Proposed 2011 budget a bust for county employees

Chairman Eldrin Bell says he wants to hear from Clayton county residents on the proposed 2011 budget. If adopted as is, employee salaries will be lowered by 4 percent, among other departmental cuts systemwide. So if you’ve got an opinion on this subject, now is the time to share it with your elected officials.

The majority of Clayton county employees have not received a pay increase since 2006, and even that raise wasn’t what it appeared to be since it was offset by an increase in employee benefit contributions. So it is understandable why most have stated that they would prefer furlough days in lieu of a pay cut this go-round.

In addition, it is inevitable that some valuable workers will seek employment elsewhere if a salary decrease occurs. Will doing so be harder to accomplish in this economy? Absolutely – but it’s not impossible. And with no disrespect to those working in other capacities, as a resident, the potential loss of manpower in the public safety realm (on and off the streets) concerns me the most.

Clayton residents: would you be willing to pay a tax increase to avoid a salary reduction for employees? Why or why not? In what other department(s) should budget cuts NOT be so extensive?

What other recommendations would you give in order to balance the county’s $9 million budget deficit?

Would you pay a tax increase to avoid a salary reduction for county employees?

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Call and/or email your county commissioner to voice your opinion, but do it quick because the BOC votes next Tuesday, June 29 and this budget could go into effect on July 1.

You can view the proposed budget at any of these local libraries: Headquarters branch, Jonesboro, Lovejoy or Morrow.

83 comments Add your comment

Interesting

June 24th, 2010
10:44 am

Doesn’t this blog almost always do only one topic a week? Isn’t it interesting then, when spotlight started to shine away from Goree’s actions, and started to shine on the whether or not there is any credibility to the allegations that the board chair engaged in illegal activity, suddenly we have a new blog topic.

Coincidence?

What Now?

June 24th, 2010
10:48 am

Another tax increase? Our taxes were raised 3 mils last year. That cost me a lot of money I had to pay out of pocket. Why do these people think they deserve more of my hard earned money. Are we to see tax increases every year. What happened to the $8 million from ending the buses?

whatever

June 24th, 2010
11:00 am

Are they starting from the Top down? Maybe getting rid of their”Chief of Staff? I didn’t think so. So until ALL County employees starting at the top, Feel the bite, don’t go raising my taxes

kallen

June 24th, 2010
11:01 am

Interesting: Not a coincidence at all. We decided to post next week’s article a bit earlier to ask residents to let their elected officials know their thoughts about the 2011 budget before they vote next Tuesday, and hopefully discuss the budget here as well. Posting this article on Monday would have only given residents who were unaware one day to contact their elected officials on the budget’s contents.

Monday’s article (CCPS policing itself a good thing!) and thoughts on that is still available for comments and/or viewing for anyone who wishes to do so, and incoming comments are still being posted as they come in.

Yeah, okay

June 24th, 2010
12:24 pm

Employes all over are losing there jobs or money. County employees should be thankful they still have a job even if pay is lost because we arent’ all that lucky, all you gotta do is go back a few weeks and read about about all the unemployed who aren’t even getting an unemployment check dag Ray Charles can see this and so many county employees don’t even live here anymore, maybe this is a way to get them off the county dime

Happy St. Pat's

June 24th, 2010
12:47 pm

Some of our county employees do a great job, but many don’t know what they’re doing, don’t care, and act like it is a burden to actually do their job. There are some great people who don’t deserve a pay cut, but a lot of others who don’t have standing to complain, because they won’t earn their paycheck either way.

NO NEW TAXES

June 24th, 2010
12:54 pm

Until more transparency from the county government occurs, I say no more taxes. What happened to all of the money they got last time?

Just say NO to any more taxes. Be better managers is what is needed.

The Big Dog

June 24th, 2010
2:13 pm

I vote for the tax increase because me paying $100 extra for a year is better than someone else losing their job.
@What Now? – did you forget that the majority of the taxes paid last year was due to the Republican governor disallowing the homestead exemption – duh.

kjk

June 24th, 2010
3:20 pm

I am an employee of Clayton County government and have worked hard for them for 21 years. I do not want my pay cut. The employees are not the ones that got this county in financial trouble. The commissioners should do to themselves whatever they intend to do to us. If they cut our pay, then they should volunteeringly cut theirs the same percentage – afterall, they are the ones setting the examples. A lot of suggestions have been given to them, but they seem to not want to hear them. The employees in my office know they are going to do what they want to do regardless of who it hurts. When election times rolls around, they all may get a big surprise.

Those of us who are nearing retirement definitely don’t want our pay cut – we would take furlough days. If they cut our pay, we will probably never see that amount they cut on our paycheck again. This will affect our retirement pay and, I, for one, have worked hard all these years and don’t deserve a pay cut. I am praying that the right thing will be done.

What Now?

June 24th, 2010
3:24 pm

I agree with poster who said most county employees don’t live here anymore. They could read the writing on the wall and left before the market tanked.

19&41

June 24th, 2010
4:23 pm

Enter your comments here

personal responsiblity

June 24th, 2010
4:24 pm

When you look at cutting a budget, you look at the largest expenditures first. Employee salaries, pensions and benefits are always at the top of the list for any organizaton. To come up with an $8M shortfall (after the CTRan reduction), would it be better to cut salaries by 4%, or lay off HUNDREDS of people? I know people in the private sector who had theirs salary cut by 30%, and were thankful they still had a job because others in their company were not so lucky. Stop whining. In today’s unemployment rate of 10+%, anyone with a job is should be grateful.

Vote Early

June 24th, 2010
5:30 pm

Let this be a lesson to all county residents about how poorly we are being governed. We are AGAIN being asked to cover their mistakes. Think about it then get out and vote!

answers

June 24th, 2010
6:14 pm

Seriously…How much money is a 4% decrease ? a couple of dollars? Of course u should cut the salaries 4% as oppsed to laying people of..and the BIG salaries should be cut 10%…..75k or more is a big salary

toady

June 24th, 2010
6:44 pm

In favor of cutting every county employee’s pay by 4 percent to help fix a $9 million budget shortfall. Clayton’s income decreased during the recession, with property tax revenue declining $10 million. Residential values dropped 22 percent because of the real estate collapse. Rental car companies near the airport moved to Fulton County, contributing to a 50-percent drop in motor vehicle sales taxes. The commission might lack the legal authority to cut pay for employees of constitutional officers, such as the lily white employees. The commission may very well make pay cuts and increase taxes. Greed breeds Greed

say what?

June 24th, 2010
8:11 pm

@kjk- you can call it a 4%reduction in pay or furlough days, it is STILL A PAYCUT. For example my pay cut is 6.25% and my employer has decided that this will be done with 17 furlough days (no work no pay days). They are not cutting my pay AND furloughing me, they are cutting pay BY furloughing. Do we have employees in Clayton county that read and understand the process, or does the media find comments that are meant to show the uneducated/miseducated employees that Clayton has. There was a lady, Ms.Jones in the Tax assessors office who was quoted in another newspaper stating that it is only fair that Clayton employees keep their salary because working taxpayers have been getting their salaries and getting raises when Clayton employees have not in the last 9 years. Say what? I did not know that she knew every taxpayers salary and raise information. Clayton county has an unemployment rate over the state average so she has been misled, too many taxpayers received pink slips rather than pay increases. The entitlement mentality is bothersome, and for an employee to be so vocal and wrong, questions if my tax dollars could be put to better use.

I went to the local library today and read the budget (less than 200 pages). Most of it is a history of CLayton County, and all the good things that have been done in Clayton County since its inception. For the county to have over 200k citizens, having 2k fulltime employees is not bad. I read each departments job titles, pay grades, and FY ‘09,FY’10, and projected budget. No one is losing a job. The police department is exempt from the pay cut. I do have comments on 4 items in the budget- pages 112, 162,167,and 170.

If emergency calls have consistently increased each year since 2009 why were 2dispatcher positions abolished? This seems like an area of public safety that should not be abolishing positions when the distress calls are on the rise.

Parks/Recreation- 3 levels of mgt- one level needs to go, and there should be corresponding personnel cuts to budget/program cuts.

Professional services is a $4.5M fund to pay for contracted work- I see a big red “?” on this one. Though it is going down by $11K, do we really need to contract work out that we have 2200 fulltime employees to do, and if they cannot do it, why are they employees?

Increasing program fees, document copy fees, and requiring the grant managers in various departments to go after and get “x amount of grants with $$$ value annually to retain their jobs” should be a requirement to bring in other revenue funds.

Resolute

June 24th, 2010
10:44 pm

First, I would ask that the person making posts with the supposed cutesy name – whose last name translates to a troublesome “goes in you”, could please change their moniker. It ain’t cute as you think. Rather nasty instead. Kimberly – if this person cannot bring themselves to change, can these posts otherwise be excluded from our discussions on the Clayton blog. Grow up dick!!

Tired Taxpayer Who Remained

June 24th, 2010
10:55 pm

Kimberly, thank you for the opportunity to post comments on the proposed budget and salary reductions. I am a private sector employee whose pay has been cut 5 percent. I have not had a raise in four years; and there is no hope of me getting one next year. Despite the cut, I send my child to a private school and manage to pay my bills on time. How do I do it? I live below my means; drive a 10-year-old car; and rather than purchasing a house my lender said I could afford, I bought one that was half of the amount for which I qualified. I live modestly, recognizing clearly that at any moment I could be without a job. I accepted my cut in pay, thankful every day that I have a job. When I read the comments that county employees are requesting an increase in taxes to help offset an $8 million shortfall, I was outraged. How dare these people, almost of all of whom don’t even live and pay taxes in this county, make such an unrealistic demand! If I and my neighbors can sacrifice, so can you! These are tough, and perhaps even unprecedented economic times, that will require the sacrifice of all of us. Take your lumps or move on!! Again, thank you Kimberly for offering this opportunity to blog BEFORE the Commissioners’ vote. I know I will be watching.

R. Davis

June 24th, 2010
11:22 pm

So all of a sudden Edmondson and his cronies are afraid to raise taxes ?! but that’a what they’ve been doing for the past 6 years. Now they get rid of the transportation system and expect people to return to the county with no transport? Can we say out with the old and in with the new. Thank God it’s election year!

Jodi

June 25th, 2010
1:03 am

Wait!! We have NO MONEY? Are you sure? If so, why did commissioner singleton vote to lease the new clayton county police precinct? Now, they want the employees to take a pay cut? Are you kidding me! Didn’t they raise the taxes last year (47 million)? C-Tran (10 million)? WOW! if you ask me this is a lot of money that the county saved and received. WHERE DID THE MONEY GO?

Pittbull

June 25th, 2010
7:17 am

The kind of people who would return with the transit system we do not need Lee Scott, errr, R Davis!

waterboy

June 25th, 2010
7:45 am

@ R. Davis…. I believe that the transportation system you are referring to caused alot of the deficit.

I did live in Clayton until I figured out that most registered voters just voted for someone based on their skin color, so I got out.

Focus Group

June 25th, 2010
7:51 am

To “say what?” Great research! Not just opinions. That is a blog worth reading. Thanks.

Another focus group

June 25th, 2010
9:04 am

The police dept. may be exempt from pay cuts, but some behind the scenes public safety departments are not. If the excempt cops catch criminals and the rest of the system can’t finish off the process of making them pay for their crimes then we’ve still got a problem.

Yeah, okay

June 25th, 2010
9:30 am

Some employees may leave the system but the majority will stay. Why you ask? Because most of them couldn’t get a job on their own anyway. Clayton is corrupt from the inside out. Most county employees are working here because their mother/father/sister/brother/cousin/babby daddy or mamma/good friend/political payoff hooked them up. They don’t have the skill set to leave unless they have friends or family in another county with connections.

Happy St. Pat's

June 25th, 2010
10:00 am

You find shining jewels in particular departments who know what they are doing and who readily go the extra mile. Elsewhere you find people who haven’t earned their paycheck in a long time. A tight budget can be an opportunity to keep the former and weed out the latter, unless you don’t really care about the citizens or the future of the county.

say what?

June 25th, 2010
10:36 am

@Jodi, please take the time to READ the budget. Taxes were raised 3 mill last year to cover last years deficits, and to keep employees employed and without a pay cut. This years budget you cannot do the same trick. Remember that we have decided to take on Southern Regionals $40M bonds if they fail to keep up payments, which at this point looks likely because they are bleeding money more than the patients bleeding blood. When the commissioners wanted to let Southern Regional fight its own battle, poor citizens advocates demanded that the hospital be saved at all costs ($40million) because its the only hopsital in the county and the only place poor people can go for medical help.
So money has to be collected for RESERVES. that is what most families recognize as a savings account, to which most families no longer have.

Also the police precint in Ellenwood will use funds created from the TAD district in which it will be located. Though the rest of the county is losing money, TAD districts are paying for themselves, and making money.
Please stop the incumbent bashing without knowing the facts. And to that end, how does 1 person on a 5 person board actually vote and get a majority vote (alone) for what you are acusing Singleton of doing? Go read on your own,please.

say what?

June 25th, 2010
10:57 am

also JODI, the taxpayers of Northeast Clayton deserve police protection in that region. If there is an emergency in that part of clayton, the police come from Riverdale, if NE Clayton citizens want to speak to the commander,they have to go to Riverdale. why should this basic service be so difficult to receive? If I were a commissioner I would more than likely vote to approve a police precint in my district- the one I represent and where I live.

SynamonSays!...What do you say?

June 25th, 2010
12:24 pm

The previous administration’s vision was trailer parks and cheap housing. How do you think we got to where we are? We now have a team of visionaries on the BOC and they deserve our support. We may not agree with all of their positions, but they are moving forward in economic development and fiscal responsibility.

As for this budget let’s provide some clarity. People keep using the word, “they” when speaking of the proposed budget. The chairman sets the budget (not they) then gives it to the four commissioners. The commissioners received the budget on this past Tuesday for the first time. They only have one week to review the budget submitted by the chairman before voting.

Don’t vote in the dark on July 20, 2010. Join me for my ongoing series, “Voting Matters- Let’s Not Pretend in 2010″ this Sunday @ Six. Sign on to http://www.synamonsays.com. We are live and interactive! Our guests this week are Dr. Deborah Honeycutt for Congress 13th District and Dabouze Antione for Commission District 4.

Vote Early

June 25th, 2010
1:12 pm

Well, the current board has been in power for 1 1/2 years. Ask yourself: are you and/or the county better off today than 2 yeras ago? Has things changed for better or worse? Do you agree with decisions made this year?

Think about it then go and vote.

Need2Know

June 25th, 2010
2:14 pm

There needs to be an entire house cleaning, complete with disinfectant applied to Clayton County politics. Open some windows and doors and let the sunshine in. Time to clean up all of the dirty ‘things’ that hide in the dark and behind the scenes here.

BnB

June 25th, 2010
5:22 pm

I know people who worked for a major airline during and after 9-11. Within the next 2 years – they took a 5% paycut, a 10% paycut and a 15% paycut. The airline did this and were able to do few layoffs at the time. It bothers me to hear these county employees crying about a 5% paycut. At least they have a job. If they do not like it, go somewhere else. Oh yeah – I forgot – we are talking about govt. workers. The kind that – when a ditch is being dug – one guy digs and 4 guys supervise. Sweet deal -when you can get it- at least for the 4 guys.

Dezunka

June 25th, 2010
8:04 pm

I think that most county employees have a grasp on a “pay cut” versus a “furlough”. A pay cut is permanent. A 4% decrease in pay this year is still a 4% decrease next year. 10 furlough days on the other hand represent a 4% pay cut this year, however, if there are no furlough days next year than the employees would return to their normal salary. I can’t favor a tax increase because quite frankly, the property taxes in Clayton County are RIDICULOUS!

I think the county needs to stop funding past pork projects like Atlanta Beach… sell that place!! Tara Field? Sell it!! Those two properties alone would save the county millions in the long run!

Wilson

June 25th, 2010
8:53 pm

I don’t see Clayton County getting any more desirable any time soon. The elected officials are inept (half of them graduated from Leadership Clayton)and solid citizens don’t wont the hassle of public service. I have owned my home in Morrow for over forty years and I have seen it all! my neighbors can’t sell so they rent and move on. I’m not ready to gamble on tenants who may or may not have my property in their best interest. I see politicians come and go every election season. They come in and promise the world, promise solutions, promise transperancy then get elected then become worhtless. Am i asking too much for my elcted servants to protect my property values? To advocate for business and investments? Why in the world does Clayton County NOT allow the budget to be seen by the public? IT’S OUR MONEY!!!

subterfuge

June 25th, 2010
11:53 pm

Oh, Republicans? The same people who talk up the free market but can’t run a business without tax breaks/loopholes?

Judy

June 26th, 2010
1:34 am

@ Say what? Yes, District 1 deserves better. CLAYTON COUNTY DESERVES BETTER!!
Please take the time to understand how the Clayton County Police Department works.
First of all, the police don’t come from riverdale (when there is an emergency). The CCPD have different beats. If there is an emergency in this part (NE) the police is already on this side of town. So, know the FACTS before you blog something you know NOTHING about.

One more thing before I leave. YOU ARE SO IN DENIAL… and to keep the peace, I won’t say who is in CONTROL of the majority of the votes (Board Members).

say what?

June 26th, 2010
11:03 am

JUDY why am I in denial because I read and do not have an allegiance to any of the power hungry groups in clayton county? One group wants to destroy a public official when things do not go their way, one group wants to push an arrogant, disconnected candidate because they may promise to bring MARTA to the county. Glad I go to meetings and do not agree to meet with a group of friends so that we can go and report back to the rest of the group our interpretation of the meetings. glad I go to a meeting to hear the process not to see what “so and so” looked like when it was time to vote,so that I can gossip with people with less education than I. I cannot fathom the idea of these “black leaders” who really think when a county becomes majority black, that subsidized underfunded public transportation is the answer. The black’s who were here before the majority/minority shift came out here with their own transportation- called self reliance without government dependence for our basics.

Clayton may deserve better however I would take the incumbent over this group of candidates. One who runs for any political position, one who does what neighbors should do for neighbots, but helping folk does not equate to understanding bonds-

there we go again with the group think inuendo answer about who is in control.blah blah blah. There are several OUTSIDE influences on the board, but because your group cannot get a seat at the negotiating table (great books on the subject=google it)does not mean much to me.
Simply put I disagree with you and Synamon, but does that mean you should scream at me in a post :) Have a great weekend.

Jodi

June 26th, 2010
12:47 pm

Thank you. Judy.

Ole Timer

June 26th, 2010
11:34 pm

THIS IS NOT A POLITICAL STATEMENT
Reading the posts is most interesting. Most everyone is concerned about this years budget deficit but are you really understanding the deficit. Before you get angry, allow me to explain. The proposed budget is short about 9 million dollars (deficit). This means for the government of Clayton County to operate for the next year, it will require 9 million dollars of which the government does not have. According to the proposal available at last tuesday’s meeting, the cause of the deficit is the lower Tax Assessed Value of all properties in Clayton County. Further, the Rent a Car companies at the airport are now in Fulton County because of the airport expansion. Further, less sales tax revuene is coming in because of the hard economic times. So, if less money is available to collect then less is available to spend. However, the county must operate. According to information publicly available, all departments have cut their budgets to the basics and still there is a deficit. To keep Clayton County Government operating, money will be needed from the reserve account and to cut the payroll (employees pay). This will balance the budget.
Here is the part I would like to point out, Next Years Budget. The Tax Assessed value of property in the county cannot be increased for three years based on a State Law Passed. Therefore, the amount of taxes collected from property assessments will not increase. Money from the Rent A Car Companies is permanently gone. The projection for Sales Tax Increase is doubtfull. SO, if the county has a deficit this year, then the county will have a DEFICIT NEXT YEAR. Cutting payroll will handle 4.5 million, so there will still be about 4.5 million dollars short. Where will this money come from next year. I know, cut the employees salaries again by 4.5 million. Now that should balance the budget for next year or will it?
Next Fiscal Budget Year, the county will open two new recreation centers along with several other projects, I believe Libraries (Not Sure). The construction of these projects are in the SPLOST Fund but NOT the operational cost. Therefore, there will be an increase in the budget next year. Where will the money come from?
Remember, if you always spend more money than the money you collect there will always be a deficit. In the business world this is called bankrupcy.

Ole Timer

June 27th, 2010
12:04 am

Cutting Employee Salaries -
Some have stated they realize some county employees will leave the employment of Clayton County if salaries are cut and that everything will be OK. It suggests those leaving will not effect the operations of the county and that someone else will be hired to fill the vacancy.
IF county employees leave the county to go work elsewhere, it will interupt the services of the county. The new person hired will need to be trained. If the vacancy is in police or fire, the training takes 6 to 8 month for basic training and several years for experience.
So, lets take the police department. I believe they currently have 30 vacancies, which by the way, is about the normal vacancy rate for the last 6 years. So, if the county can not hire 30 people right now to be police officers how will the county be able to hire more to fill the vacancies of those officers leaving? If one police officer leaves, it will be 6 to 8 months before the replacements begins answering calls. The more that leaves, the less officers responding to calls for 6 to 8 months.
Just throwing it out there for everyone.

Taxpayer

June 27th, 2010
8:32 am

@Oldtimer. Public safety employees (police) would be exempt from the pay cut. And by the way, we could stand to lose a few folks working for the county so that we can hire and retain employees who really want to work. But who would leave a job that comes with no accountability?

Judi

June 27th, 2010
3:51 pm

@ Ole Timer. I agree. But! I can see from the budget that the County (Commissioners) over spent on some things. If they (Commissioners) set a budget… They should stick to the budget. I don’t want to hear excuses.. They knew about the hard economic times. They (Commissioners) didn’t listen. So, here we are again!! Nothing is going to change if we continue to have elected officials who are GREEDY!!

Tammy

June 27th, 2010
6:08 pm

NO NEW TAXES!!!!!! PERIOD!!! THE TAXES that WE PAY AREN’T BEING USED PROPERLY and WHAT ARE WE GETTING??? POOR SCHOOLS, AND TERRIBLE SERVICE!!! USE THE MONEY THAT WE PAY NOW! ENOUGH ALREADY!!!!!!!

say what?

June 28th, 2010
12:47 am

@Old Timer. Just imagine if we get more do gooders in the 2 seats up for election who are running on the platform of bringing C-Tran and/or MARTA to Clayton County. The county is BROKE and can no longer use its reserves to fund/subsidize public transportation. All it takes is 1 or 2 lawsuits and we will officially be Bankrupt with no way to return.

@Judi- I concur that the commissioners should be presented a budget by the Chairman, vote on said budget and live with that budget. Too many meetings I have seen the commission vote to amend this or that because a department comes begging for something that citizens WANT. That $4.5Million set aside for “professional services” seems like a free for all expense account, and it should be done away with.

Brick House in FP

June 28th, 2010
2:23 am

I work around this county as a private contractor and what I have seen out of the elected officials and county employees, would shock the tax payers in this county.

Jammin

June 28th, 2010
8:43 am

what’s the matter Judy – can’t you speak to the truth. as is well known the truth shall set you free. In a name – Wade Starr, controls

Happy St. Pat's

June 28th, 2010
10:38 am

I see campaign signs promoting Shegale Crute for County Commission, vs. Sonna Singleton. Last round, she ran for state house as Shegale Crute Ralph. Any relation to Wole Ralph?

Jammin

June 28th, 2010
1:06 pm

Shegale Crute use to be Wole Ralph’s wife. They split up a few years ago.

Happy St. Pat's

June 28th, 2010
1:14 pm

Jammin–Thanks!

Jodi

June 28th, 2010
11:36 pm

Jammin – Thanks! You said it!! :)