Wednesday, May 26, 2010

County chairman to the City: Help us, please!!!

What's keeping Mecklenburg County commissioners chairman Jennifer Roberts up at night? The county's budget crisis - and she's looking for help anywhere she can get it. At 1 this morning, she dashed off this missive by e-mail to city council members who might have some bucks to spare:

Dear City Colleagues

I apologize for getting this to you so late, knowing that you will be beginning your straw vote process this evening. It has been a very busy few weeks, to say the least.

However, I would like to ask that you give some consideration to supporting the County in this difficult time of crisis. As you know, we are looking at an $81 million funding gap due to declining sales tax and other revenues. This will hit our libraries, our schools, and other vital programs particularly hard. We have made a commitment, as you have, not to raise property taxes when we are still struggling with unemployment of well over 11%.

I do not know what amount you might be able to support to help become a bigger partner with our library system, for example, which bears both the city and the county’s names, but if you would like to contribute any amount whatsoever, it would be welcome. If you want instead to support teachers in our schools, and help us close the $21 million gap there, any amount there would be welcome as well. I appreciate your exploration of running the safe-light program again, which brought over $4 million to the schools in this fiscal year, an amount sorely needed. Were the City and County one consolidated government, this sharing of resources would be easier. As it is, I know this would be a highly unusual step for the City to take.

I know that the City is also facing a funding gap, and it is presumptuous of me to ask anything; but as an advisor once told me, it is amazing how much more you get when you ask than when you don’t.

As you know, we as a board have not yet begun our straw vote process, and I am not sure where my colleagues stand yet on our budget, or even on my request to you this evening. At this point I can only say I speak for myself as someone who sees great needs in our community. Your employees have worked hard and well and certainly they deserve to feel valued. I do not want to jeopardize your ability to pay them appropriately. I merely ask if there is any funding that you find that could be re-directed to essential county needs, we would welcome it.

Thanks for your consideration and good luck tonight in your deliberations.

Jennifer Watson Roberts
Chairman, Mecklenburg County
Board of Commissioners

That's a heartfelt appeal. What do you think? Should the city provide financial help to the county? If so, what would you like the money used for?

Posted by the Observer's editorial board

9 comments:

guppy said...

First, great job in not increasing the burden of property owners in this difficult economy. Second, I found this point of fact in your letter interesting...

"Were the City and County one consolidated government, this sharing of resources would be easier."

There's our solution. Isnt it past time we consolidate city and county govt? any opportunity to reduce redundancy should be pursued with vigor.

happenstance said...

<<...but as an advisor once told me, it is amazing how much more you get when you ask than when you don’t.>>

yuk. The advisor sounds like an opportunist.

You can do this, county officials. Its not easy but I know you are up to the challenge to do what has to be done and Char-mecks long-term viability requires.

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Rita said...

Congrats to our "chairs". The cities and towns meed to remember that most of us live in Charlotte AND Mecklenburg. The city got the better deal in fund raising in difficult economic times, and the county has a larger
population burden. Thanks for asking citizen opinion.

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