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Fulton County Commission $1.2 billion budget supports criminal justice reform

Fulton County commissioners meet virtually in midst of pandemic and adopt $1.2 billion FY2021 budget, Wednesday, Jan. 20.

Fulton County commissioners meet virtually in midst of pandemic and adopt $1.2 billion FY2021 budget, Wednesday, Jan. 20.

Commissioner Khadijah Abdur-Rahman backs increases for Criminal Justice, Arts

The Board of Commissioners of Fulton County, Georgia, formally adopted the Fiscal Year 2021 Budget at its Recess Meeting, Wednesday, Jan.20. Together, with the General Fund and 10 other funds, the Commission approved a $1.2 billion spending plan for county services. The largest of the funds, the General Fund, allocates $800 million dollars to cover countywide services including health and human services, libraries, Grady Memorial Hospital, senior services, elections, and criminal justice services including the courts and jail operations. The vote to adopt the budget was 6-1.

The General Fund also includes $45 million for pandemic-related emergency services including coronavirus testing and vaccine delivery in the battle against Covid-19. Also, after lengthy debate, the Commission increased the proposed budgets of the Office of the Sheriff by $6.8 million (to hire more deputies and detention staff and grant pay raises) and the Probate Court by $250,000 (to expand services in North Fulton county). The District Attorney’s Office also will now be able to provide bullet-proof vests for its investigators. The Commission also allocated $250,000 to help promote Fulton County as a location for film and video productions, to attract more investment and bring new jobs from the arts and entertainment industry.

“I strongly advocated for these increases, especially for the Offices of the Sheriff and the District Attorney,” said District 6 Commissioner Khadijah. “We wanted to make certain, they had the dollars they need to ensure real criminal justice reform while keeping our law enforcement workers safe.”

“It’s one thing to say you’re for reducing crime. But you have to be willing to put some real dollars behind the effort, so long as the dollars are fully accounted for and deliver results that have a positive impact on people’s lives,” said Commissioner Khadijah. “We have a new sheriff and a new D.A. and I wanted to make sure they were not handicapped out of the gate.”

The General Fund budget as adopted also has a $133 million surplus; a “rainy-day” fund formally called the “Fund Balance,” that can be used to cover two-month’s-worth of county operating expenses in case of a financial emergency.

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