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Commissioners begin budget talks tonight

As Mecklenburg County commissioners begin to hammer out a final budget for next year, three topics are likely to dominate their discussion: taxes, crime and schools.

Commissioners will meet tonight for the first of three workshops planned for this week to comb through the budget plan. They'll vote on a final proposal June 17.

Some say they don't expect to make too many changes to the budget proposal pitched by County Manager Harry Jones last month.

But they say recent projections that the county could bring in an extra $3 million in new revenue next year could pave the way for certain agencies or initiatives to get more money.

Taxes

Most Mecklenburg residents wouldn't see a property tax increase under Jones' budget recommendation. The exception: Residents living in unincorporated areas could pay a few dollars more as part of a deal to continue police service.

Crime

The budget proposal would send millions more to the sheriff's office and other public safety efforts. It includes $1 million for various court-related initiatives, including new assistant district attorneys and clerks.

Last week, Jones suggested putting the $3 million in new revenue that leaders are now forecasting into a restricted fund to start implementing recommendations from a citizens' task force on crime. But commissioners don't seem likely to back that. While some of the $3 million could go toward crime, members have interest in other projects, too.

Education

Commissioners say there's a decent chance that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools could get more money in the final plan – but nowhere near the $18 million gap between what CMS requested and what's in Jones' budget.

Commissioners also will also look at increasing recommended funding e for Central Piedmont Community College.

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