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Commissioners Plan To Adopt Budget With Strings Attached To CMS Money

Mecklenburg County commissioners are set to adopt a budget Tuesday night that would lower the tax rate by a couple cents. The most controversial piece is how commissioners are handling funding for Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. Commissioners are still smarting from what happened last year. CMS expected deep cuts from the state and asked the county for extra help. County commissioners agreed to the request. But then the state cuts weren't as bad as expected. Some commissioners, like Karen Bentley, felt they had been taken for a ride. "They come back to us this year with another ask and leave us to contend with the citizenry with this emotional debate around teacher pay raises," said Bentley at last week's straw vote on the budget. This year CMS Interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh says he can only give teachers a pay raise if the county comes up with an extra $26 million above last year's school budget. County commissioners have agreed to give $9 million extra, but want to make sure teachers really do get those raises. If the 3 percent raises don't happen for some reason, county commissioners put a clause in their budget to withhold the extra $9 million for CMS and cut another $9 million as punishment.