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Mecklenburg County adopts $2B budget, withholding $56M from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

Updated: Jun. 1, 2021 at 8:19 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Mecklenburg County has adopted a $2 billion operating budget for fiscal year 2022.

The $2-billion budget is an increase of $105 million, or 5.5 percent, over the current fiscal year 2021 operating budget.

A controversial part of the budget is that the county is withholding $56 million from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools until the district provides “an educational attainment plan to the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners that articulates the district’s plan for the spending of County dollars to address gaps in educational attainment.”

The county says conditionally-allocated county funding is for specific administrative categories that “do not impact the classroom.” This represents 11 percent of CMS’s Fiscal Year 2022 county appropriation.

During the meeting Commissioner Susan Rodriguez-McDowell made a motion to remove the CMS funding provision from the budget but only Commissioner Laura Meier joined her in supporting it.

Leaders of the faith community joined the meeting to support commissioners in withholding the funds from CMS.

“We do not have a crisis in finance we have a crisis in leadership!” Rev Jordan Boyd speaking on behalf of the African-American Faith Alliance.

“The work you do tonight can be a ray of hope for these kids and their families for generations to come,” Dr. Dennis Williams said.

Shortly after the budget vote, the Mecklenburg Board of Education released a statement saying they would seek “statutory resolution” in order to receive the funding.

The resolution process includes having the two boards meet and go through mediation. If no agreement is made there is a formula to follow to determine how much money will be disbursed.

“We are dismayed that this funding dispute has reached the point where we must seek statutory resolution -- but we will not stand by while the County impedes our efforts to educate students,” said Elyse Dashew, chair of the Board of Education.

The adopted 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.

It also funds the county’s critical services and programs. The adopted budget for Fiscal Year 2022 goes into effect on July 1, 2021.

Funding highlights include:

Reduce Education Attainment Gaps

  • $56 million is conditionally allocated to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and can be expended once the district provides an educational attainment plan to the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners that articulates the district’s plan for the spending of County dollars to address gaps in educational attainment. The plan should include quantifiable goals, strategies, targets, and timeframes to:

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

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

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
  • $2.5 million to match City funding to support the purchase of a Shelter/Hotel by the Salvation Army
  • $512,000 for the Salvation Army Family Shelter
  • $750,000 to support expansion of The Relatives new On-Ramp Center
  • $250,000 for the HOMES Program. The program 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

  • $20 million for park, greenway, and nature preserve land acquisition
  • $3.7 million for facility upgrades including on-site solar, deep energy retrofits, and the addition of two new positions to manage the program
  • $2.4 million for the purchase of electric vehicles and the installation of related infrastructure
  • $3.4 million for stream restoration to repair stream banks and prevent flooding
  • $743,000 for invasive species control and removal
  • $40,000 for an Environmental Justice Study

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 for ASPIRE Community Capital. The nonprofit supports underserved residents who aspire to become or who are already entrepreneurs
  • $25,000 for Prospera North Carolina. The nonprofit provides entrepreneurship programming such as seminars, consulting, grant, capital, or other planning services for Hispanic-owned small businesses.

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
  • $2 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
  • $693,000 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 10 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 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
  • $400,000 for additional park maintenance equipment and supplies
  • $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

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

Medic

  • $6.9 million to replace ambulances and cardiac patient monitors
  • $14.9 million in operations expenses including the implementation of MEDIC’s revised classification and compensation system

`Arts

  • $500,000 to support Cain Center for the Arts
  • $50,000 to support Park & Recreation’s Therapeutic Recreation Program in partnership with the Arts and Science Council
  • $30,000 of ASC funding to support capacity building pilot

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 capital reserve projects, facility maintenance, support costs and wage and benefit allocations.

For more information on the adopted budget for Fiscal Year 2022, visit mecknc.gov.

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