Meck Co. Manager recommends no property tax increase for 2015 budget

by: Jenna Deery Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio told county commissioners Thursday during her first budget presentation that she has no plans to raise or lower property taxes for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, despite revenues being up 5 percent over last fiscal year.
 
The $1.53 billion budget has an additional 143 jobs that will include 24 new positions for Code Enforcement to help with building inspections, which has been a trouble area for the county.
 
The funding of 33 school nurses, to allow for each school within Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools to have a nurse, was also proposed.
 
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools requested an additional $46.2 million to help pay for costs associated with growth and raising employee pay by 3 percent for all 18,500 employees.
 
Diorio proposed giving CMS an additional $26.8 million to cover operational costs and pay for 2 percent raises for 2,822 employees, including 991 teachers it already funds.
 
Now, raises for more than 8,655 CMS teachers are in limbo. Most of those positions are funded by the state and Diorio believes their pay raises should come from the state too.
 
"The county historically doesn't fund raises for state-funded employees and it's really my belief that the county does not get into that business," said Diorio. "Once you are in it, you are in it forever and I think that will threaten the long-term sustainability of the county."
 
County commissioners have a chance to make changes to the proposed spending plan before voting on a final budget on June 17. 
 
Commissioners will have a public hearing on the proposal on June 11 at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center.
 
Much of what happens with the CMS and county budget depends on what happens at the state level.
 
Late Wednesday night, the state Senate released its budget proposal for education that included cuts.
 
CMS Superintendent Heath Morrison said the cuts could mean a loss of nearly $4 million for school transportation, along with funding for 900 teacher assistants and 77 classroom teachers.
 
The Senate proposed an average 11 percent pay increase for teachers, but it could come at the cost of their tenure.
 
It will be weeks before any final budget decisions are made and Morrison believes all decisions may be tough ones.
 
"All we can do is react to them and make the best decisions that we can," said Morrison.

Read more on Diorio's recommend budget by clicking here.