Mecklenburg Co. Budget Keeps Property Taxes Flat

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by Will Kennedy
Bio | Email | Follow: @willkennedynews by Photojournalist Bronson Hill

 CHARLOTTE, NC -- Mecklenburg County's proposed $1.5 billion budget would keep property taxes flat, while restoring services that were scrapped during tough economic times.

The budget plan also includes increased money for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, but not enough to give all district employees a raise.

"The county historically doesn't fund raises for state funded employees," says Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio. "And it's really my belief that the county should not get into that business, because once you're in it, you're in it forever."

Diorio's budget does include a two percent merit raise for some CMS employees, but falls short of what the school district wants.

CMS asked the county for an additional $46.2 million. Diorio's plan would fund $26.8 million of that, but not the remaining $19.4 million, which would have paid for raises for all CMS teachers and staffers.

"Our hope is always that the state will do far more, and then we could add on to that for our employees here in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools who have seen one small raise in the last five years," says CMS Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison.

CMS says 83 percent of its more than 18,000 employees live in Mecklenburg County, and put their money back into the county's economy. At least one school board member would like to see the county do more.

"Mecklenburg County can step up to the plate and do something, rather than being forced to do something," says Mary McCray, Board of Education Chairperson.

The state senate is proposing a teacher raise of more than 10 percent, but it comes with a price.   Teachers would have to give up their career status, and that's a tough pill to swallow.

"Teacher pay raises should not be conditional upon a teacher giving up their tenure or longevity," says Jordanna Maragos, a teacher at Myers Park Traditional School.

Commissioners will find out what county residents think about the budget during a public hearing on June 11. The budget is scheduled to be adopted June 17.

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