State of County address focuses on early education, economic growth

State of County address focuses on early education, economic growth
Republican response to the State of the County (Brody O'Connell | WBTV)
Republican response to the State of the County (Brody O'Connell | WBTV)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Chairman Trevor Fuller wrapped up a passionate speech Tuesday, saying that the "state of the county is good" and the future is bright for Mecklenburg County.

Fuller was responsible for delivering the State of the County address Tuesday morning.

During the speech, Fuller hit on a number of topics, from education to the economy. Fuller said that the unemployment rate in Mecklenburg County has dropped to 4.8%.

"That is even lower than it was this time last year, and less than half of what it was only five year ago," Fuller said.

Fuller also declared that there are no more homeless veterans living in Mecklenburg County. He said that was accomplished through the Housing Our Heroes Program Initiative, which found housing for 342 homeless veterans.

"We started it on Veteran's Day in 2014, as an effort to ensure that all who served this great nation in our armed forces, putting their lives on the line for each and every one of us, that those persons would never go without a place to call home in Mecklenburg County," Fuller said.

Regarding the economy, there was some focus on the county's current tax rate.

Republican board members told WBTV they were happy to hear that, during his speech, Fuller said that his 2017 fiscal budget does not include any tax increases. They are now asking for Fuller to call for a tax cut.

"We would like the County Manager to consider, in her budget planning, the effect of a one cent tax reduction," said Commissioner Jim Puckett, District One. "A one penny tax cut would equate to around $12 million in spending."

During the State of the County Address, Fuller elaborated on the importance of economic development. Because of rapid growth in the area, Mecklenburg County leaders have invested $130 million in capital recreation projects, including parks, Fuller said.

Fuller became very enthusiastic when talking about improving education, specifically early childhood education. He even proposed Universals Pre-K for families living in Mecklenburg County. He said that would give kids an equal opportunity from the start.

"Currently in Mecklenburg County, only 40% of third graders are reading proficiently at grade level," Fuller said. "The trends are even more disturbing for low-income African American and Hispanic students, who scored 31 to 33 points lower than white students."

Fuller said that creating Universal Pre-K would require support from local and national foundations, as well as State and Federal regulators, non-profits, and businesses.

Copyright 2016 WBTV. All rights reserved.