July 23, 2010
Visioning and Long-Term Fiscal Strategy
In presenting the recommended budget for FY2011, I asked the Board to consider convening a retreat in August to reflect on our long-term vision. At that time, I explained that we can’t and shouldn’t assume that the long-term destination we envisioned back in 2000 is still valid. Given all the change we have experienced and will continue to experience as a community and as an organization – given the new reality we face – it is important that we either renew or revise our 2015 vision and Scorecard goals.
Subsequently, in a separate agenda item, the Board approved scheduling a local Board retreat in late summer or early fall to discuss and consider a new long-term fiscal strategy (i.e., changes in the current model of budget adoption, capital planning and debt servicing). Although such a retreat could include several discussion points, I will urge the Board to begin by focusing on my recommendation to establish a capital & debt fund.
Board members will recall the following three components of our strategic path in managing change and renewal:
- Reducing programs, services and personnel to match available funding
- Maintaining long-term fiscal discipline
- Redesigning and reshaping Mecklenburg County government.
We are hopeful that item number 1 above was addressed by reductions made in the FY2011 budget (combined with reductions enacted for FY2010). The starting point for item number 3 is renewing or revising our 2015 vision and Scorecard goals, as mentioned above (along with other management initiatives – see related Board Bulletin item below).
The starting point for the second component of our strategic path is establishing a Capital & Debt Fund that is supported by dedicated property tax and/or sales revenue. As previously outlined, this would include developing a plan to grow the revenue source over time to the equivalent of a specific amount of the property tax rate. The long-term goal would be to build this fund to the point where the Board would limit the issuance of debt consistent with what can be supported by this Fund. Also, funds used for this Capital & Debt account would be segregated from the operating budget. We also would continue our current Paygo policy and strategy to avoid debt service costs altogether when possible.
Because this concept will have a significant influence on any future funding choices (capital or operating), it should be the first aspect addressed in considering a new long-term fiscal strategy.
County staff has been working on a schedule and process the visioning exercise and for the retreat to discuss a long-term fiscal strategy. The proposed schedule and processes will be presented to the Board at its August 3 meeting as part of the Manager’s Report.
It is important to note that although these activities are related, they are distinctly separate. Therefore, they will have separate agendas and different meeting dates/times. These activities, including the retreat, are different than the Board’s annual strategic planning conference. As a result, the agendas will be tailored specifically for these purposes, rather than using the agenda format for the planning retreats. Therefore, Board members will not be asked for or expected to include topics for these meetings.
Any requests we have received from Board members to place items on these agendas will be fulfilled in an alternative manner as appropriate (e.g., placing the item on a regular Board meeting agenda, holding for the Board’s annual planning retreat, etc.).
As mentioned above, the Board will receive more details on the proposed schedule and agendas for these retreats at its August 3 meeting.
Board members with questions should contact General Manager John McGillicuddy at email or 704-336-2661.
Major Initiatives Filling Work Plan
As part of the process in adopting the FY2011 budget, we often spoke about doing less with less. This was meant to prepare Mecklenburg residents for the strong probability that having significantly fewer resources would result in reduced service levels. Despite this reality of significant reductions in several services (e.g., park and recreation, library, etc.), there remains a bevy of major initiatives that are making the County’s overall work plan very ambitious. Below is a sampling of some of these major initiatives:
- Long-Term Fiscal Strategy Retreat
- Capital & Debt Service Fund
- Human Services Strategic Planning
- Data Warehouse Pilot
- Area Mental Health Medicaid Waiver
- Mental Health Analysis with Carolinas Healthcare System
- Food Desert Assessment/Strategy
- Law Enforcement Service District Analysis
- Homeless Resource Center
- MEDIC Operational Model Changes
- Assessment of Pretrial Excluded Offenses
- Library Task Force
- County/Library Consolidation
- Financial Services Management Plan Implementation
- Citizen Involvement Strategies Implementation
- Reshaping/Restructuring Business Imperative Services
- Reshaping/Restructuring Consolidated Human Services Agency
- City/County Functional Consolidation
- County/CMS Consolidation Review
- Employee Recognition (Employee Morale)
- Board Agenda Process Revision
- Ethics Policy Revision
- Expanding/Enhancing Internal Audit Capacity and Services
- Consolidated Charitable Giving Campaign Implementation
- Capital Investment Assessment
- Joint Capital Master Planning
This is not a comprehensive list and does not include the many service-level initiatives being implemented by staff ranging from department directors to front-line personnel.
Although we do not yet have schedules and deadlines for all these items, the amount and magnitude of these initiatives reveals why we have adopted a multi-year approach to our change and renewal efforts. Success will be determined by effective planning, considerable effort, as well as patience and a heavy dose of prioritizing.
Catalyst Fund Grant Approved for Library Task Force
The Public Library will receive a $75,000 grant from the Foundation for the Carolinas to fund a citizen task force on the future of the library system. Board members will recall that such a task force was proposed as part of the Board’s contingency for library funding within the FY2011 budget.
The grant will be used to defray expenses of the Task Force, including the costs of research and contracting with consultants for facilitation and/or project management services beyond what is to be provided through the staffs of the Library and County, or donated to the Task Force.
As referenced in a previous Board Bulletin, the Library asked former UNC Charlotte Chancellor Jim Woodward to serve as Task Force Chair, which he has accepted.
Board members will receive additional information about Task Force process and timetable at its August 3, 2010 meeting.
- Harry Jones, County Manager
During the months of July and August, the Board of County Commissioners will follow a modified summer schedule, meeting once a month. The next BOCC meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, August 3. Notice regarding Board Committee meetings will be sent in advance of meeting(s) if scheduled.