Cobb BOC delays decision on allowing Chairwoman to move funds from her contigency budget to operational

Cobb County government building sign, a vertical rectangular sign with the words "Board of Commissioners," "County Clerk," "County Manager," "County Office," "Employment," and a wheelchair entrance icon

by Caleb Groves

MARIETTA, Ga.– On Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024, the Cobb County Board of Commissioners approved revisiting of the reallocation of funding for the chairwoman from contingent to operational.

The 2024 budget allotted each commissioner and the chairwoman $200,000 of contingent funding for one-time expenses within each commissioner’s district. However, during Tuesday’s meeting, Chairwoman Lisa Cupid proposed a measure that would change contingency budgets to operating budgets.

This change would allow the Chairwoman to allocate funds without prior approval from the BOC, providing commissioners with the ability to allocate funds for communications and policy research on projects, special events, stakeholder meetings, food distribution events, travel training and office supplies, Cupid said.

The reason this is being proposed is to address projects that have been difficult to progress with the restraints and lack of autonomy of the commissioners. However, due to this being the first time this has been proposed, there are no estimates for the allocation of funds, Cupid said.

“And speaking to the budget analyst, it was very difficult to exercise for us to be able to put numbers by each agenda item,” Cupid said.

Commissioner Monique Sheffield said there needs to be some type of estimate attached to the funding to provide the public with transparency on how the funding is spent.

“I have a problem with you (Cupid) doing your own research on policy when we have to adopt it,” JoAnn Birrell said.

Commissioner Keli Gambrill was concerned about what this could mean for staff that is already paid to research and present the BOC to make studied and informed decisions for the county if research is going to be done from third-party sources, Gambrill said.

The BOC unanimously voted to pull the agenda item from Tuesday’s meeting and bring it back during the BOC’s Jan. 23, 2024, meeting, with the monetary expenditure estimates for how the $200,000 will be allocated.

“Since this is the first time we’re doing this, I’d really like for us to get this right,” Sheffield said.