Wednesday, March 30, 2011

DeKalb Public Safety Director Questioned

Legislators and commissioners team up to stop budget nonsense

Representatives Tom Taylor and Mike Jacobs

At the request of DeKalb Commissioner Elaine Boyer, this week we will introduce local legislation to help the DeKalb County Commission stop the budgetary games that CEO Burrell Ellis insists on playing.

Lately, the CEO’s answer to every question appears to be “the county needs to raise your property taxes.” When the county commission took responsible steps to cut the county budget and avoid a property tax increase, the CEO irresponsibly charged that the budget cuts would result in a draconian slashing of police services. Of course, it is the CEO - not the commission — who controls whether or not the budget cuts have to be implemented in a draconian manner.

The CEO steadfastly refuses to eliminate the $150,000-a-year job of Public Safety Director William “Wiz” Miller. In a nutshell, Mr. Miller’s job is to make the police chief and fire chief talk to each other. It is such a challenging, important, and necessary job that it enabled Mr. Miller to be absent from work a whopping 82 days in 2010.

By the way, the DeKalb County police chief and fire chief are brothers. They don’t need anyone to “coordinate” their activities, let alone someone who is paid $150,000 annually to do so.

Commissioner Boyer, joined by Commissioner Lee May and supported by all five of their colleagues, has proposed that the General Assembly enable the county commission to break out police services as a separate line item on our property tax bills.

This would not prompt a property tax increase because the police line item would be broken out after the overall millage rate is set for all county services. It’s a mechanism for the county commission to tell the CEO exactly how much tax revenue is to be spent on the police, while constraining the CEO’s ability to spend revenues on positions and services that are less than essential.

The new line item also will not be levied on taxpayers in the city of Dunwoody or in a possible new city of Brookhaven.

We view this police line item legislation as a positive step toward ending the shell game that the CEO continues to play with the county budget. The county commission will be able to bolster the police while trimming the budget in order to hold the line on property taxes.

State Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-North DeKalb) represents Brookhaven and the neighborhoods around Murphey Candler Park and Silver Lake and can be reached at or (404) 656-0152. State Rep. Tom Taylor (R-Dunwoody) represents Dunwoody and Huntley Hills and can be reached at or (404) 656-0152.


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