Will "cash only" budget affect other programs in Cabarrus Co.? - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Will "cash only" budget affect other programs in Cabarrus Co.?

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A called meeting of the Cabarrus County Commission resulted in a pointed back and forth dialogue between some on the board of commissioners and county staff.

Commissioner Jason Oesterreich has presented a plan to move the county towards a cash only system of paying for county services and schools. The plan was passed 3-2 by commissioners in March.

The plan outlined by Oesterreich would cut the property tax rate, make millions of dollars worth of budget cuts, and borrow as little money as possible.

The plan also called for a county budget reduction of more than $12 million over the next five years.

Oesterreich said in Tuesday's called meeting that the reductions were necessary for fiscal responsibility.  He said that if previous boards had acted responsibly, they wouldn't be in this situation today.

County leaders, saying that the cuts that would have to be made would greatly impact county services, presented two alternate plans.

During the process, several guidelines were presented, including three projects for a proposed bond list.

Those projects include $9 million for the Rowan Cabarrus Community College Advanced Technology Center, $11 million to replace Royal Oaks Elementary School, $23 million for a middle school in the Kannapolis City School district, as well as other guidelines outlined in the attachment connected to this story.

During the meeting, Deputy County Manager Pamela DuBois outlined the cuts that would likely take place to meet the budget reduction plan, and told commissioners that everything had already been cut, short of county services.

"Across the board cuts are effective," DuBois told commissioners.  "All they are going to do is disrupt services that are going on.  If the goal is to go down this road then we need to address it in a different fashion and that is to evaluate services and programs."

Two other budget plans were presented that reduced the budget by a much smaller amount.

Commissioner Oesterreich compared the presentation the county made to Chicken Little warning of the sky falling.

"I think this is a lot more about show than it is about anything else," Oesterreich said.  "We've had $50 million in surpluses and I think that the county does not want to make these cuts, they don't want to be held accountable and so this is a big show in order to come out and make people that want fiscal responsibility look bad."

"All of the proposed plans, C, E, and F, will require deep cuts in to the county budget," said County Manager Mike Downs.  "These cuts are not temporary, they are long term or recurring cuts."

The presentation on Tuesday lasted roughly 90 minutes and the meeting room was full.  Once a question and answer period ended, Commissioner Oesterreich suggested that commissioners would move forward with the "regular budget process," and would likely table any further discussion of the plans offered on Tuesday.

The full presentation made by county leaders is attached to this story.  It includes potential cuts to the county budget.

To see the entire proposed plan, click here.

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