As 2012 comes to an end, here is a look back at some of the year’s events, stories and decisions in Mecklenburg County government. Items are not ranked, and the list is not all-inclusive. However, the video, photo and article links below do help show and tell what happened this year, and some items provide a preview for what is to come in 2013.
In 2012, several County departments underwent changes in leadership. Here is a recap:
The Business of the Budget
A 2.44 cents property tax rate reduction and the lowest property tax rate for Mecklenburg residents in eight years characterize the Fiscal Year 2013 Adopted Budget. At a total of $1.43 billion, the Board of County Commissioners voted for the spending plan that supports the County’s programs and services from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013. As the County continued recovering from the effects of the Great Recession, County Manager Harry Jones characterized the budget as one that offers sustainability, affordability and, fiscal discipline. Here’s a short list of some major budget provisions:
Budget and Performance Check-ins Online
- A tax rate of 79.22 cents per $100 of property value
- A Law Enforcement Service District Tax rate of 19.37 cents which provides police service to Mecklenburg residents who do not live within the limits of a city or town
- A total of $367.2 million for education funding – excluding debt service – for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Central Piedmont Community College
- An additional $811,00 in funding for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library - allowed several branches to expand hours
Budget and Performance Dashboards
debuted in 2012 as a project of the County Manager’s Office of Management and Budget. Mecklenburg County government provides three types of interactive dashboards – Performance, Enterprise and Department – as a way to help monitor progress. Each dashboard offers an easy-to-use visualization of financial or program evaluation information
(or both) using graphs and charts.
In July, the Board of County Commissioners hired Pearson's Appraisal Services to conduct an audit of the 2011 Property Revaluation
. The outside evaluation of the revaluation showed significant flaws in the way many residential and commercial values were determined. The audit found major and minor mistakes in many of the neighborhoods it investigated. It also found that customer service at the Tax Assessor’s Office
was lacking and that communication to property owners during and after their appeals was sub-par. In November, the Board adopted an eight-point plan
to correct errors in the 2011 revaluation and to assure that the same things don’t happen during future appeals. In December, the BOCC approved a work plan for the review process.
Commissioner Neil Cooksey Passes Away; Health Department Building Will Be Named In His Honor in 2013
County Commissioner Neil Cooksey lost his battle with cancer in early October. Cooksey served nearly two full terms on the Board of County Commissioners representing District 5. He graduated from Davidson College with a political science degree and from the University of Michigan Law School. He was subsequently inducted into the Order of the Hornet, the County’s highest honor. His wife Allyson and children Charlie and Anna were on hand to accept the honor.
In November, the BOCC voted to rename the health department campus on Billingsley Road in honor of Commissioner Cooksey. Planning for a formal naming ceremony is underway.
Mecklenburg County Manager Diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer
Mecklenburg County Manager Harry Jones was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December 2011. Since then he has been sharing his story in the community. In this video
Jones speaks out to cancer survivors at the 2012 24 Hours of Booty cycling fundraiser event
Former Courthouse Building Renamed Judge Clifton E. Johnson Building
In November, the County renamed the former courthouse building at 700 E. Fourth St. as the Judge Clifton E. Johnson Building. Many of Judge Johnson’s family and friends attended the naming ceremony to honor Johnson, who died in 2009. Photos
Mecklenburg County Department Gets New Name: MeckLINK Behavioral Healthcare
Mecklenburg Area Mental Health (also known as the Mecklenburg County Local Management Entity, or LME has become MeckLINK Behavioral Healthcare
(MeckLINK). The change signals a transition from oversight of state and County-funded services to also managing a new Medicaid waiver function beginning January 1, 2013.
MeckLINK Behavioral Healthcare will continue operating the MeckLINK Call Center. People currently receiving services or seeking new services will still receive assistance by calling 704-336-6404. Including MeckLINK in the new department name is designed to make it easy for Mecklenburg County residents seeking information or referrals for mental health, intellectual or developmental disability services or substance abuse issues.
Mecklenburg Community Vision
The Board of County Commissioners adopted revisions to the Mecklenburg Community Vision and the accompanying Community & Corporate Scorecard, the County’s tool used for translating vision to action. A one-sentence description is the basis for the Vision: “Mecklenburg County will be a community of pride and choice for people to LIVE, WORK and RECREATE.” Before, the BOCC attached a year to the Vision as a way of helping gauge progress. In 2012, with its final vote to adopt the updated Community Vision, the Board agreed with the recommendation of County Management not to tie the vision to a specific year for completion.
(North Carolina Families Accessing Services through Technology), came to Mecklenburg County in October 2012 for households applying for Food and Nutrition Services only. The NC FAST Program is designed to improve the way North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) and the 100-county departments of social services conduct business. NC FAST introduces new technological tools and business processes that will enable staff to spend less time performing administrative tasks and more time assisting families.
Starting in 2013, NC FAST will add more programs which will allow customers to submit one application for various programs and services, thereby minimizing the number of persons customers will need to see to apply for benefits. In the future, the following programs are scheduled to be included in NC FAST:
- Work First (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families - TANF)
- Special Assistance and Refugee Assistance
- Child Services
Customers who wish to apply for Food and Nutrition Services can do so using ePASS, the NC DHHS online application tool. http://www.epass.nc.gov/
Park and Recreation Wins 2012 Gold Medal Award
In October, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation
was selected as the 2012 National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) Gold Medal Award winner. The Gold Medal Award honors U.S. communities that demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development and agency recognition. Applicants are separated into five classes based on population. Park and Recreation was selected the winner in the Class I category (population 250,000 and over) competing against:
- City of Henderson (NV) Parks and Recreation Department
- Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Riverdale, MD
- Plano (TX) Parks and Recreation
As part of the application process, finalists are asked to submit a 12-minute video showcasing their respective departments. Watch the Gold Medal winning Video
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hosts 2012 Democratic National Convention
In September, Mecklenburg County partnered with the City of Charlotte to assist with the 2012 Democratic National Convention. More than 30,000 delegates, dignitaries, and citizens packed uptown to attend festivities that stretched over a week. Several County departments (including staff from the Health Department, Park and Recreation, the Sheriff's Office, Code Enforcement, Public Information, and the County Manager's Office) worked closely with the city to help ensure security and to provide information to the public about services affected by the event.
New Board of County Commissioners
Board members are elected in even-number years and the new Board is historic in several ways. It is the first Board of County Commissioners to have four women, four African-Americans, and both a female chairman and co-chairman. Democrats hold a 6-3 majority compared to a 5-4 majority on the previous board. At their swearing-in Dec. 3, most acknowledged the major issues that face them including fixing the 2011 Revaluation and providing greater executive oversight of the Department of Social Services. Meet the Board
Celebrating the Completion of Urban Little Sugar Creek Greenway
In April 2012, a celebration was held observing the completion of Little Sugar Creek Greenway
. This achievement means that Mecklenburg County residents can now walk, bike or jog on a paved path from Central Piedmont Community College to the Park Road Shopping Center. Park and Recreation built more than 6,336 linear feet of paved trail along the restored stream. Graceful fountains surrounded by rounded plazas, a kiosk for refreshments and an elegant clock tower are special features of the new greenway. Park benches, an arched pedestrian bridge, and public and private art make this promenade a great place to relax, to connect with nature, or to access Center City. Photos
A New Way to Pay for Volunteer Fire Service
The Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners authorized the Fire Protection Service District Tax
which created five districts with separate tax rates to generate revenue to pay for volunteer fire services in the towns and the unincorporated areas of Mecklenburg.
These new Fire Protection Service District taxes are included in the 2013 Adopted Budget. The rates vary by district with most set at 5 cents and one at 7 cents per $100 of property value. Here are the service districts and tax rates:
- Charlotte Extra Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ) – 5 cents
- Cornelius ETJ – 5 cents
- Davidson ETJ – 5 cents
- Huntersville ETJ – 5 cents
- Mint Hill ETJ – 7 cents