August 7, 2009
Impact of State Budget
As the Board heard at its meeting on Tuesday evening, the General Assembly has passed a budget for the biennium, which began on July 1. The budget was delivered to the Governor on Wednesday, who has expressed her intent to sign it into law.
I have asked our Office of Strategic Organizational Improvement (SOI) to conduct a detailed analysis of the state budget document to identify any items that may have an impact on County services or funding. However, at this time, there are several items that already present concerns to Mecklenburg County, as follows:
- Elimination of State Aid to Counties –Historically, the state has provided financial aid to counties to assist with costs of administering public assistance. This budget eliminates this funding for the next two years. We anticipate a budget impact of approximately $425,000 in the Department of Social Services (DSS).
- Reimbursement for misdemeanants - The budget eliminates the state reimbursement of $18 per day to Mecklenburg County for the housing of misdemeanants serving sentences of less than 90 days. We anticipate the elimination of this reimbursement to cost Mecklenburg County about $2 million from the Sheriff’s Office.
- LME cuts - The budget cuts funding to Area Mental Health Local Management Entities by 10% and requires them to replace this cut with existing fund balance. This will result in a reduction in State funding of approximately $2 million in Mecklenburg County’s Area Mental Health (AMH). As a single county LME, Mecklenburg’s AMH has no fund balance. Therefore, Mecklenburg County has the option of replacing state dollars with County dollars or in reducing services to match the reduced funding level.
- Child Support Enforcement - The state will shift full administrative and funding responsibility for Child Support Enforcement to Mecklenburg County, effective July 1, 2010. In the previous fiscal year, the state spent approximately $1 million in state dollars to operate this office in Mecklenburg County. We are required to provide a plan for the operation of this office by January 1, 2010.
There are other areas of the budget that mandate cuts by state agencies without specifying from where the reductions shall come. Most notably, we are concerned about a provision to reduce Medicaid Case Management by more than $40 million this fiscal year. The state Department of Health and Human Services will create a plan to realize these savings, and that plan could impact some combination of AMH, DSS and/or MCHD. As we determine steps to address these known impacts, we will provide this information to the Board. We also will continue to examine the budget document and provide the Board with additional information as it becomes available.
Mecklenburg County Technology Showcases
The Mecklenburg County Tax Assessor’s Office and its Geospatial Information Services (GIS) recently completed a major business process and technology initiative called the “Integrated Land Office”. The Integrated Land Office will allow Mecklenburg to increase revenues, provide better access to information, improve data quality, and increase staff effectiveness.
The Integrated Land Office uses technology to improve integration of land records data across multiple departments, including Land Records, GIS, Assessment, and Addressing. The initiative is part of the larger Assessment Improvement Project put in place to accelerate the real property revaluation to a two-year cycle.
Mecklenburg County, in cooperation with the technology developer, Farragut Systems, will be hosting two technology showcases to demonstrate the project, explain its affect on County business processes, and the challenges and benefits of implementation.
The first technology showcase will occur on August 27, 2009, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on South McDowell Street in Charlotte. The second showcase will take place in Durham on September 24, 2009 at the Sheraton Imperial on Emperor Boulevard. Both events will be held between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.
- Harry L. Jones, Sr., County Manager