Cupid’s Billion Dollar Budget
Lisa Cupids’ summer road show has ended, but not before the Cobb Chair got an earful, including rounds of boos and jeers, during the last of four public hearings she scheduled around the county. Cupids’ final “meet the public” event occurred in East Cobb where residents were not shy and did not hold back.
Many in attendance at the packed house at Sewell Mill Library shared their disapproval of Cupid’s staggering $1.4 billion proposed budget and her justifications for the excessive number, the largest in the history of Cobb. Residents demanded that Cupid abandon her billion-dollar push and instead slash and shrink the size of the government she now heads. Others in attendance called for her to roll back the 2022 millage rate, reducing it instead to a level that results in no increased tax revenue and no new taxes on residents.
Citizens peppered Cupid with questions and responses they did not agree with, which many, received unanimous booing.
Cupid’s billion-dollar proposed budget, which is on the agenda to be approved this week, includes 150 new positions that will be added to the county’s payrolls while raising the minimum wage to $17 an hour. These additions by Cupid will grow the budget by nearly $100 million. Many also expressed disbelief that Cupid wants to spend $150,000 to hire someone to tell her how to spend nearly $150 million in federal stimulus dollars received by the county. They point to Cupid having run for Chair on a platform that she would know how to govern and say she never said she would use County funds to hire someone else to tell her how to do her job. Also, once the funds are spent, what happens to the person in this position as their services would no longer be needed.
Others point to County Manager Dr. Jackie McMorris, saying she is rightly the person to be directing how this money is spent for the county and a new staff person is unnecessary. Insiders say Cupid will not allow McMorris to direct these funds, even though it falls directly under her job responsibilities for the county.
When Cupid turned the discussion to diversity and inclusion, someone accused her of trying to solve a problem that does not exist. “Diversity and inclusion are about giving value to every human no matter our differences. So my question … is, what are we doing to create an inclusive county? Is there anything we can do better as a county? Are we doing anything well with respect to this as a county?” Cupid asked. After being challenged by several in the room that felt that the county was inclusive and that Cupid was trying to create a diversity issue where none existed, one man yelled out, “Talking about inclusion, I’ve never seen the problem within school, at work, in church, stores, anywhere, so I think you’re looking at trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.” Cupid quickly backed away from the subject saying, “I never said it was a problem…In fact, in my first town hall, they felt very much there wasn’t an issue, and we left it at that. Nobody said it was a problem. I just asked the question.”
While being challenged on her budget proposal by some, others challenged Cupid on the delivery of services to their community. Cupid told the crowd that she had heard the same complaint in every corner of the county, and planned to use the billion-dollar budget to address the concerns. Cupid willingly admitted to the crowd her failures saying, “I know we’re not addressing all the needs that have been articulated by staff and the public, and I have citizens telling me they’re not seeing the return that they want …”
Political watchers say Cupid is not just failing in her governance of Cobb, but she is also tone deaf and failing to read the tea leaves when it comes to budgets. They point to past Cobb chairs who have felt the wrath of citizens following the passage of budgets with which they did not agree. They say Cupid will not be an exception. She will be forced to own her billion-dollar budget, like an insignia, come the next election cycle – which will be here before she knows it.