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Mecklenburg County May End Year With Small Surplus

Mecklenburg County officials expect the county will end the fiscal year in June with about $11 million to spare. But that still means tough choices for next year's budget. About this time last year county commissioners decided to go against County Manager Harry Jones's recommendation and not cut schools, libraries, and parks as deeply. It wasn't a matter of finding savings elsewhere in the budget, but of boosting how much money the county expected to collect in sales tax. Budget Director Hyong Yi says commissioners were on target with their estimate. He expects the county will end the year with slightly higher revenue than projected. Yi says the county doesn't plan on making further cuts to next year's budget which starts in July, but there will still be difficult decisions. "The situation is better and we're going to have some more money, but we're not going to have enough additional revenue to pay for everything that everyone wants to pay for," says Yi. The CMS school board wants an extra $55 million next year and the library system is asking for another $2.5 million. CPCC and county departments are also looking for more money. On top of that, the county won't be getting $10 million of lottery money because the state is diverting it elsewhere. The county is expecting to get a small amount extra from boosting park fees. This week county commissioners decided to raise athletic field rental rates from $12.50 to $17 per hour and raise lighting costs from $10 to $25 per hour. The County Manager will present his recommendations May 17th. A public hearing on the budget will be held May 19th.