Memo details need to cut $8 million from DeKalb budget, while promising raises

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Channel 2 Action News has learned DeKalb County needs to cut $8 million out of the budget; meanwhile, some workers may get raises.

A memo obtained by Channel 2's Erica Byfield details the need for county leaders to take immediate action to reduce costs.

DeKalb County's chief operating officer, Zachary Williams, sent the letter to the county's CEO, Burrell Ellis.

Williams mentioned the county's original budget was based on a 3 percent property-tax decline, but new information showed the decline was closer to 7 percent.

"It is critical that we take action now to account for the anticipated tax digest differential, which equates to approximately $8 million," Williams wrote in the memo.

"The administration is now telling us they will start immediately to go department by department to begin to see where we should cut," DeKalb Commissioner Kathie Gannon told Byfield about the letter.

The memo surfaced on the same day DeKalb sanitation workers brought their salary concerns to the county's commissioners.

One man told the group of elected officials, "Please, please, help us. We need you."

After the meeting, Ellis told the workers there was money set aside in the budget to give workers making less than $37,731 a 3 percent raise.

DeKalb leaders said based on statistical data they gathered, anyone making below $37,731 was not making a "living wage."

There are nearly 2,500 DeKalb employees who make less than the "living wage." Increasing the pay of those workers would cost taxpayers close to $2.4 million.

It is unclear how the county's leaders plan to cut $8 million from the budget.

Gannon told Byfield she wants the county's lowest-paid employees to get a raise, but taxpayers may be faced with service cuts.

"We have been slicing and dicing for a long time and what I say to the taxpayers is services cost money and we don't have enough money anymore," Gannon said.