Wednesday, March 31, 2010

'The new normal'

Posted By on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 1:46 PM

First of all, I hate that our country's new mantra is "The new normal." How self-defeating.

But it's probably not too far from the truth. Counties and citizens alike have lived beyond their means for far too long. Instead of saving, we run up our credit cards. Or, at least we did before it all finally caught up with us.

So why didn't we see this coming?

Mecklenburg residents should brace for major cuts in county services and a dramatically leaner school system – possibly for years to come.

That was the assessment delivered Tuesday when County Manager Harry Jones and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Peter Gorman spoke jointly to a group of about 50 residents in west Charlotte.

Addressing the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Forum, Jones and Gorman minced no words in describing the pain county residents and employees will fell.

With tax revenue down in nearly every category, Jones and Gorman said layoffs and cutback are unavoidable.

“We believe that we have a new economic reality that we’re dealing with,” said Gorman, who has proposed cutting up to $80 million from the CMS budget year that begins in July. That would include laying off about 600 teachers.

“Last year we told folks we’re going to do more with less,” he said. “This year I think we need to be upfront and tell folks we’re going to do less with less next year.”

Jones was equally bleak in his assessment, saying the county’s revenue picture is the worst he has experienced. Of all the major categories of county income, he said, only property taxes showed a slight increase.

Jones has asked county departments and agencies to come up with $95 million in cuts for 2010-11.

Read the rest of this story at

How did we get into this? Mecklenburg County's Budget Director, Hyong Yi, explains:

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