CMS Strategic Plan
As you know, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Peter Gorman has finalized a strategic plan for CMS. Dr. Gorman has asked to provide this plan to the Board of County Commissioners at the Board’s December 19 meeting. In addition, at this meeting, Dr. Gorman will request that the Board appropriate to CMS the $500,000 in restricted contingency.
As part of adopting the FY 2007 budget, the Board placed $500,000 in restricted contingency as potential funding for CMS to develop a plan for and/or implement weighted student funding and decentralized operations. These are two elements contained within the CMS Strategic Plan. We anticipate receiving hard copies of the strategic plan in time to be included with the December 19 agenda packets that will be distributed to the Board.
Post-Employment Benefits on January Workshop
In a previous Board Bulletin we provided the Board with background on new accounting and reporting rules (GASB 45) for benefits provided to retirees by state and local governments. The new standards are being phased in with the largest (by size of budget) government units having to implement the new requirements in FY2008.
Under GASB 45, governments are required to report in the annual report post-employment benefits such as pensions and medical care to be provided to retired employees. Although this liability is not new, calculating and disclosing the amount in year-end financial statements will provide new information about the current and future cost of these benefits.
To calculate Mecklenburg County’s post-employment benefits liability, we contracted with Mercer Human Resource Consulting to conduct an actuarial review as of August 1, 2006. At its January 10 public policy workshop, the Board will receive a briefing on the results of the review, along with staff analysis and recommendations regarding impacts on the County. Because County employees’ retirement benefits are funded through the state, the impacts to the County relate only to medical benefits provided to County retirees.
The Board’s workshop will involve discussion about two key decisions to be made, as follows:
- Do we continue to budget this liability on a paygo basis or establish a mechanism to fund the post-employment benefits liability reported through GASB 45?
- Should we review the County’s retiree benefits package and/or fund these benefits in a different way to lower the total liability and unfunded liability? A key consideration here is to understand the County’s existing legal requirements regarding benefits being provided to current retirees and obligations for active employees upon retirement.
It is important to note that GASB 45 does not require funding the cost of post-employment benefits. Currently, the County funds the annual cost on a pay-as-you-go (paygo) basis. However, there are questions about whether continuing on a paygo basis will affect the County’s bond rating since the liability is considered an obligation that if not funded will continue to grow. As detailed below, potential impacts will be further explained the Board’s upcoming workshop.
Update on Technology Projects
The Board’s January 10 workshop also will include a status report regarding the County’s investment in technology. Currently, we have 25 active projects being managed by the County’s Information Services & Technology (IST) Department in collaboration with County departments and various vendors. These projects range in cost from $100,000 to multi-year, multi-million investments such as purchasing new voting machines and replacing the tax system.
Recently, we restructured existing staffing within IST to form a consolidated program management office (PMO) that provides oversight and quality assurance for all IT projects. Prior to this restructuring, this activity was performed by the technology development teams assigned to each project. Consolidating this function provides greater autonomy for quality assessment and ensures more consistency in project management oversight across all projects.
The purpose of the briefing is to ensure transparency about the progress of these projects, and to ensure the Board is familiar with the due diligence staff undertakes as stewards of these projects.
Mecklenburg County values its tradition of honoring the service of retired County employees. For several years this has been in the form of a reception in early December at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center. This event was designed to express the County’s appreciation for retirees’ dedicated service as well as provide them with an opportunity to remain connected with other retired County employees. In recent years, attendance at the reception has declined significantly. Given the past low attendance, the Human Resources Department will not host the event this December, but will use this time as an opportunity to research the interest of County retirees. Next week a letter and short survey will be sent to County retirees explaining the situation and soliciting feedback.
As is the case with all of our customers, we need to be clear about our retirees’ interests and expectations in order to fulfill them. I will update the Board on the results of the survey and notify you of any future event honoring County employees.
Mark Your Calendar
Monday, Dec. 4, 2006:
Board Swearing-in Ceremony
Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2006:
Dinner Meeting, 5 p.m., CH-14
Regular Meeting, 6 p.m., Meeting Chamber
--Harry L. Jones, Sr., County Manager