Meck budget changes lead to tense words

Meck. County debates budget changes

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - While trying to balance the budget, Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio and Commissioner Susan Harden got into a tense argument over what line items most deserved to be cut. Ultimately Diorio’s recommendations won out and county commissioners will move toward approving the FY21 budget on June 2nd.

On Tuesday Mecklenburg County Commissioners made more than $9 million dollars in changes to County Manager Dena Diorio’s budget recommendations including adding $3 million to solve food deserts and another $2 million to correct disparities in public health and more.

On Wednesday Diorio came back with a hand full of cuts to make up that money including deferring maintenance for CMS and cutting $400,000 in grants for the Arts and Science Council and $100,000 Read Charlotte

Commissioner Susan Harden took issue with the items that were targeted for reductions.

“The county manager is recommending cutting libraries, cutting more money to CMS,” Harden said.

“Cutting affordable housing, cutting arts and cutting reading programs.”

But Diorio fired back saying that overall the county is still pledging more money to the arts and reading programs than it did last year and that these cuts were the ones that could most easily be absorbed.

"There’s nothing in here that we believe would have irreparable harm, so I don’t appreciate you portraying it as i’m cutting education and arts and reading programs because that’s just not the case.

Ultimately county commissioners voted to keep the reductions to arts and science and reading in for now and revisit them in six months when they might have a better idea if funding for the Belk Bowl and ACC championship game will be needed. An even longer term issue is the concern over revenue. With Diorio and county commissioner Elaine Powell expressing concern over how they county will make up fund balance that next year that it’s spending this year.

“I appreciate fiscal stewardship,” Powell said.

“I think it’s going to be darker than anybody can even wrap their head around.”

The county’s next meeting on the budget is June 2nd when they will vote whether or not to adopt the budget.

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