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Mecklenburg County Commissioners debate stimulus wish list

Mecklenburg County Manager Harry Jones says the county is considering furloughs and shortened work weeks to help retain jobs in a tight budget year. Meanwhile, the county's wish list for federal funds came under scrutiny at last night's county commission meeting. Last week, county officials traveled to Washington to pitch a list of construction projects totaling $170 million. It includes money for upgrades at Freedom Mall, facilities for solid waste and stormwater services, greenways and $25 million for improving Memorial Stadium. Those last two projects did not sit well with Commissioner George Dunlap. "I don't know that the greenways and a football stadium would've been top priority for Mecklenburg County in terms of a stimulus project," said Dunlap. Commission Chairwoman Jennifer Roberts emphasized projects on the list weren't prioritized since it's still not clear what the selection criteria will be. "The only guidance the federal government gave us was shovel-ready. They are setting priorities at the state and federal level. As we saw the stimulus bill has many, many different line items based and tied on to specific programs the federal government has put forward," said Roberts. County Manager Harry Jones says any federal money will likely not come until after next year's budget is adopted. The County Commission also unanimously agreed last night to record closed door sessions and release portions to the public that do not include personnel issues or other information deemed privileged.