Some DeKalb County seniors say they are victims in the county’s proposed 2012 budget.
“It seems as though you’re trying to budget on the backs of seniors just like Republicans,” said Conneva Hall, who complained that the budget contained cuts for senior centers but had increases for the CEO’s office and the Board of Commissioners. “Would you treat your grandmother like that?”
The 2012 budget by DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis contains an increase of $102,000, or 6.5 percent, for his office and an increase of $165,000, or 5.8 percent, for the Board of Commissioners.
But, at $353,000 the proposed budget for senior citizen centers is just 53 percent of last year’s budget.
“The seniors in DeKalb County have not been treated fairly,” said Hall, a retired teacher who lives in Lithonia. “We have worked our full lives looking for the golden years.
“We need to look at that budget again,” Hall said. “We need to revisit that again.”
Hall’s comments were made at the first of several public hearings sponsored by the Finance, Audit and Budget Committee to discuss Ellis’ proposed $547.3 million budget, which is 1.2 percent higher than the 2011 budget which and contains no tax increase and no county employee furlough days.
The proposal also includes funding for all county holidays, a lower-cost health care option for county employees and implementation of a recently announced home-buying initiative and jobs stimulus program tied to a billion-dollar water-sewer improvement plan.
In his proposed budget, Ellis predicts a 5 percent drop in property tax revenues. Commissioner Lee May, who chairs the board’s FAB committee, says is too optimistic.
“Everything rises and falls on the revenue the administration assumes,” Lee said. “If your revenue assumptions are off everything else is off. If that number is too optimistic that means we’re going to bring in less revenue.”
The effect on the budget of the possible incorporation of Brookhaven was another topic during the public discussion.
“If that happens, that going to pull revenue out of DeKalb County’s cofers,” said May, who has been a proponent of a multi-year budget forecast.
When Dunwoody incorporated in 2008, the county lost approximately $16 million in revenue.
May said that loss could be approximately $25 million if Brookhaven incorporates.
“It likely will happen at some point moving forward,” May said. “We as a county need to plan forward. We’ve been making decisions this year that adversely affect next year because we’re not looking at the budget in a three- to five-year window.”
Joel Alvarado, the legislative liaison for DeKalb County, said all county residents should voice their opinions about future incorporation “when the time is right.”
“This is a DeKalb County issue,” Alvarado said. “I don’t see why all of DeKalb County shouldn’t have a voice in this matter. You’re going to be affected one way or the other. My challenge to the rest of the county is, ‘What are you going to say?’”
The Board of Commissioners has until March 1 to adopt a budget and typically does so during its final meeting in February.