Furloughs coming to Clayton

Like most local governments, Clayton county may be forced to lay off and/or furlough employees due in part to the economic downturn. As per the AJC, the proposed 2010 budget will be almost $10 million less than last year’s, if approved. Some employees could be furloughed for a few days each month, and others will lose their job entirely. This is not a good sign for residents either, who will undoubtedly lose some vital county services in the process.

Clayton residents currently pay some of the lowest taxes in Georgia. This may be great for individual wallets, but might not be the best solution for the needs of the county as a whole. And while some residents believe the only way to improve this area is to raise taxes, others don’t trust those in charge to do the right thing with any extra revenue received.

Should Clayton county taxes be raised?

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The proposed 2010 budget can be viewed weekdays between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. in the Finance Department (112 Smith Street, Jonesboro), and at these libraries during regular hours: the Headquarters Library, the Lovejoy Library, the Morrow Library, and the Riverdale Library.

In addition, the Clayton County Board of Commissioners will hold a Public Hearing on Tuesday, June 23 at 6 p.m. in the Commissioners’ Boardroom (112 Smith Street) to hear citizen input on the proposed budget. Residents wishing to speak must sign up with the Clerk prior to the meeting, and comments are limited to two minutes per person.

The final budget will be voted on at the June 30 commission meeting. How would you ask your commissioner to vote?

28 comments Add your comment

disgruntled Clayton resident

June 22nd, 2009
10:27 am

I’m sorry but raising taxes ain’t the answer. It’s gonna take at least 15 years for Clayton to start bouncing back from all the bad decisions made in the past 10 years. The locusts have already invaded and taken over and our elected officials don’t have a problem with that because as long as the lunatics run the aslyum they get to keep their cushy political positions of power and keep getting paid to do next to nothing. Until there is a serious challenger for Eldrin Bell who is pulling all the strings round here nothing will change.

Peggy Sue Davis

June 22nd, 2009
11:03 am

Raise taxes, but also raise accountability. We need a forsenic audit! But oh yeah, the BOC fired KPMG. LOL!

Off the table for cuts and furloughs are fire, police, and the sheriff’s office. We cannot afford any more lawsuits if slow response times lead to life or property loss (see Atlanta). There needs to be a millage increase to pay for fire, police and the sheriff. Possibly new millages introduced??? Otherwise, the general fund will just have more money to waste.

And Clayton needs to get rid of MARTA ($8 million/yr drain). Close the Rec centers during the school year – essential services only!!!

Larry OKeeffe

June 22nd, 2009
11:27 am

Many in our community have been hard hit by the economy. Unemployment, Underemployment and the Mortgage/real-estate melt down have hit Clayton County disproportionately hard. The state is not much better off, recently due to a shortfall the state had to use ARRA money to make its monthly QBE payment to the school system. If not for the ARRA money many teachers would not have been paid last month.

I suspect that the tax digest has decreased due to reassessments that reflected the drop in property values. Nobody wants a tax increase. Many are having trouble just making their current mortgage payment. However if we are to maintain an effective level of services I believe that a responsible tax increase, and then only if absolutely necessary, would at the most be revenue neutral, adjusted so as to equalize total property tax revenues at last years level, no greater and no less. Theoretically this would result in little change to the individual tax bill if the property has been reassessed. However we will still face the loss of the HTRG credit on our tax bills.

We must face the fact that the county is tasked with providing services to the community and there is a cost associated with those services. The County must be responsible and make meaningful adjustments to expenditures so as to operate within limits; however the level of basic public safety and community health and welfare must not be compromised. We can not follow the path that the City of Atlanta has taken. We can not permit the use of Hot Button issues such as Public safety to blackmail the community into submissiveness.

After I read the newspaper article last Wednesday, I went to the Morrow library Thursday to look at the proposed budget. This document is not your typical line item budget that most business persons are accustomed to. I spent two hours reading and taking notes, and still I do not have even a partial comprehension of the details presented. I am concerned as to whether or not the commissioners will be able to make an informed decision on the 30th. I wish to support the commissioners in this process as a concerned and involved citizen. I wish to make my concerns known, not to ridicule but as a constructive critique regarding the concerns of a citizen. To have meaningful input we as citizens must have unfettered access to the proposed budget. As I said this document is not easy to follow, access is limited to one copy at each library and the time from release to public input is only 6 calendar days. I was able to down load previous year’s budgets and financial reports from the county web site; however the proposed FY2010 budget is not posted. It would greatly assist the citizens of Clayton County if this Budget proposal was available in PDF format on the web site. I have not been able to contact Ms. Jackson personally but have been told by someone that was able to speak with her that the reason it is not on the web site is because it has never been done before.

I would suggest two procedural Items to the County Commission.

1. Present the budget in a format that lends itself to constructive and detailed analysis. A line Item format with executive summary would I am sure assist the commissioners and the community in understanding the challenges we face.
2. Open the process to allow for input by the public and the commissioners during the formative process. The development of the county budget should be a cooperative process and not limited to the finance department. Presenting the budget only two weeks before the mandatory adoption gives the perception that the county is rushing the process to hide details and avoid criticism.

Pray for our Schools
Larry O’Keeffe

SynamonSays...

June 22nd, 2009
11:47 am

Yes, Raise Taxes, Raise Accountability, Raise Expectations and we will Raise the Quality of Living in Clayton County!

Concerned Citizen

June 22nd, 2009
1:50 pm

I am not in favor of raising taxes untill we as citizens know how our hard earned tax money was spent previously. I too studied the budget at the local library and found it not to be user friendly. It does not spell out HOW money is to be spent. My trust in our current crop of elected officials is at an all time low! I wonder if our commissioners get it? I would suggest they first complete the independent financial audit then make informed decisions based on the findings. It is impossible for te commish to anaylize, study and make efficient decisions that will impact my wallet in a week!

Do the right thing Commissioners!

Yeoman

June 22nd, 2009
6:02 pm

The entire SPLOST should be dismantled. It is nothing but a massive and cumbersome bureaucratic boondoggle devised to consolidate absolute control over the populace. A wise man once wrote “For me, survival is the ability to cope with difficulties, with circumstances, and to overcome them.” (Nelson Mandela) Clayton must hired a “Euclid” to answer publicly the quintessential question “show me the money” from past budgets. There is an air of no-confidence amongst the populace about this bunch of Conspicuous Consumers (BOC).

Huh?

June 22nd, 2009
7:04 pm

Notice that counties with a higher tax base don’t have half the problems Clayton county does. Do you really need to ask this question? Raising Clayton’s taxes should be a no-brainer.

Try a new sandwich Eldrin, this one ain't selling

June 22nd, 2009
8:41 pm

Eldrin been selling the voters a shet sandwich for years, claiming he’s serving the voters, then turning around and doing things like appointing Ericka Davis when she was a central player is both SACS accreditation scandals.

So when you once again try to claim you are doing the politically courageous thing by blasting your fellow commissioners, the public ain’t buying.

They’ve seen this story before. The Clown Who Cried Wolf.

Low paid County employee residing in Clayton county

June 22nd, 2009
9:12 pm

Please consider that many of clayton county employees , directors and supervisors reside in other counties like Dekalb, Fayette & Henry. Their taxes will not be affected even if we raise the millage. Cutting their pay or having them pay Clayton County for special privilege of siphoning money from clayton county while living in their $ 300,000 houses will be fair of giving back to the community that have been paying their big salaries for years.

Therisa

June 23rd, 2009
12:50 pm

Maybe it’s just time to leave this cesspool called Clayton County?

Huh?

June 23rd, 2009
11:24 pm

I was at tonight’s meeting and would ask my commissioner to vote yes on tax increases. It’s time.

Oh please

June 24th, 2009
9:33 am

Well, my family will be directly affected by layoffs and furloughs in county government and we ARE residents. It won’t be the ones that make the most money that feel the heat. I’m not against an audit, however, the audit has to be paid for. Raise taxes while initiating an audit simultaneously. That way the flaws in current budgeting practices can be discovered without punishing the employees. They aren’t responsible for the board’s mismanagement of county revenue.

Larry OKeeffe

June 24th, 2009
11:25 am

Open e-mail to the Clayton County Commissioners and Chairman Bell.

Last night I made the following statement.

The County must be responsible and make meaningful adjustments to expenditures so as to operate within limits of our anticipated revenue; however the level of basic public safety and community health and welfare must not be compromised. We cannot permit the use of Hot Button issues such as Public safety to blackmail the community into submissiveness. We can not follow the path that the City of Atlanta has taken. Public safety cannot be sacrificed to pay for fiscal irresponsibility.

While watching the News I heard Chairman Bell not only confirm the use of Hot Button Issues as a tool the get the community to submit to a tax increase but he bragged about it. This disturbed me greatly.

http://www.myfoxatlanta.com/dpp/news/Clayton_County_Proposes_Furloughs_062309

In light of this interview and the information and opinions presented last night I would like to amend and expand the statements and recommendations I submitted last night.

The tax digest has decreased due to reassessments that reflected the drop in property values. Nobody wants a tax increase. Many are having trouble just making their current mortgage payment. However if we are to maintain an effective level of services I believe that a responsible tax increase, of 2-3 mil is warranted. Remember we will still face the loss of the HTRG credit on our tax bills this fall.

Note: the proposed tax increase along with the loss of the HTRG may result in a $200-$300 increase in the average homeowner’s tax bill.

Additionally I would humbly recommend that to insure a return on our investment and to hold those responsible for spending our tax dollars accountable. The commissioners pass a resolution at the same time as the budget resolution that will require the county to prepare a monthly Comparative Operating Statement to be presented to the commission at their monthly business meeting, and be posted on the county web site, starting no later than September 2009 and to continue every month thereafter. This will serve to reassure the community that the proposed tax increase is being spent to support public safety and not deverted into other areas.

The format of this COS should conform to general business practices, and be complied starting at the department level. The department reports would then be integrated into a divisional report. The divisional reports would then be combined into an executive summary report for presentation to the commissioners, with a copy posted on the county website for public inspection. This report should at the least contain information on; REVENUE collections and fund balances, PAYROLL broken down into salary, benefits and tax; CONTROLLABLES, Broken down into appropriate categories such as fuel, office supplies, construction materials, food and other controllable operating supplies; MAINTENANCE and REPAIR, broken down into, vehicle, building and equipment categories; CAPITAL EXPENDITURES including such items a vehicle purchases amortized over a period of years, Facility and land acquisitions and disposals; COMMUNITY ENTITLEMENT DISBURSMENTS covering payments and in kind distributions to organizations or individuals under grant programs such as HUD.

I also reiterate my concerns regarding the format, process and access concerning the annual budget.

This document is not your typical line item budget I spent two hours reading and taking notes, and still I do not have even a partial comprehension of the details presented. I am concerned as to whether or not the commissioners will be able to make an informed decision on the 30th.

Please consider presenting the budget in a format that lends itself to constructive and detailed analysis. A line Item format with executive summary would, I am sure assist the commissioners and the community in understanding the challenges we face. As it is currently presented the community can not help but perceive that an attempt is being made to hide information and confuse. Also the short time and limited access further supports this perception, consider posting the proposed budget on the county website in PDF format as is done with the previous years budgets and financial reports. Open the budget process to allow for input by the public and the commissioners during the formative process. The development of the county budget should be a cooperative process, done over time, not a take it or leave it last minute proposal.

Pray for our Schools
Larry O’Keeffe

JMHO but ...

June 24th, 2009
12:47 pm

I think Eldrin Bell is just talking. He probably didn’t expect the citizens to actually come out and SUPPORT a tax increase like they did last night. Now he’s backtacking (he said in an AJC article that it would take “guts” to do what he suggested, which is furlough county employees) because he sees he is outnumbered so he’s hopping on the bandwagon pretending that this was his plan all along. Eldrin Bell literally makes me sick.

Milquetoast

June 24th, 2009
5:35 pm

CCBOC has squandered the last two fiscal budgets on plenty items not in the best interest of citizens! There has been “No Transparency”. Vote “NO” to any tax augmentation. As “power” concedes nothing without demand. This bunch should be “Recalled” for letting time elapsed before informing the public of this financial crisis. Now they’re using “TIME” to “Dictate the Agenda”.

Jborodawg

June 24th, 2009
5:47 pm

Mr Okeefe, you make a very reasoned argument for increasing taxes. I would agree if it were any other county and your proposals for accountability could be implemented. Do you think this chairman and this BOC will actually do that? I think a very large percentage of taxpayers would favor a tax increase IF there were accountability. But, until that is done, I have to say “no”. Plain and simple, I don’t trust our elected officials. Example: your link to and the way Mr Bell was seemingly being deceptive in proposing the furloughs.

I’ve always wondered where the money goes that comes to Clayco from the airport. We get millions a year from Hartsfield without lifting a finger. Where does that revenue go?

Ya ever watch a road repair crew around here? Five men standing around while one operates a shovel. Or five standing around watching a backhoe. Makes me wonder if the same thing is happening in county back offices.

Larry OKeeffe

June 24th, 2009
6:58 pm

The impetus for my commentary today was the actions and comments of Chairman Bell. As an elected official it is incumbent upon him to be open and transparent in his actions and dealings with the community. As Chairman he is the person primarily responsible for the day to day operation of the county and the preparation of the budget projection. Currently the process appears to be, the Chairman submits this budget projection prepared under his direction by the director of finance, to the Board of Commissioners for their approval. I included the District Commissioners in my e-mail as they are the check and balance to the Chairman and as a Board approve and enact the resolutions governing the counties expenditures and collection of revenues. I do not consider the District Commissioners as complaisant in this apparent manipulation of the community.

Jborodawg

June 25th, 2009
9:19 am

Mr Okeeffe; again you make a compelling and cogent points of how things **should** be. We should have a chairman and commissioners who will implement what you suggest. We **should** still have Bob Keller as DA too. Hopefully enough people (taxpayers) will follow your example and our elected officials will here us out. Thanks for being a voice of reason on this blog!

Larry OKeeffe

June 25th, 2009
11:13 am

The Chairman’s statement on TV Tuesday Night upset me greatly, now that my emotions have subsided I do not believe it was as Machiavellian as I first perceived it to be. I am still upset at his comments but I do not believe there was an intentional attempt to manipulate the community. I now believe the commentary and actions presented were serendipitous and subsequent to events as they unfolded, not preplanned and intentional.

I and others are willing to support a reasonable tax increase but we want visible accountability. The community must be assured that any tax increase is reasonable and necessary. The supporting evidence must be presented in a format that the community can understand and believe. There must be controls in place that insure the money is spent as was advertised. Creditability is the key, right now all forms of government are suffering from a lack of it. Government must earn creditability by being open and transparent.

We have many challenges to face and overcome. I still believe that Clayton County is a great place to live and has magnificent potential. It will take all of us working together to manifest that potential. We must consistently seek and embrace opportunities for positive change and advancement of this community.

Pray for our Schools
Larry O’Keeffe

Endemic

June 25th, 2009
8:22 pm

Clayton’s entire SPLOST and TAXATION should be dismantled. It is nothing but a massive and cumbersome bureaucratic boondoggle devised to consolidate absolute control over the populace. For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being very grateful to be provided better information and fuller understaning andconsideration, to change opinions, even on important subjects, which I once thought right but found to be otherwise and just straight wrong. Things such as why accreditation loss and/or why all this political upheaval in this county! Kids with a poverty mindset have a hard buying the “promise” of education, because those they have seen with power (while young) have rarely benefited from education such as the BOE & BOC. Poverty mindsets live in survival mode, so they usually see relationships and entertainment as far more important than planning (after all, when you live from paycheck to paycheck, it is difficult to plan). It is little wonder the poverty mindset struggles in school. With this BOE & BOC there is an ire of no-confidence amongst the populace with this county’s “Conspicuous Consumption.”

RIP Michael Jackson

June 25th, 2009
10:15 pm

Enter your comments here

Me

June 25th, 2009
11:01 pm

The Cap And Trade ” bill being voted on tomorrow by the US congress will make Clayton County taxes look like chicken feed! The average citizen does not even know what the Cap And Trade bill is, but they will soon! It will hit them in the wallet very hard.

“Experience”

June 26th, 2009
7:20 pm

“Experience” is that marvelous thing that enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again. You can turn painful situations around through laughter. If you can find humor in anything, even poverty, you can survive it. (Bill Cosby). This SPLOST and Tax augmentation is laughable! “Experience #1 “Where’s all the SPLOST money. “We” paid for the other two (2) Recreation Centers that “Haven’t” been built?” “Experience Accreditation Meltdown.” “Where there is fear, you will get wrong figures. You will get cheating and faking, and where does fear come from?” Top Management, (BOC). W. Edwards Deming. The Cantankerous attitude displayed by this chairman is Impudence.

Magnetic Appeal

June 26th, 2009
7:51 pm

Clayton County Magnetic Appeal! No, I didn’t say that. And I didn’t mean that either. However, since you asked the question, I think it’s only fair to acknowledge that it would be difficult to have an honest discussion about school choice without addressing the issue of race and economic demographics. I think we can agree that there will probably be few white, affluent, suburban parents scrambling to transfer their children to black, poor, urban schools. It’s also very likely that those same white, affluent parents fear the reverse. The Catastrophic Errors started with the pale power hungry!

Concerned Clayton Citizen

June 27th, 2009
11:45 am

I am concerned about our Chairman who says he was misleading in his plan to furlough police officer, and then jumps on the band wagon for tax increases. Now I’m sure he has no idea what he is doing and is looking for someone to lead the way for him.

Please, please provide the commissioners with a monthly report on the state of the budget. This should be done on a monthly basis so the Commissioners and the tax payers know what is happening on a monthly basis. NO ONE can digest the scrambled budget that is given in a week. It is without doubt the bigges mish mash I have ever seen.

Don’t forget to get the C-Tran problem on the ballot for citizens to vote on. We must deal with this disastor also.

Nanci Olds

July 16th, 2009
10:37 pm

Lord please help us. First it was the school system. Now the home owners are being asked to shoulder the financial responsibility for the entire county? Why is this? Why can there not be a more equitable way of sharing the responsibility? Why can not the ENTIRE county have a raise in sales tax to 7.5%? I have just bought a home in Clayton County. One of the main reasons I bought here is because of the tax rate. I have not even paid the first payment for property taxes. Raise the sales tax as opposed to property tax making it a fairer expense. Furthermore, I for one think it might not be a bad idea to replace the present commissioner Mr Bell just as we did with the school board. We deinetly need change regarding the spending and accountability of how tax dollars are being spent. Thank you.

Edison Browen

July 25th, 2010
6:49 am

@Jim I completely agree with you

Gino Inbody

July 29th, 2010
9:53 am

I was thinking the same thing