The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to approve a $559 million county budget for 2013 that includes no tax increase.
The budget is a reduction of county CEO Burrell Ellis' proposed $565 million budget that would have raised taxes by .64 mills or about $20 on a $200,000 home.
The budget restores $900,000 for the county's understaffed permitting and licensing system, which has been subject to significant budgetary slashing over the last several years as county construction and development waned in a sagging economy.
Commissioner Lee May of District 5 -- which includes Lithonia and a section of Stone Mountain -- talked about the county's permitting and zoning issues as part of a panel discussion on economic development Wednesday.
That money was removed from the budget this week, worrying some that long waits for permits and licenses could force business and development to other counties, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Commissioners reluctantly restored the $900,000 but added a qualifier saying the county couldn't spend it until the board further discusses its use.
Other cuts to avoid a tax increase include cutting the county's $100,000 lobbying contract and eliminating the the public safety director's office for a $250,000 savings. The board also adjusted the police department's budget after it discovered the department was holding vacant positions open while seeking an additional 25 officers. The board said the department could hire those 25 officers but could not hold any positions open, and the change resulted in a $1 million savings.
The board voted to add the same condition to the fire department, which seeks to add 44 positions. Reductions to electricity and natural gas spending also cut the budget by more than $1.4 million. County libraries got a boost in the approved budget. The board added $100,000 for new materials.