Commissioner Rader Digest

From Commissioner Jeff Rader:

February 2010

Here are some topics of interest from recent Board of Commissioner meetings:

Audit Committee
Health Care Goals
Public Safety
Speed Zones

Audit Committee
I have been nominated and confirmed by the Board of Commissioners (BOC) to chair its Audit Committee.  This committee, mandated by Section 10 of the DeKalb County Organizational Act, is charged with oversight of the county's annual financial audit. The committee also is empowered to audit the internal operations of county government.  Other members of the committee are Commissioners Elaine Boyer and Lee May.

The financial audit is to ensure that county tax dollars are accurately accounted for and spent consistent with the county budget.  The audit also analyzes financial and operational controls over county spending, and suggests actions to improve these practices.  The internal auditing authority may be used to analyze the overall performance of county operations.  The performance audit, which I discussed in my Oct. 27, 2009 update, is to ensure that county services are delivered in an efficient manner.

The results of these auditing activities will be shared with the full BOC, county CEO and the county's grand jury, as mandated in the organizational act.  The auditor's reports will be valuable tools for the BOC and county administration as they look ahead to the 2011 budget, which is expected to be just as challenging as this year's.

In the past, the Audit Committee's duties were included among the responsibilities of other committees.  By breaking out auditing as a stand-alone function, the important and mandatory responsibilities of this committee become the focus of greater and undivided attention.

To that end, the committee will recommend a candidate for an Internal Auditor staff position that has for many years been authorized but unfilled.  This position is consistent with the CEO's proposal to establish an Inspector General for DeKalb, which is intended to have similar responsibilities.

The Audit Committee will gear up for business after this year's budget is formally approved by March 1.  As its chair, I will work to provide transparency to the committee's work, and to guard against politicization of the audit process.

For explanation of performance audit, see link at end.

Health Care Goals
The Board of Commissioners formally adopted a resolution outlining 10 goals to address health care for uninsured, underinsured and indigent population. The goals are the product of a joint task force with Fulton County, which previously adopted the same resolution [for the full text, see link at end.]

Among the 10 goals are:
•    establishing a simplified electronic patient information system
•    using generic drugs when possible, to save money
•    directing patients to neighborhood clinics for preventive and follow-up medical care
•    lobbying the state to accept its fair share of costs for trauma care at Grady Hospital

Grady Hospital has made strides in improving the efficiency and costs of its operation.  Nonetheless, DeKalb and Fulton continue to bear a disproportionate share of Grady's costs associated with care for patients from outside those two counties.

In my December 2009 digest, I discussed transportation goals jointly adopted by DeKalb and Fulton counties. The two counties will continue to discuss their mutual interests.

Public Safety
Public safety continues to be my top priority.  In the last couple months, the Board of Commissioners (BOC) has approved multiple purchases, accepted federal and state grants, and allocated undesignated funds to improve public safety.

They include:

$210,000 for breathing apparatus for county firefighters
$207,000 for .40-caliber handguns for county police
$100,000 for homeland security, which supplements a previous grant of $405,000 accepted by the BOC last summer

$3.4 million for upgrade of a vacated building to serve as the South Precinct police station in Decatur (30032)
$1.0 million for renovation and expansion of Fire Station No. 10 in Atlanta (30316)
$250,000 for design of a replacement for Fire Station No. 3 in Avondale (30002), which serves District Two

I'm particularly pleased the county is taking steps to improve the infrastructure for its police and fire stations.  The Avondale station in District Two is an old one, built in the 1940s, and long overdue for an upgrade.

Funding for the police and fire stations listed here is coming from Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), a federal program funded and administered by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Department (HUD).

In recent years, I have pushed the county to apply CDBG funds in eligible communities throughout DeKalb.  Back in June 2008, I discussed the use of CDBG to fund new or improved senior citizens centers, including one in District Two.  CDBG provide the county with an alternative source of funding rather than dipping into its general funds.

Speed Zones
In order for county police to use radar guns to monitor speed limits, the state must approve the use of such devices on county streets.  As part of the approval process, the county is required to submit a list of its streets with designated speed limits.

The Board of Commissioners submitted to the state an updated list with revised speed limits on selected streets.  The state accepted the list and renewed the county's radar permit, which remains valid through the end of 2012.

To view list of assigned speed limits, see link at the end.

Performance Audit
http://www.commissionerrader.com/~commissi/reader-rader-updates/items/calibrating-work-force-size.html
Health Care Goals.pdf (71.9 kB)
Speed Zones.pdf (1.3 MB)