Mecklenburg County’s $1.99B budget addresses racial disparities

Updated: May. 23, 2021 at 11:01 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Mecklenburg County Commissioners’ proposed $1.99 billion 2022 budget is addressing racial disparities.

County Manager Dena Diorio is budgeting $10.4 million to help reduce the disparities throughout the county. Mecklenburg County Commissioner Mark Jerrell believes this is a step in the right direction but admits more funding needs to happen.

“When we’re talking about 400 years of systemic racism,” Mecklenburg County Commissioner Mark Jerrell said. “And institutionalized racism - I don’t think anyone budget cycle can address that.”

If approved, the county will invest $5 million in parks that are located in neighborhoods that have struggled with underinvestment.

“I love what we are doing relative to our parks,” Jerrell said. “Though we have a long way to go - we’ve come a long way in a short period of time. I love our environmental leadership action plan. We know that environmental justice is extremely important.”

If approved, $1 million will go to investments that will level the playing field for those who are marginalized.

“We want to be able to support people whether it relates to homeownership,” the commissioner said. “Workforce development, economic opportunity, and mobility through entrepreneurship and just overall access.”

Jerrell says it will take more than $1 million to help people succeed in Mecklenburg County.

“So far it’s one-time funding,” Jerrell said. “But we are going to fight to make sure that it becomes into the budget on a yearly basis.”

The plan also includes hiring somebody who will run the county’s Office of Equity and Inclusion. The county manager wants that position filled by October.

“I am looking for somebody that’s going to have an eye on the application of equity,” Jerrell said. “Not just talking about it, but having the eye around the application and also what does inclusion look like for those in the community that have been excluded...Having someone that wakes up every day and this is their job - that is their sole focus, I think that can be only beneficial to the community.”

The county is also recognizing Juneteenth as a holiday for county employees.

That is the day many celebrate many were told it was the end of slavery for all Black Americans.

The county is expected to vote on a budget on June 1.

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