The Board of County Commissioners has begun the FY2012-2013 budget season. The traditional start of the budget cycle happens at the Board's Strategic Planning Conference. That happened in February this year. The Board uses 2nd and 4th Tuesdays each month to focus on details of some of the major budget items it will be considering in the next 90 days.
On March 27, the Board held a Budget/Public Policy meeting at which time the Board heard a briefing from the Charlotte Mecklenburg School system on its process for creating and approving its operating budget. CMS indicates the biggest challenge it has is the disparate dates is has to work with to accommodate the County and the State. The State is the primary source of funding for schools. Mecklenburg County's responsibility for supplementing the CMS operating budget has grown over the years. When combined with the CMS debt which the County pays, a third of the County budget is dedicated to schools. The school system's budget is complicated by the fact that they are required to approve a budget before the State approves its budget. That means CMS doesn't know the level of funding the state will provide until after it approves its budget.
Acting school Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh has already indicated that he will be seeking at least an additional $25 million to fund cost of living increases for teachers.
During the meeting, several commissioners asked questions about when CMS knew the level of state funding last year. The State gave schools more than CMS predicted and that could have resulted in Mecklenburg County budgeting less for CMS. The announcement came a day after the BOCC approved its budget.
This year, Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools will unveil its request to the County on May 9. The County Manager reveals his recommended budget to the BOCC on May 15. The Board will aprove a budget early in June.