CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - 2019 promises to be a big year for the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners. It’s the first time the county goes through the revaluation process since 2011, when residents complained about drastic tax hikes and the county manager was fired.
Four new commissioners sit on the board and there’s not a single republican.
At large commissioner Pat Cotham was elected in the wake of the revaluation scandal and helped oversee the firing of the county manager and an overhaul of the process. She's confident in a better outcome this time.
“I don't want to price people out of their homes, I don't want businesses to choose not to stay here to go to other counties because they can't afford it,” Cotham said.
New commissioners like Susan Harden in District 5 say they’ve been impressed with the process of tax assessor so far.
“Making sure we handle that process of people looking at their evaluation making sure that they feel like it's fair and if it's not fair they understand how to appeal that process,” Harden said.
Harden says she’s leaning toward deciding on a rate that’s revenue neutral. Property values have risen roughly 40 percent for personal property and about 70 percent for commercial property.
With a board made up entirely of democrats, numerous commissioners stressed to WBTV that they wanted to hear from a wide variety of constituents. Commissioner Cotham said she’s asked the county manager to invite the six mayors of Mecklenburg county to address the commission and talk about the issues that matter to their residents.
Here’s what some of the other commissioners highlighted as their top priorities.
Mark Jerrell/District 4 – “After hearing from the constituents of District 4 my top priorities are to proactively address the needs of our community, particularly as it relates to issues of equity, education, affordable housing, access to mental health services, connectivity via our greenways and ensuring that we have relevant programming at our recreation centers. It is also imperative that we work with other governmental bodies to comprehensively address our most critical issues in an effort to ensure the County is supporting a high quality of life for all citizens.”
Susan Rodriguez-McDowell/District 6 – “As a new member, my top priorities are as follows:
1. Constituent Service - I want to advocate for my constituents and make sure that they have a voice and have access to county services.
2. Revaluation - making sure that people have access to the help they need to deal with whatever occurs in the reval process.
3. Affordable Housing - tackling this important issue will take cooperation from many fronts. The county commission is eager to collaborate with other entities to come up with solutions.
4. Education - continuing the hard work toward equity in our schools, partnering with CMS and looking for ways to advance our mutual education goals. I am hoping to be part of the new MEAC committee. (Municipal Education Advisory Committee)
5. Environment Committee - I will be part of a team bringing back an Environment Committee for the county. This will be an extremely important topic for the coming year.
6. Upward mobility / Racial and income inequality - these were the passions that got me to run for the BOCC in the first place. I plan to keep these topics front and center in every decision and every vote that I take. Advocating for fairness, justice, and equity in all of the items mentioned above is extremely important to me because I believe it is all connected.
Susan Harden/District 5 – Addressing teacher pay and the supplement provided to teachers in Mecklenburg County. “I teach college students who graduate in the college of education and I can tell you that many of my students leave Charlotte to go drive forty minutes to South Carolina to go teach in South Carolina and go to other cities like Raleigh that offer a higher teacher supplement. So we want to make sure young people and experienced teachers feel compelled to stay in our community and provide the best teaching to our students as possible.”
Pat Cotham/At-Large – Regarding property revaluation – “I don’t want to price people out of their homes, I don’t want businesses to choose not to stay here to go to other counties because they can’t afford it.”