MACON, Ga. — Public safety was a top priority Tuesday as Macon-Bibb Mayor Lester Miller introduced his 2023 budget.
The mayor proposed spending almost $86 million for public safety out of the $198,207,688 budget.
"Public safety has been no.1, it's the number 1 priority, but it can't do everything by itself," Mayor Miller said. "We have to use things like code enforcement. Code enforcement is very important in eliminating blight."
At the mayor's state of the community address a few weeks back, public safety was a big focus. In the 2023 budget, it takes center stage. Mayor Miller pitched $500,000 for pedestrian safety updates, like lights and sidewalks on Macon roads.
"The fact that you've got Gray Highway where you can't get from one side to the other safely, it's a matter of fact. We have to look for alternative ways to make sure we provide the best environment we can to keep people out of those situations," Miller said.
He also proposed almost $86 million for first responders and emergency management. Part of that money would go toward giving raises to sheriff's deputies. Macon-Bibb Chief Deputy Michael Scarbary says bumping the pay for deputies just starting out has put them on par with other Central Georgia law enforcement. Scarbary and the mayor hope it'll attract more deputies.
"The biggest thing we need right now is more employees. Officers. That is the most important thing we need. Like I said, the shortage is affecting us, but that's probably the biggest thing at the sheriff's office," Scarbary said.
It'll also help pay for a new fire training center breaking ground soon. Mayor Miller also wants over $580,000 to help grow code enforcement. He says they work hand-in-hand with the sheriff's office.
"If you lay a map down for crime and you lay a map down for blight, and for shootings that happen at particular crime havens, it's all one in the same, so we're trying to combat it all in several different areas," Mayor Miller said.
He says giving code enforcement more responsibilities will take pressure off the sheriff's office and reduce response times.
Also in the budget was over $160,000 for highway beautification and community cleanups. The mayor also budgeted over $620,000 to increase recreation programming, pay staff and arrange transportation for summer camps.
Another chunk of change at $2.9 million is developing more room for new small businesses to open. Mayor Miller rounded things off with over $1.1 million for health and community services.
The commission is set to vote June 21 at 6 p.m.