Atlanta, Georgia

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Atlanta is the capital city of Georgia. It is the most populous city in Georgia. According to the 2010 census, Atlanta's population is 420,003. The Atlanta metropolitan area, with 5,268,860 people, is the third largest in the Southern United States and the ninth largest in the country. Atlanta is the county seat of Fulton County and the location of the seat of government of the state of Georgia.

Budget

On May 2, 2011, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed proposed a budget of $545 million for the 2012 fiscal year. It represented a $15 million cut from the previous year's budget, necessary because of an $18 million spending gap.[1] Included in the proposed budget was a 3% pay cut for all city employees making over $80,000/year, affecting about 300 personnel.

Stimulus

In July 2010, an audit report was released by the Department of Justice, concerning the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants (Byrne JAG), including a 2009 Recovery Act grant, awarded by the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), to the city of Atlanta, Georgia.[2] According to the audit, the city received more than $9 million from these grants since 2006, over half of which came from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The audit revealed that the city of Atlanta did not have sufficiently trained staff to manage the grants, that the city incorrectly reported the number of jobs created, and the city charged nearly $200,000 in unsupported costs. The $200,000 was for conflict resolution classes conducted by Southern Christian Leadership Conference, but the audit claimed there was inadequate documentation for 61 percent of the money, including over $1,000 spent reimbursing the SCLC executive director for gasoline costs.[3]

Public Employees

Elected Officials

Atlanta is governed by a mayor and the Atlanta City Council. The city council consists of 15 representatives—one from each of the city's 12 districts and three at-large positions (a district system superseded the ward system in 1954). City council elections in Atlanta are nonpartisan and staggered, and each term is four years.

Title Name Salary First elected Miscellaneous
Mayor Kasim Reed $147,000[4] 2010 Kasim Reed on Twitter
City Council President Ceasar C. Mitchell unknown 2001 Ceasar Mitchell on Twitter
Councilmember Dist. 1 Carla Smith] unknown 2001 Carla Smith Dist. 1 Website
Councilmember Dist. 2 Kwanza Hall unknown 2005 Kwanza Hall on Twitter
Councilmember Dist. 3 Ivory Lee Young, Jr. unknown 2001 Ivory Lee Young, Jr on Facebook
Councilmember Dist. 4 Cleta Winslow unknown 1994 Cleta Winslow Dist. 4 website
Councilmember Dist. 5 Natalyn Mosby Archibong unknown 2001 Natalyn Archibong Dist. 5 website
Councilmember Dist. 6 Alex Wan unknown 2009 Alex Wan on Twitter
Councilmember Dist. 7 Howard Shook unknown 2001 Howard Shook Dist. 7 website
Councilmember Dist. 8 Yolanda Adrean unknown 2009 Yolanda Adrean on Facebook
Councilmember Dist. 9 Felicia Moore unknown 1997 Felicia Moore Dist. 9 website
Councilmember Dist. 10 C.T. Martin unknown 1990 C.T. Martin Dist. 10 website
Councilmember Dist. 11 Keisha Bottoms unknown 2009 Keisha Bottoms Dist. 11 website
Councilmember Dist. 12 Joyce Sheperd unknown 2004 Joyce Shepard on Twitter
Councilmember Post 1 At-Large Michael Julian Bond unknown 2009 Michael Bond Post 1 website
Councilmember Post 2 At-Large Aaron Watson unknown 2009 Aaron Watson on Facebook
Councilmember Post 3 At-Large H. Lamar Willis unknown 2001 H. Lamar Willis Post 3 website

Administrative Officials

Title Department Name Salary Appointed/Hired
General Manager Department of Aviation Louis E. Miller unknown 2010
Interim Deputy General Manager Department of Aviation Robert Kennedy unknown 2010
Chief information officer Department of Aviation Lance Lyttle unknown unknown
Assistant general manager (interim) Department of Aviation, Airport Operations Balram Bheodari unknown unknown
Assistant general manager Department of Aviation, Planning & Development Jim Drinkard unknown unknown
Assistant General Manager Department of Aviation, Commercial Development Arnaldo Ruiz unknown unknown
Assistant General Manager Department of Aviation, Chief Financial Officer Milton M. Castillo unknown unknown
Director Department of Aviation, Office of Public Affairs Myrna White unknown unknown
Director of Administrative/Legislative Services Department of Corrections, Admin Svcs. Patricia Smith unknown unknown
Assistant Chief Department of Corrections, Detention Division Diane Jones unknown unknown
Client Service Manager Department of Corrections, Inmate Programs & Services Camille Smith, ACSW, LCSW unknown unknown
Director of Nursing Services Department of Corrections, Inmate Medical Services Genevieve Offoha, RN, BSN, MPA unknown unknown
Director Department of Finance, Administrative & Legislative Services Margaret Crenshaw unknown unknown
Interim Budget Chief Department of Finance, Office of Budget & Fiscal Policy Carol King unknown unknown
Controller Department of Finance Thomas Gregg Richardson unknown unknown
Treasurer Department of Finance Vacant - -
Director Department of Finance, Office of Grant Services Lee Hannah unknown unknown
Revenue Chief Department of Finance, Office of Revenue Gary Donaldson unknown unknown

Salaries

See also: Georgia state government salary


Pensions

See also: Georgia public pensions


City of Atlanta pension benefits are available under two distinct plans, Defined Benefits and Defined Contribution. The Department of Human Resources’ Pension Division is the liaison between employees/retirees, and the third party pension administrators responsible for managing these plans.

In 2010, a report by the Pension Review Panel created by newly-elected Mayor Kasim Reed in Atlanta stated that the city's unfunded pension liability had grown 21 percent per year since 2001, and the pension funds had dropped from 83 to 53 percent funded. The annual pension contribution rose 13 per cent every year over the past ten years and is projected to continue to grow. By law, the City of Atlanta is required to pay these costs and it cannot be deferred.[5]

In March 2011, Mayor Kasim Reed set forth two proposals for the council to consider for pension reform. The first part of the proposal would commit Atlanta to pay off its debt over the next 30 years, a significant change from current practive. Reed told the council that, in essence, the city currently pays only interest on its unfunded pension liability, while the principal continues to grow.

Mayor Reed outlined two different options for the council to consider.[6]

  • Option 1 - All employees would be moved to a defined contribution plan (similar to a 401K in the private sector) in which employees contribute 6 percent of their salary and the City of Atlanta contributes 6 percent. This option reduces the city’s annual required contribution to the pension fund by between $27 and $31 million in the first 5 years. City employees above a certain pay grade – including Mayor Reed, Cabinet members and almost 1,000 other employees – have been in such a plan since 2001.
  • Option 2 - All employees would have the individual choice to enter into the federal Social Security system. The City of Atlanta would match up to 8 percent of employee contributions for those who opt into Social Security or up to 12 percent for those who opt out. This second option reduces the city’s annual required contribution by between $12 and $18 million in the first 5 years.

Pension reform remains a hot topic for the Atlanta city council in the FY2012 budget debate. Mayor Kasim Reed requested that the council have a plan for pension reform by June 30, 2011. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported on May 26, 2011 that 20 cents of every dollar in the city’s budget goes toward pension payments. The city has a $1.7 billion unfunded pension liability.[7] Mayor Reed told the AJC, "“Allowing the city’s unfunded pension liability, already a staggering $1.7 billion dollars, to grow while critical city services and more than 2,000 employees have been laid off is unconscionable and an abdication of fiduciary duty."

Atlanta faces an unfunded pension liability of $1.5 billion at last estimate. In 2011, the city announced changes that increased worker contributions to their retirement accounts and, for new police and firefighters, a hybrid retirement plan that merges a traditional pension with a 401(k)-style plan. The plan is intended to save more than $500 million over 30 years. [8]

Lobbying

See also: Georgia government sector lobbying


According to OpenSecrets.org, the city of Atlanta spent $80,000 on lobbying in 2010. They contracted with the firm Holland and Taylor. The issues the city lobbied the federal government on were: aviation policy and funding.

Transparency & public records

There are 1,094 active and former employees and city elected officials in Atlanta who are required to file the 2010 City Financial Disclosure Statement. Persons file every year that they are employed by the city and the year after they leave their city job. These forms are not available to the public on the city website.[9]

Taxes

In 2010, the total property tax levy for the city of Atlanta was $264.3 million, according to the budget report for 2011. The city direct sales tax rate (Municipal Option Sales and Use Tax) is 1.00%, adopted in 2004 (the total sales tax rate within the city limits of Atlanta is 8.00%, due to the inclusion of county sales taxes in Fulton County.

Website evaluation

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Budget Y
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Meetings Y
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Elected Officials Y
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Administrative Officials Y
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Permits, zoning Y
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Audits N
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Contracts Y
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Lobbying N
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Public Records N
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Local Taxes N
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Transparency grading process
Main article: Evaluation of Georgia city websites

The good

  • Zoning information [10] and building permits [11] are available.
  • Information on bids and proposals are available [12]
  • Agendas [13], but there are no minutes for the city council meetings.
  • The Mayor and city council officials contact information and detailed biographies are posted online.[14]
  • Budget reports are available. [15]

The bad

  • Lobbying information and ethics is not noted
  • There is no checkbook register available
  • There is no information on local taxes
  • No information on how citizens can request public records
  • There are no audits available

External links


References