Local leaders say they’re waiting to learn how Friday’s enactment of billions of dollars in federal budget cuts will affect area services.
Meanwhile, two Republican members of Congress said Friday’s budget sequester at least starts the process of needed spending cuts.
Some possible effects of the sequester already have been disclosed, including the closure of control towers at regional airports in Concord and Hickory. But officials say it could be weeks before more details are known.
In a Friday letter to employees, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools superintendent Heath Morrison said the sequester won’t affect the district this year because money has already been allocated by the federal government.
But Morrison said the district could be impacted in 2013-14, though he said the district had already been anticipating a cut in federal money before the sequester. The district could lose more than $4 million, the superintendent told reporters last week.
CMS receives the bulk of its funding from state and local tax dollars.
“We are following the developments in Washington, D.C., closely and will share information with you as we get it,” Morrison states in the “Friday Focus” message to employees.
Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx made reference to the possible CMS cuts during an interview last week on MSNBC. He also voiced concern about possible furloughs for air traffic controllers at Charlotte Douglas International Airport and the possible impact on the planned extension of the Lynx Blue Line to UNC Charlotte.
When Foxx and a Texas mayor were asked whether they’re considering tax hikes to cover any money lost from the government, the Charlotte mayor told MSNBC host Chuck Todd: “We may have to, it depends. ... Obviously we’ll have to think about it.”
Meanwhile, Mecklenburg County leaders say it’s still too early to know what impact could be felt on the services it provides.
County manager Harry Jones said leaders need to hear from the state on which of its programs will be affected by federal cuts and the impact on money given to counties to run programs.
Jones said the county’s budget staff and its legislative liaison will track the issue. “We will report this to the Board as soon as possible after receiving this information,” Jones wrote to county commissioners.
Speaking to reporters before a Republican Party dinner at Bank of America Stadium Saturday night, U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger of Charlotte said that, while the sequester wasn’t the best way to govern, it was a “baby step” toward needed, if painful, spending cuts.
“I don’t think that it’s near as hysterical as the president goes around the country talking about,” he said. “If you have a cavity you drill the cavity. You don’t give out a candy bar. And the president loves to give out candy bars.”
U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson said he’d prefer to “cut with a scalpel,” not an ax as the sequester did.
But, he added, “The only thing worse than the cuts in the sequester would be to have no cuts at all.”
Staff writer Jim Morrill contributed