Yes, Mecklenburg County really is making budget cuts.
After county officials unveiled their recommended budget last week, a reader asked whether the county is making actual cuts to its budget. He wrote that in some years, officials and the media talk about “budget cuts” but in fact there is an increase in spending.
He pointed to the school system as a good example of this. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools often gets less from the county than it asks for but more than it received the previous year. While some officials talk about making cuts -- to the original plan -- others note that the district's budget is growing.
So, is there fuzzy math going on this year?
In short, no. Nearly all the departments and agencies the county funds are recommended to receive flat or reduced funding. The proposal calls for cutting county departments by an average of 9.6 percent, CMS by 9.8 percent and CPCC by 9.2 percent.
This chart shows you a comparison of the county's budget from the 2006-07 to the current recommendation.
One of the few exceptions: the county will spend more in its operating budget to pay off its debt for construction. That's mostly due to a change in the county's debt policy to spend part of its reserves to pay for construction projects without borrowing money. Previously, the money had been spent to pay off bonds the county had borrowed.
Think the cuts aren't enough, or go too far? A budget hearing is set for 6 p.m. Thursday. Commissioners will approve the spending plan in June.-- April Bethea