase of Operation Clean Sweep, the proposed mid-year budget expands the current effort to include other aspects of blight reduction, including abatement of 50 blighted properties (houses and lots) using county funds. In addition, there are 23 houses scheduled for demolition using both federal and local funds. This will be the first time that local tax funding is used for this purpose. Included in the demolition are several burnt-out, unsafe structures within the 368-unit Brannon Hill condominium complex.

The first phase of the ongoing Operation Clean Sweep has resulted in the clearing of more than 200 tons of debris from more than 45 miles of roads and streets, and the sweeping of more than 190 miles of roads by street sweepers. Additionally, more than 500 bags of trash have been collected and 30 illegal dump sites eliminated and barricaded.

“Operation Clean Sweep was one of the major accomplishments of the first half of the year,” Thurmond said.

Other accomplishments include:

Substantial progress toward resolving the county’s water billing crisis, including:

  • Independently verifying and releasing 8,000 previously held bills.
  • Corrected the multiplier error that caused extraordinarily high bills.
  • Recruiting, hiring and training additional customer service and field technicians.
  • Establishing plans to routinely replace aging meters.
  • Identifying a vendor to provide a new billing system to improve customer service.
  • Hiring approximately 300 DeKalb youths through the DeKalb Works summer employment strategy administered by WorkSource DeKalb. Sixty-two private and public sector employers are providing job sites for mentorship, training and development of work and life skills for the participants.

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