Shields presented the FY14 Recommended Budget to the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) at its meeting Tuesday night.
"The Recommended FY14 Budget is constructed primarily to sustain the services funded in the current year’s budget adopted by the Board last June, and to address the growth in demand for these services," said Shields in his prepared remarks to the Board. The funding will address the growth in CMS student population, opening of new parks, annualized cost for library operating hours, and merit increases for employees, he said, while maintaining the fiscal discipline set by the Board in FY2013.
“Everyone in this community has a large stake in County staff being successful and productive in their jobs,” Shields said. “We cannot achieve the Board’s goals for our community without high-performing employees. We need to invest in them and have good and proper leadership that supports and encourages them to do their best and be their best.”
The recommended budget for FY14 is 17.2 percent more than the current year’s adopted budget, an increase of $247 million. This 17.2 percent increase is primarily the result of increases in Medicaid funds associated with MeckLINK. The total increase in County funding is 2.1 percent. Sustaining current County services will require a 2.5 cent property tax increase. A 2.5 cent tax increase would result in a property tax bill $50 higher for a $200,000 home.
“We cannot maintain the current property tax rate and maintain current services or address growth needs,” Shields noted. “This choice is made clearer by the decrease in assessed value of property from the FY13 adopted budget to the FY14 recommended budget.”
The needs of the community continue to grow, Shields stressed, and costs associated with meeting those needs will only continue to increase.
“To address the community’s needs efficiently, we must continue to change, either because changes are mandated by the State, or because they make the best business sense,” Shields added. He also advocated developing better relationships among County decision-makers, towns, and staff to further increase efficiency and effectiveness.
“We need a consistent message throughout this community about the purpose, direction and strategies of the County,” he said. “The Board of County Commissioners is a vital part of this message because our direction is shaped by the public policy votes and approval of the Board.”
The BOCC will decide the tax rate and vote to adopt a budget for the County at its June 18, 2013 meeting. The Fiscal Year 2013-2014 budget will cover July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014.
The total dollar amount of the FY2014 Recommended Budget is $1,679,737,085 and includes:
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS)
The Recommended Budget includes CMS operating funding of $361.4 million, an increase of
$21.3 million (or 6.3 percent) not including debt service costs associated with CMS. This increase funds items requested by CMS that are defined as sustaining operations and student growth.
Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC)
The Recommended Budget includes CPCC funding of $30.1 million, which is an increase of $3 million (or 11.2 percent). This increase funds items requested by CPCC that are consistent with what the County defines as sustaining operations, primarily maintenance, utility, and security costs.
The Recommended Budget includes County services funding of $429.2 million, which is a net increase of $8.7 million (or 2 percent) after County staff identified $21.7 million in efficiencies and redirection of current year funds. This increase pays for several planned investments including the County Assessor’s Office, homelessness services, school health nurses, opening and operating new parks, technology licenses and additional elections.
Investing in Employees
The FY2014 Recommended Budget includes a 2 percent increase in the current payroll ($4.8 million) to pay for employee raises based on performance, $2.3 million for health and dental claims increases, $1.5 million for adjustments in pay for positions falling below the market rate for these jobs, and $1.0 million to pay the annualized cost of salaries for new hires and those that received a pay raise during the current fiscal year.
Law Enforcement Service District & Fire Protection Service District
Mecklenburg County uses the Law Enforcement Service District (LESD) to fund law enforcement services to the unincorporated areas of the County. An inter-local agreement between the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County determines the County responsibility toward the total Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) budget, based on the percentage of population in unincorporated areas relative to the total population of CMPD’s service area.
For FY2014, the tax rate will be 19.37 cents, which is the same tax rate as in FY2013. In addition, $1 million from the LESD fund balance will be applied to FY14 costs and $680,000 in Lake Patrol will be paid for from the general fund.
Consistent with FY13, the tax rates for the Fire Protection Service Districts are recommended to stay at five cents for the extra-territorial jurisdictions of Cornelius, Davidson and Huntersville. Mint Hill will have a 7cent tax levy as in FY13. Charlotte will have a 1cent increase to its rate raising it to 6 cents.