District 2 Commissioner Robb Pitts made the motion during Wednesday, Jan. 9th's meeting at the county government complex in downtown Atlanta. District 4 Commissioner Tom Lowe and District 6 Commissioner Joan P. Garner voted against the motion, with District 1 Chairman John M. Eaves abstaining.
The motion was made with the condition that the grant-writer position would be moved to the finance department and instructions made to the county manager to come up with a reasonably priced plan to have a presence at the Capitol.
“The director of this office makes approximately $56,000 and [gets] benefits,” said Pitts. “The other person [lobbying specialist] makes $163,000, which is unconscionable.”
Pitts said the employee only worked 40 days a year, when the Georgia General Assembly is in session, and compared the employee’s salary to that of an entry-level county attorney who essentially works 365 days a year and typically makes about $70,000 a year.
Eaves said he believed the board was making a mistake by getting rid of the department.
“In November or December, I met with five members of the delegation. … They encouraged us to have an IGA entity, but just as importantly, we have to be engaged in the process,” he said.
The possibility of outsourcing the lobbying function was discussed, but ultimately voted against.
Commissioners agreed the $250,000 allotted in the budget for hiring a lobbying firm would be better used in the community.
The board heard from about 60 residents asking funding not be cut for senior services, libraries, the county’s two nature centers, human services and the arts during a public hearing on the proposed fiscal 2013 budget.
“I have too many seniors skipping meals to support putting a quarter million into this department,” said District 5 Commissioner Emma Darnell.
Finance Director Patrick O’Connor presented budget information to the board in preparation of Wednesday, Jan.16th's fiscal 2013 budget work session at noon.
O’Connor said the fiscal 2012 proposed budget accounted for an $82.3 million deficit. The actual deficit was $30.8 million. The county expected to pull in $523 million in revenue and have $605.4 million in expenditures. The actual revenue from fiscal 2012 was $549.7 million, and the actual expenditures were $580.5 million, according to O’Connor.
He said the county’s tax revenue had decreased by about $85 million since fiscal 2009.