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Reducing racial disparities included in nearly $2B budget recommended for Mecklenburg County

Mecklenburg County commissioners have unanimously adopted a nondiscrimination resolution to...
Mecklenburg County commissioners have unanimously adopted a nondiscrimination resolution to protect the LGBTQ+ community and hairstyles.(Mecklenburg County)
Published: May. 6, 2021 at 5:07 PM EDT
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MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Millions of dollars aimed at reducing racial disparities has been included in a nearly $2 billion recommended budget for Mecklenburg County for fiscal year 2022.

County Manager Dena R. Diorio presented her recommended budget for fiscal year 2022 Thursday to the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners (BOCC).

The $1.99-billion recommended budget is an increase of $96 million, or 5 percent, over the current fiscal year 2021 operating budget.

The recommended budget maintains the current tax rate of 61.69 cents and funds programs and initiatives that align with the board’s five priorities for fiscal year 2022.

The priorities include expanding affordable housing, advancing environmental leadership, expanding MECK Pre-K, improving workforce development and reducing education attainment gaps. It also funds the county’s critical services and programs.

Funding highlights include:

Expand Affordable Housing

  • $7 million to support annual rental subsidy funding. This includes $1.6 million to expand the MeckHome Program.
  • $1 million to continue funding for the Habitat for Humanity Critical Home Repair Program
  • $2,500,000 to match City funding to support the purchase of a Shelter/Hotel by the Salvation Army
  • $512,000 for the Salvation Army Family Shelter Operating
  • $750,000 to support start-up cost for The Relatives new On-Ramp Center
  • $250,000 to baseline funding for the HOMES Program. The program was successfully piloted this year, and helps low to moderate income Mecklenburg County homeowners keep their homes by providing financial assistance.
  • $530,000 for supportive services for those experiencing chronic homelessness. Includes Roof Above, Hillrock Estates and, McCreesh Place
  • $82,000 to create a new Real Estate coordinator position to support the Elder Response and Habitat for Humanity Critical Home Repair programs

Advance Environmental Leadership

  • The Environmental Leadership Action Plan is funded for $22.7 million and includes: $3.7 million for facility upgrades including on-site solar, deep energy retrofits, the addition of two new positions to manage the program, and an Environmental Justice Study
  • $2.4 million for the purchase of electric vehicles and the installation of related infrastructure
  • $13.3 million for parkland and nature preserve acquisition, invasive species control, and funding for an additional Real Estate Manager
  • $3.4 million for stream restoration to repair stream banks and prevent flooding

Expand MECK Pre-K

  • An increase of $2 million to fund expansion of the program. The funding will allow for the addition of 16 classrooms, bringing the total number of classrooms to 105, with the capacity to serve up to 1,890 students.

Improve Workforce Development

  • $884,000 for Road to Hire. The funding will connect 330 low-income high school seniors to programming, paid apprenticeships, college scholarships and life skills support
  • $100,000 for marketing to promote the County’s workforce development strategy
  • $100,000 for monthly housing stipends for Meck Success clients for four months
  • $98,000 to add an additional position in the County Manager’s Office to manage the County’s Workforce Development strategy
  • $79,000 to create a Business Retention/Attraction position in the Office of Economic Development
  • $77,000 to support the Center for Employment Opportunities to provide job opportunities for residents who were formerly incarcerated
  • $75,000 for Youth Conservation Corps
  • $75,000 in additional funding for the Center for Community Transitions to continue its work with previously incarcerated individuals
  • $75,000 for a new position at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library to work on the digital divide and workforce development. The position will work to reduce the digital divide and develop sustainable workstreams to foster workforce development by leveraging library technology and resources
  • $50,000 for the Small Business Consortium
  • $30,000 to increase funding for ASPIRE Community Capital. The nonprofit supports underserved residents who aspire to become or who are already entrepreneurs
  • $25,000 to increase funding for Prospera North Carolina. The nonprofit provides entrepreneurship programming such as seminars, consulting, grant, capital, or other planning services for Hispanic-owned small businesses.

Reduce Education Attainment Gaps

  • $56 million in non-instructional funds in Restricted Contingency for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools based on the condition that CMS present a strategic plan to the Board of County Commissioners designed to improve educational outcomes and college and career readiness for all students. The plan must include quantifiable goals, actionable strategies, annual targets, and timeframes to:

Reducing Racial Disparities

  • $5 million for equity investments in parks that have suffered from underinvestment
  • $2.2 million for the expansion of the Unite Charlotte Program through the United Way of Central Carolinas
  • $1 million for equity investments that align to the goals of the County’s Equity Action Plan
  • $688,000 for 10 new positions in multiple departments, to implement the recommendations of the recently completed disparity study aimed at expanding opportunities and access for minority contractors
  • $692,500 in new funding for the Arts and Science Council bringing the total investment to $2.1 million
  • $600,000 for the Fine Free Initiative at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library. The initiative permanently eliminates fees and fines for overdue library materials. Eliminating these fines will allow 40,000 residents, who have lost their library privileges to have their access reinstated.
  • $80,000 to support Arts+ in their new space at the historic Morgan School
  • $15,000 a year for ten years to support the restoration of the Siloam School.
  • $87,000 for a new position in the Office of Equity and Inclusion
  • $50,000 to baseline funding for My Brother’s Keeper
  • $9,200 in additional funding to support Race Matters for Juvenile Justice

Public Health

  • $753,000 for equity adjustments for school health nurses.
  • $96,000 for two new school health nurses. The funding will support two new schools opening in August, Sandy Porter Road Elementary School and North K-8 Language Academy
  • $388,500 for ongoing food security programs
  • $610,000 for the Prep Community Initiative
  • $224,000 for equity adjustments for environmental health inspectors
  • $75,000 for the Department’s TB clinic.
  • $221,000 to support the Children’s Developmental Services Agency
  • $160,000 for the Department’s contract with LabCorp and $175,000 for the increased costs associated with leased space for the WIC program

Department of Social Services

  • $2 million to support the creation of a Behavioral Health Urgent Care in Mecklenburg County. This initiative will be in partnership with the Steve Smith Family Foundation. The goal of behavioral health urgent care centers is to provide a community-based option to stabilize individuals experiencing behavioral health crises in a way that reduces unnecessary trips to the emergency room, hospitalizations, and even incarcerations.
  • $200,000 to support child welfare prevention services as required by the new Families First Prevention Services Act.
  • $125,000 for the County’s contribution to the Family Justice Center
  • $592,000 to offset anticipated revenue reductions in the Mecklenburg Transportation System (MTS) associated with the implementation of Medicaid transformation

AFM (Asset and Facility Management or real estate management)

  • $1.0 million to cover maintenance for new, expanded and acquired properties. This includes contractual increases for County libraries, park and recreation facilities, government buildings and the courts. It also includes maintenance for new assets like the Pineville Library and the Library Support Center on Eastway Drive
  • $955,000 to support the maintenance of the new North Meck Regional Recreation Center
  • $213,000 for projected utility rate increases
  • $157,000 for increases in contracted security
  • $110,000 for enterprise security software maintenance

ITS (Information Technology Services)

  • $1.2 million for personnel. The funding will create 14 new positions.
  • $2.6 million for software upgrades, network capabilities, and security

Park and Recreation

  • $2 million for staffing of the new North Regional Rec Center. The funding will support 14 full-time, 14 part-time and 75 limited part time positions
  • $250,000 for additional mowing services at various facilities
  • $215,000 for maintenance and operations at 11 facilities
  • $140,000 for two new positions at Ramblewood athletic fields and McDowell Campground

Employee Investments

  • $25 million to implement the revisions to the classification and compensation system. Implementation would guarantee a minimum 3% increase for all employees.
  • $779,000 to bring all part-time positions in the County to a $15 per hour minimum wage, matching full-time employees
  • $155,000 for an additional HR recruiter and the purchase of an applicant tracking system
  • The addition of the Juneteenth Holiday, a holiday that commemorates the day enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas learned of their emancipation.

Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office

  • $2.1M for Sheriff’s Office operations. Funding will support an increase to the overtime budget, as well as the addition of onsite employee assistance & counseling to provide an array of services to our public safety personnel

Medic

  • $6.9 million to replace ambulances and cardiac patient monitors
  • $455K to support the implementation of MEDIC’s revised classification and compensation system

Community Service Grants

  • $600,000 for the Youth Advocate Program, for community-based alternatives to institutional placements for juveniles
  • $30,000 to the Ada Jenkins Center for family stability and financial management services
  • $75,000 to the Charlotte Rescue Mission for comprehensive substance use recovery services
  • $50,000 to Hope Haven for therapeutic services for the children of parents who are struggling with substance use
  • $40,000 to Jewish Family Services of Greater Charlotte to support Jewish seniors living with financial insecurity

Central Piedmont Community College

  • $1.5 million to support  facility maintenance and operations and deferred capital maintenance

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

  • $6.1 million. The funds will support the following:

Next Steps:

The board of county commissioners will hold a virtual public hearing to receive input on the FY2022 Recommended Budget on Wednesday, May 12 at 6 p.m.

Following the public hearing, the board will hold a Straw Vote session on May 26-27, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

The Board is scheduled to adopt the Fiscal Year 2022 Recommended Budget on Tuesday, June 1. The Fiscal Year 2022 Budget will take effect July 1, 2021.

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