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County officials speak out on difference in education funding in Meck, Wake counties

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

The education advocacy group called MeckEd looked online and found last year Mecklenburg County generated more property tax dollars than Wake County, but Wake County used 77 percent of its tax dollars to invest in education.

Mecklenburg County invested 49% of its property tax dollars to public education. Some wonder does Wake County care more about education because of the difference. Mecklenburg County commissioner Bill James thinks what the county does proves Mecklenburg county cares about education.

"You can't do much better," James said. "Than giving CMS roughly half of everything the county collects."

Wake county leaders claim Mecklenburg may have more financial issues to deal with than Wake and maybe that's the reason for the difference.  And they say examining Wake to Mecklenburg County is like comparing apples to oranges.

"You got to look at the whole picture," Wake County Deputy Manager Johnna Rogers said. "And really understand the differences between the counties." 

Rogers believes people should look at how much Mecklenburg county contributes to each student's education rather than the property tax amount.  This year Mecklenburg county is paying $3100 for each student. Wake County invests nearly $3300.

James also thinks taxpayers should know the other items Mecklenburg takes care of.

"If you look at the amount of money we give in operating supplements," the commissioner said. "You also have to look at the amount of money we give for capital projects to build schools, to add school security. We spent $30 something million to beef up school security in elementary schools."

Another difference is Wake County's recent bond referendum.  Last fall voters approved a nearly $900 million bond package to build schools.  Mecklenburg County leaders only approved a $290 million bond package to go on the ballot.  Wake County's huge referendum came with a price.

"With that bond referendum does come a tax increase," Rogers said. "And we put that out to the voters that it would be a 4.8 cent tax increase if they approve.

While some still think Mecklenburg county leaders can do better, others think CMS can do better with what it gets.

"If the county is giving close to half of their money to CMS," James said. "They ought to be able to make it work.
And if they can't, then I think the problem is with CMS."

This debate will continue as CMS tries to get $46 million more from the county to help educate students.

The education advocacy group called MeckEd looked online and found last year Mecklenburg County generated more property tax dollars than Wake County, but Wake County used 77 percent of its tax dollars to invest in education. Mecklenburg County invested 49% of its property tax dollars to public education. Some wonder does Wake County care more about education because of the difference.

Mecklenburg County commissioner Bill James thinks what the county does proves Mecklenburg county cares about education.

"You can't do much better," James said. "Than giving CMS roughly half of everything the county collects."

Wake county leaders claim Mecklenburg may have more financial issues to deal with than Wake and maybe that's the reason for the difference.  And they say examining Wake to Mecklenburg County is like comparing apples to oranges.

"You got to look at the whole picture," Wake County Deputy Manager Johnna Rogers said. "And really understand the differences between the counties." 

Rogers believes people should look at how much Mecklenburg county contributes to each student's education rather than the property tax amount.  This year Mecklenburg county is paying $3100 for each student. Wake County invests nearly $3300.

James also thinks taxpayers should know the other items Mecklenburg takes care of.

"If you look at the amount of money we give in operating supplements," the commissioner said. "You also have to look at the amount of money we give for capital projects to build schools, to add school security. We spent $30 something million to beef up school security in elementary schools."

Another difference is Wake County's recent bond referendum.  Last fall voters approved a nearly $900 million bond package to build schools.  Mecklenburg County leaders only approved a $290 million bond package to go on the ballot.  Wake County's huge referendum came with a price.

"With that bond referendum does come a tax increase," Rogers said. "And we put that out to the voters that it would be a 4.8 cent tax increase if they approve.

While some still think Mecklenburg county leaders can do better, others think CMS can do better with what it gets.

"If the county is giving close to half of their money to CMS," James said. "They ought to be able to make it work.
And if they can't, then I think the problem is with CMS."

This debate will continue as CMS tries to get $46 million more from the county to help educate students.

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