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Atlanta budget calls for more cops, tighter funds
by Caroline Young
cyoung@neighbornewspapers.com
June 21, 2012 03:43 PM | 686 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Monday, the Atlanta City Council approved the fiscal 2013 general fund budget, which will tighten spending and create the city’s largest police force in history. The council agreed to add 41 officers to the force, increasing the number to 2,000 officers.

The budget totals $542 million, down from $547 million in fiscal 2012. It calls for $526.6 million in projected revenues and was approved on substitute as amended by a 12-2 vote. District 9 Council member Felicia A. Moore and District 7 Councilman Howard Shook, who each represent part of Buckhead, dissented.

Shook said he is concerned the promise of additional police officers is not going to be fulfilled, and said voting against the budget approval was his way of expressing his “displeasure” with two issues.

“I’m concerned that the budget did not reflect the additional policing needed in Zone 2 and I don’t see why any constituents were supporting multi-million dollars in police budget, knowing we’re not going to get any,” Shook said, referring to the zone that includes all of Buckhead. “I had been lobbying the administration for more police and we were told that we ‘might get more cops,’ which is ridiculous.”

Secondly, Shook said he does not agree with the “hundreds of millions” going toward city employee benefits and salaries.

“If you look at the 8,000-plus employees of the city,” Shook said, “I think most consumers and constituents of the city services would expect to find that there were many more employees whose job performance should have been rated as unacceptable.”

Lastly, Shook said the Department of Watershed Management budget needs to be getting smaller, not larger.

“It was proposed to go up by $6 million,” Shook said. “We just got an extension from the federal government to spread out our remaining projects. This gives us an opportunity to contract the budget, not condone bloating it.”

In contrast, District 8 City Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean, who represents part of Buckhead, said she is mostly content with the new budget.

“The city is doing a great job providing services during a time when revenues are still declining,” Adrean said. “Our property tax revenue declined by between $13 million and $15 million going into next year.”

Adrean said she is pleased the city is able to increase services while keeping inside of the $100 million reserve balance mark without raising taxes.

However, she is concerned with Atlanta’s infrastructure.

“There simply isn’t enough revenue from the state produced by gas taxes to take care of our roads and bridges,” she said. “Of course, one of the solutions is taxes raised through T-SPLOST if voters are in favor of that.”
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