DeKalb County Commissioner Nancy Jester writes about why she voted against the 2015 mid-year DeKalb County budget on her website,
I voted against the 2015 Mid-Year DeKalb County Budget.
It is evident that some of the elected leaders and bureaucrats in DeKalb government have little recognition for what constitutes competent service delivery and prudent financial management. The mid-year budget continues bloating government, does nothing to reduce to size of the bureaucracy, and raises the millage rate for the General Fund even though property assessments have greatly increased. Clearly, DeKalb …is going in the wrong direction.
In addition to the already bloated proposal, the administration sent the Board of Commissioners a budget with even higher levels of spending, less than 24 hours before our vote.
I cannot support a bloated budget, poor basic service delivery, increased millage rates, and last minute un-vetted budget additions. All of these factors have led DeKalb to the poor status it holds today. I will continue to speak out and vote against these practices and habits. I hope that you will join me and let your voice be heard.
Commissioner Jester also addressed recent stories about ethical questions raised about DeKalb County’s procurement system saying,
It is time to shine the light of transparency on the procurement irregularities that were highlighted in the AJC story and disclose any other contracts or agreements that DeKalb has with APD solutions or Mr. Irons.I am requesting that the CEO and his administration, review their files and make public any and all documentation regarding bids, contracts, meetings, and communications with APD Solutions and Mr. Irons.
I want to be clear – the money involved in this growing scandal belongs to the taxpayers of DeKalb County. Your tax dollars must not be used as a slush fund that doles out contracts to well connected friends and their companies. Bidding, contracts, and oversight deserve professional and diligent scrutiny so that your tax dollars yield the most return for their investment.
It is unconscionable that a taxpayer-funded employee would allow your money to be spent so carelessly and with so little to show for the expense.
Sadly, in addition to taxpayers, those vulnerable communities that this grant money was meant to help, are victims. They were cheated out of investments that should have been made to their community instead of lining the pockets of the powerful and politically connected.
The budget proposal Jester opposed also removed $500,000 to pay for a probe of public corruption.
The commission voted 4-3 Tuesday on a budget that removes $500,000 sought by Interim CEO Lee May to help pay for an independent inquiry led by former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers, along with $208,000 requested by DeKalb District Attorney Robert James to hire four employees in his Public Integrity Unit in the last four months of the year.
Their investigations will continue despite the lack of funding, and commissioners said they will consider appropriating money in the future if those expenses can be justified.
Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson, who took office Monday, has said the “cloud of investigations” by several agencies – the FBI, the Board of Ethics, the District Attorney’s Office and Bowers – should be brought to a close.
“I feel it’s a little overkill. You can only investigate so much,” Johnson said last week after winning a runoff election. “It’s been over three years now, and so for us to move forward, these investigations must come to a conclusion.”
The denial of funding for investigations raises suspicions about the commission’s priorities, said Dan DeWoskin, the president of the DeKalb Bar Association.
“This is a house on fire. DeKalb County is plagued with the mistrust of its constituents,” DeWoskin said. “There’s got to be accountability.”
Commissioners Larry Johnson, Mereda Davis Johnson, Sharon Barnes Sutton and Stan Watson voted for the county’s $1.33 billion mid-year budget. Commissioners Gannon, Nancy Jester and Jeff Rader voted against it.