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Mecklenburg County budget proposal would give CMS half the increase it requested

Mecklenburg County
Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio presents her budget recommendations to county commissioners.

Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio has proposed a $2.1 billion budget that would increase spending by $111 million without raising property taxes. It would give Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools $20 million more than last year, which is about half the increase the school board requested.

Dioro says concerns over inflation, the labor market and supply chains make her expect moderate revenue growth from property and sales taxes.

“While I’m optimistic about next year, I am more certain than ever that the county must remain committed to maintaining our strategy of fiscal discipline,” Diorio said.

Recommendation for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

When laying out her recommendations, Diorio noted the commissioner’s decision last year to put money in a contingency fund to try to force the district to create a new plan for academic improvement.

“Since that time, CMS has advanced implementation of student-outcomes focused governance, made an important leadership change and presented to the Board of County Commissioners its goals and guardrails for improving student outcomes,” Diorio said.

Diorio says the extra money would allow CMS to meet its additional obligations next year, like positions to staff two new schools and higher rates for retirement and health insurance benefits. She says there would still be enough to increase the local supplement for teachers by 5%. CMS had asked for enough to increase it by 10%.

CMS board member Jennifer De La Jara says the 5% isn’t nearly enough to adequately attract and retain teachers. She noted the budget recommendation does not include money to increase base pay for teacher assistants and fund maintenance that could save the district money down the line.

School board Chair Elyse Dashew says she’s not sure how the county manager’s proposal would allow for an increase in the local supplement for teachers.

“Twenty million (dollars) of funding would essentially be, we’d have to find another $900,000 to cut just to cover the basics and then not have any of those new initiatives,” Dashew said.

Other budget proposals

Diorio recommends spending $13 million on affordable housing, including money for a mixed-income development in the Grier Heights neighborhood, rental subsidies and about $500,000 to research and develop strategies to address the impacts of corporate-owned single family rentals.

The county manager is also proposing to increase the minimum wage to $20 for Mecklenburg County employees.

You can read the complete budget recommendation here.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled May 25. The board is expected to adopt a budget June 22.

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