June 17, 2003
FY04 BUDGET CUTS TAX RATE BY 10.33 CENTS, REDUCES SERVICES AND EMPLOYEES
Charlotte, NC-The Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners approved a $1.058 billion annual budget that cuts many services and lowers the tax rate from 83.97 cents per $100 valuation to 73.64 cents per $100. At this tax rate, the owner of a home with an assessed valuation of $150,000 would pay $1,104.60 in County property taxes.
The FY2003-2004 (FY04) budget includes a tax rollback of approximately $22 million to account for the property tax revaluation as well as an additional $25 million rollback to offset the revenue expected from the half-cent sales tax that was levied in January 2003.
The Mecklenburg County budget funds programs and services that are provided directly by the County as well as those provided by outside agencies such as Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS), Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC), and numerous non-profit human services agencies. County services include parks, libraries, jails, public health, mental health, social services, environmental services, land use regulation, and more.
CMS will receive $264.9 million for current expenses, which is the same that CMS received from the County in FY03. CPCC will receive $16.3 million, $300,000 more than it received in the FY03 amended budget.
The FY03 budget includes layoffs for approximately 20 County employees from the elimination of 343 positions (121 full-time, 5 part-time; 217 temporary), reflecting a reduction in services. Most of the layoffs will be experienced in the Sheriff's Office for closing one of three work release units. Other items not funded or cut include further delays in replacing obsolete computers and vehicles, a lower subsidy to WTVI, closing the Park and Recreation Department's Greenville neighborhood pool, elimination of Park and Recreation's summer day camps and inner-city summer festivals, and many other cuts to County services and programs.
Additions to the FY04 budget include $2 million for the Criminal Justice Information System, $500,000 for the first phase in replacing the County's financial system, and $115,888 to pay part-year salaries for four assistant district attorneys, whose positions are being paid for by a federal grant scheduled for expiration in FY04. The Medical Examiner's Office also will receive an additional $207,019 for a third forensic pathologist and other operational needs. County employees will receive an average 2.7 percent pay raise, ranging from 0% - 4% depending on each employee's performance.
The total budget is $1.058 billion, a $4 million increase from the current budget (FY03 Amended Budget). This budget will require $743 million in net county revenues (local property and sales taxes, etc.), $27.5 million more than the current budget, a 3.84% increase. The remaining revenue will come from federal and state funds, fees and other sources.
The 3.84% increase is due mainly to the increase in debt service, which will increase by $14.3 million in FY04. Debt service is the interest and principal on funds borrowed to pay for new and renovated schools, parks, libraries, courts and other public facilities. Excluding debt service and Education Service, the cost for all other County Services will decrease by $2 million. The $743 million in county revenues will be allocated in three broad categories as follows:
· General Debt Service at $67.5 million- This category includes all debt service except for CMS and CPCC. (Total debt services for FY04 is projected at $168.5 million, a $14.3 million increase from FY03.) Therefore, General Debt Service for FY04 is projected at $67.5 million, an increase of $20.88 million (44.75 percent) over FY03.
· County Services at $317.2 million - all County operations excluding education and debt service for FY04 is $317.2 million, a $1.8 million decrease from the FY03 amended budget.
· Education Services at $358.3 million - This service category includes Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) and Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) debt service and operations. CMS and CPCC debt service will be $76.98 million, an increase of $8.15 million from FY03, of which nearly $7 million ($6.97 million) is for CMS debt. Approximately $67.2 million of the $76.98 million total is for CMS. CMS operations funding will remain at the FY03 level, at $265 million. CPCC will receive a $300,000 increase from FY03 to $16.3 million.
The Board also set the Law Enforcement Service District tax rate at 16.79 cents per $100 valuation, an increase of 2.29 cents. This tax rate is applicable only for properties within the unincorporated areas of the county and is added to the countywide tax rate for a total property tax rate of 90.43 cents per $100 valuation for these properties. Funds from the Law Enforcement Service District tax rate are used to pay for police services provided by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) within the unincorporated areas. The increase in the tax rate is due to fewer people in the unincorporated area paying for increased costs in the CMPD budget.
FY04 Reductions from the County Manager's Recommended Budget include:
Maintain FY03 CMS funding $5,000,000
Employee Compensation $3,701,248
Vehicle Replacement 2,229,242
Facility Maintenance/Information Technology projects 1,628,000
PC Replacement 1,641,539
Various reductions in Department of Social Services 1,171,084
Residential treatment for children 1,000,000
Reduction in Medicaid cost 1,500,000
Historic Landmarks 849,638
Work Release (Sheriff's Office) 613,382
Public Library funding 493,339
Close Greenville pool/eliminate nonspecific summer days camps 401,988
Delay software upgrades 480,000
Delay equipment and furniture replacements 700,287
Medic subsidy rebate 600,000
Eliminate economic development funding 500,000
Delay Area Mental Health Emergency Call Center 400,000
Close Gatling Juvenile Center (Sheriff's Office) 369,272
*Reduce outside agency funding 103,016
Eliminate Health Department's Project Hope program 206,381
CPCC Funding 200,000
Eliminate Summer Jazz Series (Park and Recreation) 165,676
Reduce General Services department funding 164,603
Reduce IT department funding 145,720
Eliminate inner-city summer festivals 141,658
Reduce Women's Commission funding 120,968
Reduce Human Resources funding 140,000
Reduce Register of Deeds overtime 100,000
Reduce payments for Adult Mental Health housing 65,000
Eliminate systems administrator position (Finance Department) 64,802 debt services for FY04 is projected at $168.5 million,
Eliminate Tax Collector Office positions (2) 63,684
Eliminate Park and Recreation customer service positions (2) 59,386
Eliminate GIS mapping updates and administrative position 54,025
Eliminate water bill newsletter and other communications 51,851
Eliminate auditor position (vacant) 39,910
Reduce federal legislative lobbying funding 32,858
Board Travel 6,500
*Results in $540,631 reduction for Arts & Science Council and $632,518 reduction for WTVI from FY03 budget.
Additions to the FY04 Budget include:
*Criminal Justice Information System $2,000,000
*Upgrade financial system (Finance Department) 500,000
*Forensic pathologist/other items to Medical Examiner's Office 207,019
Partial-year salaries for 4 Assistant District Attorney's 115,888
*Business incentive grant to Time-Warner Cable 90,000
Additional Tax Collectors 62,000
Enhance Matthews Help Center (DSS) 30,000
Adding 20-minute AIDS Testing (Health Department) 30,000
Mi Casa Su Casa 16,000
Room at the Inn 15,000
Latin Health Fair 12,000
Retain Office of Protocol 11,000
Historic Charlotte 6,500
*Contained in the Manager's Recommended Budget