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May 1, 2009

Public Square Phase out Recommended

As part of considering our new reality in light of the recession, we have discussed the need to think differently about the priorities and services funded by Mecklenburg County. With this in mind, the County Manager’s Recommended Budget for FY2010 will include two recommendations regarding WTVI’s Public Square channel. The first recommendation is a funding reduction of approximately 9.75% ($285,000) of the total FY2009 Public Square appropriation of $2.9 million (which includes $1.5 million in debt service costs). Secondly, I will recommend the Board take action to phase out funding of Public Square.

I am attaching to this Board Bulletin a memorandum from General Manager John McGillicuddy to WTVI President/CEO Elsie Garner that explains the rationale for these recommendations. You will notice we intend to brief the Board on this matter at its May 5 meeting as part of the Manager’s Report. No Board decision on this recommendation is being requested at this time. Instead, this matter will be one of several decision points for the Board in adopting the FY2010 budget.

The County’s Agreement with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Broadcasting Authority (CMPBA) for Public Square calls for the County’s total appropriation in FY2010 to increase from $2.9 million to approximately $3.7 million. Furthermore, annual funding of Public Square is slated to increase to approximately $4.6 million by 2013.

Quite simply, it is difficult to justify these funding increases for the untested and unproven Public Square experiment at a time when we also are recommending significant cuts in numerous well-established services, resulting in job loss and potential layoffs. Also, if and when the economy improves to generate additional local revenues, I also do not foresee Public Square being a priority for restoring funding among services cut in FY2010.

We recognize the recommendations represent a significant departure from earlier decisions (the Public Square concept was endorsed by the Board in April 2008 and the Agreement approved in September 2008). However, our situation is dramatically different from even last September, and the near-term outlook remains challenging. Therefore, it makes sense to rethink previous decisions regarding Public Square.

Phasing out of Public Square would allow the CMPBA time to consider alternative funding options if it wishes to sustain Public Square without County funding, or some other business model. It also would provide the County time to determine the future disposition of County-owned assets associated with Public Square and WTVI.

For more information, Board members may contact General Manager John McGillicuddy at 704-336-2661 or via email.
 

Legislative Services Update

Assistant to the County Manager Deborah Long Goldberg has resigned her position, effective May 8, to stay at home full-time with her newborn daughter. Deborah has been with the Manager’s Office for 3 years, including serving the last 2 years as our legislative liaison and providing staff support to the Board. This position is being advertised and we hope to fill the vacancy before the end of the May. In the interim, Assistant to the County Manager Nyki Hardy will assume these duties, as she did during Deborah’s maternity leave.

We also are taking this opportunity to re-evaluate our contracted services for legislative consulting. Beginning with the new fiscal year, we will issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) for both state and federal legislative consulting services. Currently, we contract with Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge, and Rice to provide federal legislative consulting services, and with K&L Gates at the state level. We anticipate both firms will submit proposals, but we also will cast a wide net to obtain the most proposals possible from qualified consulting firms.

For more information, Board members may contact General Manager Michelle Lancaster at 704-336-2621 or via email.


Recovery Act Update

After the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) became law in February, the Manager’s Office organized a staff team to match funding opportunities with County needs. Staff members from several County departments identified ARRA grant opportunities, and submitted applications after receiving Board approval. In addition, some ARRA funding is provided based on federal formula and does not require a grant submission. Below is an update of these efforts:

Community Support Services

  • Applied for up to $500,000 from the US Department of Justice Office on Violence against Women.

LUESA

  • Preparing an application for $3 million for Torrence Creek Restoration Project.
  • Applying for up to $649,500 from Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant
  • Applied for up to $1.5 million in G.R.A.D.E. (Grants to Replace Aging Diesel Engines) funds.

Park and Recreation

  • Applied for $1 million for Park Road Park Lake Project
  • Approved by NCDOT to receive $1.25 million for the completion of Toby Creek Greenway

Sheriff’s Office

  • Receiving approximately $1 million from the U.S. Dept of Justice through Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department in formula pass-though grant funds.

Social Services

  • Receiving $3.2 million in Medicaid savings as well as Senior Nutrition and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Funds

Other Agencies
There also are additional ARRA funds coming into this community to other governmental and non-profit agencies for initiatives in which the County may be a partner:

  • City of Charlotte Economic Development - $1.6 million for Youth Employment Program
  • City of Charlotte Neighborhood Development - $1.9 million for homeless initiatives
  • City of Charlotte Engineering & Property Management - $577,000 for its participation in the Revolution Pond Project.
  • CW Williams Health Center - $226,000 to offset the cost of health care for those without health care insurance
  • CPCC - $745,957 for job training
  • Child Care Resources – Yet to be determined portion of the State’s $67.5 million from the federal government to pay for child care services
    Note: See related item below regarding ARRA funds for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

For more information, Board members may contact Assistant to the County Manager Nyki Hardy at 704-432-2171 or via email.


State Identifies $85 Million in Federal Funds for CMS

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) has released information on projected appropriation of federal stimulus funds for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS). The NCDPI projects that CMS will receive approximately $85 million for both FY2009 and FY2010. Below is the breakdown provided by NCDPI, based on the category of funding by each fiscal year.

Title 1:

  • $12.3 million in FY09
  • $24.6 million in FY10

IDEA VI-B:

  • $15.4 million in FY09
  • $30.9 million in FY10

IDEA VI-B Preschool:

  • $607,879 in FY09
  • $1.2 million in FY10

Totals:

  • $28.3 million in FY09
  • $56.7 million in FY10

Title 1 federal funding is available to provide resources that enable all students to have equal opportunity for high quality education, focusing on students from low-income families. Funding can be used to hire teachers to reduce the student-teacher ratio, providing tutoring, create school computer labs, fund parent involvement activities, purchase instructional material, hire teacher assistants and other services.

IDEA VI-B federal funding is used to provide resources for children with mental, physical or emotional disabilities. IDEA is an acronym for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

IDEA VI-B Preschool federal funding is used to provide resources for preschool children that meet criteria similar to the IDEA VI-B above.

County staff has contacted CMS staff to determine the potential impact of these funds on CMS budget needs. The CMS superintendent’s recommended budget, tentatively approved on Tuesday by the Board of Education, contains no appropriation for federal stimulus funds.

For more information, Board members may contact Management and Budget Director Hyong Yi at 704-336-6945 or via email.


Budget Workshop Schedule

At the Board’s April 28 workshop, a question was raised about the schedule for the Board’s deliberation and approval of the FY2010 budget. Below are the dates and times of scheduled meetings pertaining to the budget.

May 5:  

Budget update at regular Board Meeting (6 pm)

May 12:

Budget/Public Policy Workshop (3 pm)

May 19:

County Manager’s Recommended Budget at regular Board Meeting (6 pm)

May 26:

Budget/Public Policy Workshop (3 pm)

May 28:

Budget Public Hearing (6 pm)

June 9:  

Budget Workshop/Straw Voting (6-9 pm)

June 10:

Budget Workshop/Straw Voting (6-9 pm)

June 11:  

Budget Workshop/Straw Voting (6-9 pm)

June 16:

Budget adoption at regular Board Meeting (6 pm)

For more information, Board members may contact Management and Budget Director Hyong Yi at 704-336-6945 or via email.

 

 -- Harry L. Jones, Sr., County Manager



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