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Traffic camera fine money on a circuitous path to CMS

http://66.225.205.104/SO20090527a.mp3

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Peter Gorman is glad the Charlotte City Council Tuesday night voted to release $4.7 million in fines from the now defunct traffic camera program to the district. But WFAE's Simone Orendain reports, it's not yet clear how CMS will receive the money. After a combined 10 years in operation, fines collected from Charlotte's speed and traffic light camera program never made it to CMS. Instead the money went mostly to run the program. Charlotte ended it in 2006 after Guilford County Schools won a lawsuit that ordered the city of High Point, to pay 90 percent of fines collected to its schools. In the years following the decision, CMS Superintendent Peter Gorman did not pursue the money because fines collected must be funneled through the county. And this would mean the county would simply reduce its allotment to the CMS budget. Earlier this month, Charlotte City Councilman and Mayoral Candidate Anthony Foxx proposed giving the fine money to CMS. Gorman says he's happy for any additional funds, especially in this tough budget year. Still, he doesn't see it going directly to the district. He says, "So something like this wouldn't result in 4.7 million more dollars coming. There's been some discussion among some individuals that maybe they won't do that this time. So you get that piece. So you're excited about the dollars but you don't want to get too overjoyed, until you know, is that going to mean new funds?" CMS is trying to cover an ever-growing hole in its budget for next year. The budget plan is $86.5 million short of what CMS needs. Now, Gorman says, the state's own budget woes will likely push that to $120 million.