Taxpayers believe DeKalb budget lacks support for public safety - CBS46 News

Taxpayers believe DeKalb budget lacks support for public safety

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(Source: WGCL) (Source: WGCL)
DEKALB COUNTY, GA (CBS46) -

DeKalb County Commissioners voted 5-2 on Tuesday to approve a budget with $25 million in deficit spending according to CEO Michael Thurmond.  The CEO said he anticipates a $60 million surplus at the end of the year.

However, it was the lack of support for public safety which had most people upset during budget proceedings.

“The bottom line is really that the men and women that serve in DeKalb Public Safety don’t see DeKalb County as a long career,” DeKalb Fire Union Representative Tom Burrell said.

Both police and fire officials said they are facing a crisis in terms of retention. Statistics show more people are leaving than they can hire during the past five years.

“We had 208 resignations against 204 people we hired, [and] another 83 people retired. So it’s very simple math,” Burrell said.

“We actually lost four last week and they’re leaving and end up going to other departments still,” DeKalb Fraternal Order of Police Representative Jeff Wiggs said.

Commissioners approved an amendment to the budget that will evaluate pay for public safety mid-year, calling on a 10 percent raise later this year and a 5 percent increase next year and the year after.

“Because it’s a complex issue, we have to take more time but I can promise the men and women in uniform in DeKalb County, Georgia that we will help provide them with salaries that are competitive and salaries that will allow them to support themselves and their families,” Thurmond said.

“It’s a step in the right direction, it’s not sufficient and it’s still not addressing parody issues that we have within the department,” Wiggs said.

In terms of parity issues, public safety officials told CBS46 there are some employees making more than their supervisors and that issue must be addressed. They would also like to see merit increases put in place now and over an extended period of time. 

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