This was the good news shared by Clayton County Commission Chairman Jeff Turner last week as he addressed the new fiscal year county budget, his first as chairman.
The budget amounts to about $174 million.
“We have been able to put the budget together without a millage rate increase,” Turner said,” and we are pleased to be able to do so.”
However, Turner added, the county commission had hoped to find some room in the budget to give pay increases to county employees but the needed funds for that were not there.
Clayton County employees haven’t had a pay increase in approximately six years, Turner said.
“We are working hard and diligently to try to find some way to give our employees a pay increase in next year’s budget because they are so well deserving of one,” the chairman said.
Turner acknowledged Clayton County is facing what he termed, “very difficult challenges just like every other county.”
“We have a declining property tax digest and our school system has even lost revenue, so we have difficult challenges facing us,” he added.
In other issues involving the county commission chairman, Turner said he was honored to have been chosen to be on a panel, assembled by the governor, with regard to former DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis.
Ellis has been charged with 14 felony counts for allegedly pressuring contractors to contribute to his re-election campaign.
“Although I was honored and humbled to be chosen by the governor to sit on that panel, the reason for its formation was not one that I enjoyed,” Turner said.
Although he stopped short of calling Ellis a friend, Turner did say he was someone he respected.
Turner explained the panel was convened not to consider Ellis’ guilt or innocence of the charges against him but to determine whether his continuing in his position would prove a distraction to DeKalb County.
“We thoroughly discussed the situation involving Mr. Ellis and listened to both DeKalb’s DA and Mr. Ellis’ legal counsel,” he said.
“We recommended to the governor that Mr. Ellis be suspended,” Turner said.
The governor took the panel’s recommendation, suspended Ellis and appointed Lee May as DeKalb’s acting CEO.