Friday, May 18, 2012

County Manager Recommends Sustaining Operations With Lowest Tax Rate In Years

Mecklenburg County taxpayers will experience the lowest county tax
rate in eight years if the Board of County Commissioners adopts the
FY13 budget recommended by County Manager Harry Jones.

Under Jones' funding proposal, the county tax rate would decrease by
2.44 cents to 79.22 cents for every $100 of valued property. As a
result, owners of a property with an assessed valuation of $200,000
would see a $49 annual reduction in their county tax bill.

"The FY13 Recommended Budget does not attempt to restore all of what
was cut over recent years; it does not accommodate all funding
requests," Jones said in prepared remarks. "Instead, this budget
reflects the Board's fiscal priorities and critical success factors,
with an emphasis on continued fiscal discipline and the sustainability
and affordability of County services."

Jones said his $1.41 billion budget focuses on sustaining County
operations while maintaining fiscal discipline. Taking that
conservative approach for the past few years is why revenues exceeded
estimates in the current budget year, Jones said, and it is why he is
able to propose a tax cut. On Tuesday evening the Board heard an
overview from Jones, who then asked Hyong Yi, budget and management
director, to provide the details.

Those details include more funds allocated for education services to
sustain operations and address growth in student population. Also
included are funds for the public health operation transition; taking
on the Medicaid Waiver service; restoring Sunday hours for regional
libraries, and money for two new parks. Money for the next revaluation
is also included.

A new fire service tax district for residents who live in Mecklenburg
County but outside of a city or town limit is included. Unincorporated
residents also will see a recommended 0.71 cents increase – for a
total of 19.37 cents – in the tax rate they currently pay for police

Ultimately, the Board will decide the tax rate and vote to adopt a
budget for the County. The nine-member governing Board is expected to
adopt a budget at its June 5, 2012 meeting. The Fiscal Year 2012-2013
budget will cover July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013.

The total dollar amount of the FY2013 Recommended Budget is
$1,416,308,228 and includes:

Education: The recommended budget provides $367.4 million for
education funding – not including debt service. This includes $335
million for Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools' operating budget and $27.3
million for Central Piedmont Community Colleges' operating budget. CMS
funding is a $9.1 million increase from FY12 to sustain current
operations and to pay for the growth in student population. For CPCC,
funding would increase by $1.5 million for its facility operations and
the transition costs for WTVI public television station.

Park and Recreation: An additional $727,000 is recommended for the
County's Park and Recreation Department to develop and operate two new
parks opening in FY13; expand the youth employment program from 30 to
45 youths, and replace park maintenance equipment.

Library: An additional $811,000 is recommended to restore Sunday
operations of regional libraries throughout the County.

Employees: An investment in County employees includes a 2 percent
increase to payroll for performance-based pay raises, and to fully
restore to 5 percent the balance of the County's match of employee
contributions to their deferred compensation accounts.

Public Health: The Board authorized termination of the agreement with
Carolinas HealthCare System by June 30, 2013, which means public
health services will transition from CHS to County operations on July
1, 2013. Although the full transition will occur at the beginning of
Fiscal Year 2014, the timing requires the County to fund and implement
the start-up of the transition in FY13. This transition start-up will
cost $2.7 million, including 17 additional Health Department positions
that will be filled during FY13.

Fire Protection Service District Tax: The Board authorized the Fire
Protection Service District Tax which created five Fire Protection
Service Districts with separate tax rates to generate revenue to pay
for volunteer fire services. The rates will vary by district with most
set at 5 cents. This shift in revenue source will eliminate from the
general fund the $2.4 million subsidy of the volunteer fire
departments. This reduction accounts for 0.2 cents of the proposed
county-wide 2.44-cents property tax rate decrease.

Law Enforcement Service District Tax: A tax rate of 19.37 cents, an
increase of 0.71 cents.

Residents have an opportunity to share their thoughts, concerns and
feedback on the Recommended Budget during a Public Hearing at 6 p.m.
on Thursday, May 24, 2012. The hearing is in the Meeting Chambers of
the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center, 600 East Fourth Street in
Charlotte. Online registration to speak at the hearing is available at
or call 704-336-2086. To view the complete FY13 Recommended Budget,
visit the County's website.