Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio will present her budget recommendations for the coming year to county commissioners Tuesday. This year’s county budget process comes at a time when funding for public education is in the spotlight.
Thousands of teachers from the Charlotte area and across North Carolina rallied last week in the state capital, pressing lawmakers for higher pay and other school funding. Leaders in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district are asking county commissioners to increase funding for CMS by nearly $40 million in the new fiscal year. That would include nearly $7 million dollars to boost the county’s supplement for teacher pay.
“I believe we may need to be a bit more bold than that," said at-large county commissioner Trevor Fuller.
He said the pay supplement in Mecklenburg County is lower than some counties in North Carolina.
"I think we ought to at least be on parity with other counties," Fuller added.
The budget recommended by CMS superintendent Clayton Wilcox and the CMS board would also include $9 million in capital funding for school security improvements – and $5 million to hire safety-related personnel including police officers, school counselors and social workers.
Commissioner Pat Cotham highlighted another issue facing the community. She said the county should join the City of Charlotte in investing more money to help provide affordable housing.
"We don't just have housing instability in the city of Charlotte –we have it in the outlying areas as well," Cotham said. "We need to offer help.”
Charlotte’s city manager has proposed more than tripling the city’s contribution to an affordable housing fund with a $50 million contribution in the coming fiscal year. Cotham noted that affordable housing is not traditionally in the county’s 'wheelhouse.' Still, Cotham said, "maybe we can do $20 million or $10 million or something."
Commissioners Cotham and Fuller both said they don’t anticipate a tax increase in the next county budget. County manager Diorio will present her budget to commissioners Tuesday morning at 11:30 at the government center. A public hearing will be held on June 4.
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