Budget deficit to impact county commission meetings

By Michael Handy - bio l email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Mecklenburg County Commissioners are meeting Tuesday night for the first time since their yearly retreat, and the county's budget will be the most important piece of business.

Commissioners have to figure out how to deal with a $90 million budget deficit.  The shortfall amounts to a potential 15 percent budget cut across the board.

County Manager Harry Jones has said it will affect every single department from the sheriff's office and social services to funding for the school system.

The budget is not listed specifically on tonight's agenda, but it will have an impact on the decisions made at tonight's meeting and every meeting for the foreseeable future.

We know the county already has asked Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to return more than $2.5 million.

Also, every department has been told to stop all non-essential hiring and travel for the rest of this budget year.

Commissioners even delayed several voter-approved construction projects which equaled some $250 million in bonds the county was prepared to borrow.  Commissioners say now is just not the time to take on substantial debt.

One of the county manager's most startling comments has been that commissioners could eliminate all funding for the sheriff's office and still be faced with a deficit next budget year.

The budget is not finalized until June which means there is still plenty of time left to make further adjustments, including more job eliminations.

Mecklenburg County is not the only place dealing with massive budget deficits.  Union County Commissioners recently announced a similar round of cuts that also affects all departments and could mean the loss of hundreds of jobs in that county.

Click the red camera icon to watch Michael Handy's live report which aired during WBTV News at Noon.