By John Schaffner

Fulton County commissioners have approved a $588.7 million general fund budget for fiscal year 2010. The commissioners did not raise the tax millage and restored money needed to avoid a 4 percent salary reduction for county employees.
The commission originally recommended a budget of $573 million, a drop from $602 million spent by the county in 2009, but then restored more than $15 million in proposed cuts.
“Methods such as hiring freezes, reductions in positions, and investing in the jail, were key measures to assist us with reducing this budget,” County Manager Zachary Williams said.
The county was able to add money to the projected  budget because tax collections were higher than originally projected.
Commissioners made additional allocations to several county programs, including:
$400,000 for senior home repair programs for residents in Atlanta, Sandy Springs, and Johns Creek;
$900,000 for equipment to streamline the absentee ballot process;
$1.3 million for justice system programs, including $800,000 for pre-trail services, $426,000 for the public defender and $150,000 for the drug court;
$750,000 for grants earmarked for senior transportation and housing;
$750,000 for FRESH grant programs aimed at preventing juvenile delinquency and improving the health and wellbeing of young people;
$72,626 for an environmental planner.
Commissioner Robb Pitts argued that $4.2 million in court system cuts should be restored because judges and administrators warned their ability to process cases expediently would be compromised. However, commissioners settled on restoring only $1.3 million for justice system programs.