A plan to give police and firefighters in DeKalb County a raise is dead. With the stroke of a pen, DeKalb CEO Vernon Jones vetoed the measure, arguing it will lead to drastic cuts in county services.
Firefighters and police officers who were thinking about what they would do with more money have to put their plans on hold.
On Tuesday, DeKalb County Commissioners voted four-to-two to approve a four percent pay raise for all public safety workers, but Jones went to the Lou Walker Senior Center to veto the legislation, saying it would be too costly.
Jones pointed out that all county departments -- including senior services -- would have to trim their budgets by 1 percent. He said that would lead to drastic cuts in county services.
Supporters of the measure see it very differently. They said police officers and fire officers deserve a raise, and the county could pay for it by getting rid of millions of dollars in wasteful spending. The type of waste they were referring to was noted in an independent audit released earlier this week.
"We've tightened so much to where they want to jeopardize the livelihood of these seniors," said Jones. "Close this center down; close parks down; I'm not gonna do that."
"We can have better public safety, more officers on the streets, not behind the desks, and we can pay for it by being smart and making some targeted cuts, and by ferreting out the waste," said Commissioner Burrell Ellis.
Jones said he would support another idea being pushed by another commissioner to raise property taxes slightly to pay for the raises.
DeKalb's fire chief released a statement that said that he's optimistic the CEO and commissioners will be able to reach an amicable solution.