There aren't enough words for me to express my disappointment and astonishment at your mid-year budget proposal for DeKalb County. There are many reasons ranging from estimated revenue to expenditures. But what I would specifically like to address in this letter today zeroes in on the most critical role in county government – public safety.
You have utterly failed to abide by legislation adopted by the General Assembly this year to separate out the levy for DeKalb Police Services in a Special Tax District – a fund designated to protect the most vital service this county provides its citizens.
In all its wisdom, the legislature adopted this separate line-item for a police millage so that it would be somewhat insulated from the politics of budgeting when commissioners and the CEO decide how to raise and spend money in DeKalb County.
As CEO, you and your staff did not participate in any discussion about the need for police millage. Nor did you object to this concept. That is why I am now flabbergasted at your underhanded tactics as the CEO to again co-mingle police funds with other departments – departments that the legislature clearly did not believe had as high a priority as public safety.
I want to note that just because police services are earning a dedicated portion of the millage, this carve out does not require a tax increase. The General Assembly also saw that as it adopted this legislative policy. During budget committee meetings, your staff informed me that the new law only impacted the millage rate and that a law is not needed to separate out a budgetary fund of a tax nature. I understand it's difficult to make this bookkeeping change on tax bills, but the law is the law, and the public wants transparency on how tax money is dedicated to public safety.
The public is willing and even encouraged us to to seperate out a police tax, as long as that funding stayed within the police department. With this move, you have destroyed public confidence of county government and especially the confidence of members of the General Assembly who passed this legislation with a single purpose in mind.
I am writing you this letter based on my experience in recent budget committee meetings and handouts received from your office. It's obvious your staff needs more educating on abiding by state law and the protocol of working with another respected body – the board of commissioners.
To disregard the will of the General Assembly, the desire of the elected board of commissioners and the desires of the DeKalb taxpayers shows your office is not only out of touch with its constituencies but does not know the realities of the political environment. This action–or inaction, I should say–creates a serious invitation for the 2012 session of the General Assembly to change the county form of government to one more responsive to the people who elect it.