• Meck Co. holds straw vote on teacher-pay raises

    By: Jenna Deery


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - It only took Mecklenburg County leaders 20 minutes during the Board of County Commission's straw-vote meeting Thursday to decide to move forward with its proposed plan to spend tax money.
    The board made one exception, and that was to hold the money going toward teacher pay raises.
    The straw vote is an unofficial vote but it gives an idea of where county leaders are heading with the proposed $1.5 billion budget before they approve a final plan, which will take effect July 1. 
    County leaders approved the recommended budget with little discussion.
    Commissioner At-Large Pat Cotham believes there should have been more talk about the budget considering the board spent hours Wednesday night listening to people's opinion on the budget during a public hearing. Many people spoke on the sensitive topic of teacher pay.
    "We are the jury that came back in five minutes and didn't talk about it, and I think that is pathetic," said Cotham. 
    The board made the change of putting on hold nearly $7.2 million that would go for 2 percent pay raises for teachers the county funds. They want to wait to see what raises state lawmakers approve first.
    "What we want to do on a local level is to match that raise but we don't know what amount it's going to take to do that," said Commission Chairman Trevor Fuller.
    County leaders are expecting a state budget to be approved by the end of the month. They feel confident they have enough money to meet the state's increase if it is more than 2 percent without raising property taxes.
    They are considering a sales-tax increase, to help fund pay raises, on Tuesday, when a vote to pass the budget is expected.

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