Debt proposal to go before commissioners

Mecklenburg County would be able to borrow more money to pay for construction projects under a proposal before commissioners on Wednesday.

The proposed changes have been on the table since earlier this year and include allowing a larger portion of the county's operational budget to be spent on debt payments. Another change would increase the debt per capita ratio, or the amount of money spent per person on construction projects across the county.

Discussions on the changes have largely split along party lines. Republican commissioners have said the county needs to rein in its construction spending, and that raising the targets doesn't make sense. Democrats, however, have said raising the targets doesn't guarantee the county will spend up to the new limits, but makes it more possible to pay for projects aimed at addressing growth in Mecklenburg.

The revisions are being considered partly because the county has been out of compliance with parts of its current debt policy in recent years, and its debt load is much higher than those of other similarly-ranked counties.

For example, at the end of June, the county owed $3,641 per person, exceeding the current target of $3,600. The figure includes borrowing for county projects, as well as those for the city of Charlotte and six Mecklenburg towns.

Under the plan, the debt per capita target would rise to $4,200.