Monday, June 17, 2024
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DeKalb Budget Focusing On Justice Center, Concerns For Teacher Pay

As budget deliberations begin in DeKalb County, the focus center on funding a new justice center and jail as well as increases in teacher pay.

That according to County Executive Matt Adcock. The budget committee had discussed a bond resolution for the justice center during multiple meetings this month, but have failed to pass the resolution.

“We are at the steps of funding at this point,” Adcock said. “I mean, the commission has voted. They want to do a center with a hundred and ninety beds. They, they’ve kind of confirmed a price. So the next step is allocating our funding source.”

Adcock said the Board of Education has also requested some $3.1 million in property tax revenue to increase teachers’ salaries in the county. He said it will be a difficult ask.

“Speaking on the Justice Center that we had just spoke about, that in itself is going to be a hefty property tax increase,” Adcock said. “And it’s looking like the salaries that would go toward the school board, or the schools essentially, for those salaries, would be another hefty tax increase on top of the one we’re already facing. So that’s going to be a, at least a difficult topic to be in discussion for this budget committee.”

The bond resolution on the Justice Center seems to be stuck on whether to move forward with a Justice Center or just build a jail. Adcock said the bond resolution would not determine the specifications of the Justice Center/Jail itself, only the financial side of the project.

“We still haven’t purchased land and a lot of other things that are going to be considered with this, but this kind of sets our limit not to exceed $65 million,” Adcock said. “So this bond resolution would be the first step in the right direction of getting this funded.”

Adcock said the commission had previously been in negotiations with the school board to use sales tax revenue to fund a $46 million school for students from pre-K to second grade, but they never reached an agreement.

“We only needed a $2 million contribution from the school board’s $10 million reserve,” Adcock said. “So we kind of sent that back to them, said, ‘Hey, we can fund this. We just need two million of your ten, and we can build a school without raising property taxes.’ Because we knew that we were going to be facing this justice center, and we knew that we couldn’t use sales tax for it, that it was going to be a property tax increase. But the school board shot that down and said that they didn’t want to offer two of their ten million reserve for the construction of a school. So I know that will be a conversation that might be brought up when they ask for this – I believe it was $3.1 million for salaries.”