From Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory:
Charlotte was one of the last metro areas in the nation to feel the impact of the current recession due in part to our diverse job base and positive business climate. However, we are now incurring job losses, store closings, declining home sales and sharp reductions in family savings accounts. Further, state, county and city governments are seeing decreased revenue while some service requests continue to increase. My goal now is to ensure Charlotte will be one of the first metro areas to climb out of our nation's economic downturn.
To accomplish this goal, city government, like those in the private sector, must quickly adapt to the changing economy while also playing a positive role in improving the economic health of our city. Unfortunately, all of us must incur some short-term pain while strategically implementing measures that will make us stronger and more economically secure and viable in the future.
As mayor, I am recommending that city government focus on three basic themes as we develop our budget for the next two fiscal years:
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Finish what we have started: Prior to starting any new projects, we must put our total effort into finishing projects already in the planning or construction phase – on time and on budget. These include existing road projects, water and sewer plant upgrades, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, and the extension of the Lynx Blue Line. In the meantime, we may have to delay costly new bonds that add to our spending and could lead to a tax increase.
Conservation and efficiency: Reduce city expenditures by streamlining services that are underutilized and hold the line on salary and benefit increases, while continuing the hiring and travel freeze.
Job creation: Reduce government taxes and regulations to encourage business investment and help homeowners.
I believe the main path to getting our economy back on track is to support the creation and growth of jobs in the private sector. My number one priority is to recruit and retain businesses for Charlotte. I will also work to ensure that Charlotte receives its fair share of revenue from state government and the federal stimulus package to help build and repair roads, bridges and transit.
We must invest in infrastructure projects that benefit the next generation, as they are the ones who will be paying for any stimulus plan. I do not support federal stimulus money for typical pork barrel projects or to bail out state and local governments, as some have requested. It is up to governors and mayors to provide the leadership to live within our fiscal means.
Charlotte has always been known as a city with a high quality of life and a skilled work force. We will have to rely on our strengths and a heavier dose of fiscal restraint to get us through these hard times. We were one of the last cities to feel the effects of the recession and I am convinced that we will be one of the first cities to come out of the recession by continuing to make Charlotte the most desirable place to run a business, raise a family and retire.