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Cogdell Pushes Fiscal Realism For CMS

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Is Commissioners Chairman Harold Cogdell the first Democrat with any sense of the whole community? Is he the first Democrat with financial acumen? I believe so. All one need do is read his letter to Board of Education Chairman Ericka Ellis-Stewart, to understand his concern for the entire community. Cogdell has the temerity to assert that the county can’t afford to give Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools an additional $30 million, ostensibly to help fund pay increases for teachers.

Cogdell is the type of representative the majority of voters in Mecklenburg County should support, at least in this instance. He points out the situation that the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners faces with budgets and the continual requests that CMS makes. Even though commissioners have continually given too much to CMS the effect has historically been without results, as Cogdell notes. The ‘without results’ is critical.

For decades CMS has asked for more money from the county, and it has been forthcoming with few restrictions. And while the promises of improvements to be made with the money have never been kept, the taxpayers keep their end of the bargain, like it or not. As a direct result, the debt service county taxpayers struggle under is real and is in large part due to CMS and its unwarranted building program.

Also, a large portion of the county operational money goes directly to CMS. Indeed, for decades the taxpayers of Mecklenburg County have supplemented the state appropriation to the county school system so consistently, that the supplement has become expected, even demanded. Hence the request from CMS for even more money, and Cogdell’s appropriate response.

Actually, the state makes appropriations to every school system in North Carolina, which is large enough that districts may run their entire school system on it if they wish. Mecklenburg County, being free with their taxpayers’ money, has given the school system a supplement that has grown to almost half as much again as the state appropriation.

This is actually an incredible amount of excess, an incredible amount of discretionary funding, and CMS asks for more. CMS wants the local taxpayers to fund an additional $30 million to help give the teachers raises – because they haven’t had raises in a while. CMS has become so accustomed to getting anything it wants from the taxpayers of Mecklenburg, they ask for more. If it were up to CMS, Mecklenburg would give them more than the district gets from the state.

This is the problem the taxpayers have with government. Government employees have relatively secure positions. They have a great, taxpayer-funded retirement. They usually don’t have or allow competition for their services. Their pay is taken by force from the taxpayers. If they want more, they say they haven’t had a raise – as if we’re supposed to feel sorry for them, as if they’re supposed to automatically get raises even when those in the private sector, the people paying their salary, don’t have jobs.

A lot of taxpayers haven’t had a raise either. So why should the taxpayers have to give government employees raises? What is the point of that?

The point is government has grown into a behemoth of monstrous proportions, which thinks it deserves anything it can force the rest of us to pay for.

Wrong.

Up pops the unexpected Mr. Harold Cogdell. If the fiscal conservatives can have a majority on the County Commission, no matter their party affiliation, then the taxpayers have a chance. But tax-and-spend commissioners like Vilma Leake, George Dunlap, and even Dumont Clarke, will oppose any Democrat who doesn’t seek more money for the government employees. Why? Because they, the Democrats, believe a government paycheck is how they buy their votes.

If Cogdell tries to slow down this vote-buying machine, if he actually takes his job as a representative of the people seriously, then he will find many in his own party turn against him. I wish him well. He is doing what we hope all elected people will do; he is trying to represent all the people.

What we will see, in turn, is that the party who likes to portray itself as caring about the people, the working class, actually only cares about those they can pay off, using other people’s money to further their own self-interests and political clout.

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