Macon Mayor Lester Miller proposes $85 million for public safety

Nearly half of the $198 million budget is devoted to public safety.

MACON, Ga. — Public safety was a top priority Tuesday as Macon-Bibb Mayor Lester Miller introduced his 2023 budget.

The mayor has proposed spending nearly $86 million on public safety out of the $198,207,688 budget.

“Public safety has been number 1, it’s the number 1 priority, but it can’t do it all on its own,” Mayor Miller said. “We need to use things like code enforcement. Code enforcement is very important to eliminate the plague.”

During the mayor’s state of the community address a few weeks ago, public safety was a top priority. In the 2023 budget, it takes center stage. Mayor Miller has thrown $500,000 for pedestrian safety updates like lights and sidewalks on Macon roads.

“The fact that you have Gray Highway where you can’t get from one side to the other safely, that’s a fact. We have to look at other ways to make sure we’re providing the best possible environment. to keep people out of those situations,” Miller said.

He also proposed nearly $86 million for first responders and emergency management. Some of that money would be used to give raises to sheriff’s deputies. Macon-Bibb’s chief deputy, Michael Scarbary, said increasing the salaries of deputies who are starting out puts them on a par with other Central Georgia law enforcement agencies. Scarbary and the mayor hope this will attract more deputies.

“The biggest thing we need right now is more employees. Officers. That’s the most important thing we need. Like I said, the shortage is affecting us, but it’s probably the most important thing in the sheriff’s office,” Scarbary said.

It will also help pay for a new fire training center that will open soon. Mayor Miller also wants more than $580,000 to help increase code enforcement. He says they work hand in hand with the sheriff’s office.

“If you map crime and you map plague, and shootings that happen in particular criminal havens, it’s all one, so we’re trying to fight it all in a number of different areas. “said Mayor Miller.

He says giving more responsibility to code enforcement will reduce pressure on the sheriff’s office and reduce response times.

The budget also included more than $160,000 for road improvements and community clean-ups. The mayor has also earmarked more than $620,000 to increase recreation programs, pay staff and arrange transportation for summer camps.

Another item of change at $2.9 million creates more space for new small businesses to open. Mayor Miller ended with more than $1.1 million for health and community services.

The commission is due to vote on June 21 at 6 p.m.