March 20, 2009
Summary of Governor's Proposed State Budget
On Tuesday, N.C. Governor Beverly Perdue released her budget proposal for the 2009-2011 biennium. As anticipated, the $21 billion general fund budget makes significant reductions in overall spending to balance declining revenues ($360 million less than the prior year, including reduction or elimination of 20 programs). Increases in cigarette and alcohol taxes along with $1.7 billion in federal stimulus funds help fill the budget gap.
While the reductions are significant, counties, in general, fared better than some had expected. The budget plan continues the allocation of lottery and ADM corporate income tax school construction funds to counties, and does not interfere with the final phase out of the Medicaid relief swap. The Judicial Branch budget includes a $9.7 million discretionary reduction. The Administrative Office of the Courts would decide where to make these cuts. Therefore, we do not know at this time the exact implications for Mecklenburg County's criminal justice system. However, as the largest judicial district, it likely will be significant. Funding enhancements include an additional $12 million in the probation system and $10 million in programs related to fighting gangs. The Cabarrus/Mecklenburg area would be one of two pilot programs for gang prevention.
Some other items affecting counties include a 7 percent reduction in Juvenile Crime Prevention Council and Criminal Justice Partnership Program funding; a $25 million (25%) cut to the Clean Water Management Trust Fund; and elimination of state aid to counties for social services administration. Public schools would lose $144 million statewide based on average daily membership and central office allotments would be reduced by 5 percent.
The General Assembly will review the Governor's proposal and develop its own budget plan over the next weeks and months, with the goal of passage by July 1. County staff is working on more thorough analysis of the Governor's budget and monitoring legislators' reactions to these proposals. We will provide the Board updates on the process and specific items of impact as the state budget process progresses. The Governor's budget is online at http://www.osbm.state.nc.us/ncosbm/osbm_library/superpubs/bgt0911.shtm
Exploring Opportunities for Sustained Change
The FY2010 budget presents numerous funding challenges. It also provides an opportunity to implement sustained change in the services we provide and how we provide those services.
As part of the FY2010 budget development process, I have directed staff to identify collaboration and consolidation ideas that could result in cost savings and other efficiencies. We know from experience that major consolidation efforts often require considerable time to plan and implement such change. Therefore, it is very unlikely that large-scale consolidation could be finalized by the time the Board adopts next year's budget. Still, we intend to continue pursuing the best consolidation and collaboration ideas, even if the due diligence requires us to wait until next fiscal year to make a final decision.
The ideas we are exploring include consolidating services and/or sharing resources in areas such as facility security, building construction and/or maintenance, IT infrastructure and services, and TV production and other public information services. We are looking within (department and service consolidation) and externally (e.g., CMS, Public Library, City of Charlotte, WTVI). County staff in Real Estate Services, IST, and PSI has initiated conversations on these topics with these business partners.
Some of these ideas, particularly inter-departmental collaborations or consolidations, may be included in the County Manager's Recommended Budget. Those ideas warranting further consideration and requiring additional examination will be identified as part of presenting this Recommended Budget in May.
Recently Board members received a letter from a Mecklenburg resident regarding an article in the Charlotte Business Journal on business recycling. The article referenced Mecklenburg County issuing a challenge to local business to recycle more. One of the questions raised is whether Mecklenburg County should provide recyclable collection for businesses similar to residential recyclable collection.
As a matter of clarification, Mecklenburg County does not provide recycling collection to either businesses or residences. The various municipalities in Mecklenburg County fund and provide residential recycling collection, and several provide limited collection to small businesses. Businesses may secure recycling collection from a number of private haulers that can tailor service to meet specific needs.
As part of our recycling services, Mecklenburg County does provide four full-service, nine self-service, and 60 business recycling drop centers throughout the County. Businesses can bring recyclables to any of these locations. The County's Solid Waste Services
, a division of the Land Use and Environmental Services Agency (LUESA), provides technical assistance (e.g. information, education, program promotion) to businesses that want to begin or enhance recycling. This is most easily arranged by calling the Commercial Recycling Infoline at 704-432-3200.
There is a County requirement for most large businesses to recycle. The Board adopted the Commercial Source Separation Ordinance
on April 11, 2001 and amended it to remove the "sunset" provisions on April 19, 2005. County Solid Waste Services enforces this Ordinance. This Ordinance applies to any business contracting for more than 16 cubic yards of solid waste removal per week and requires such businesses to recycle office paper and corrugated cardboard. The party responsible for complying with the Ordinance is the party responsible for collecting and disposing of the waste. This could be either the business itself or a property manager that leases the property and has the responsibility for waste disposal.
More Information on:
- Harry L. Jones, Sr., County Manager