Ballantyne gets to discuss its priorities

If Ballantyne residents have gripes about something happening in Charlotte, odds are they’ll find someone they can talk to about it at this weekend’s Priorities 2013 meeting.

The meeting, hosted by the Ballantyne Breakfast Club advocacy group and the Ballantyne chapter of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, gives local residents a chance to meet with city, county and state leaders as well as department heads of groups such as the Charlotte Area Transit System and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. The idea is to put as many area leaders in the room as possible and give residents access to them in a manner they couldn’t typically get.

“The public has questions about a wide range of issues and the priorities that have been set,” Ray Eschert, president of the Ballantyne Breakfast Club, said in an email. “This is an opportunity for the public to meet one on one with their representatives and public leaders to learn more about those issues and priorities and to share their input.”

Eschert said Mayor Anthony Foxx is expected to be on hand for the earlier part of the event, Saturday, Feb. 23, starting at 9 a.m. Gov. Pat McCrory, the former mayor of Charlotte, will send a representative to the meeting. The two are key voices in the city’s fight over a proposed streetcar extension in Charlotte that Foxx wants and state leaders recently said could cost the city some light rail funding. As many as five Charlotte City Council members also could be at the meeting at a time when the council is arguing over funding hundreds of millions of dollars worth of local projects, including $119 million for the streetcar, in addition to next year’s budget.

N.C. Rep. Bill Brawley is expected to be in attendance, coming shortly after the announcement that the Charlotte Douglas International Airport could switch from city control to that of a state-run group. Heath Morrison, now in his second semester as superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, will appear again at a Ballantyne Breakfast Club event. Last time, Morrison faced questions about what changes he would make to the district, and this weekend will have a
chance to discuss how those changes are coming.

“You’ve seen them on television and read about them in the newspapers; now at the Priorities 2013 meeting you can engage them in person to discuss the issues and how the priorities have been established,” Eschert said. “We are entering 2013 with an exceptional number of complex issues, many of which have the potential of reaching even deeper into our pockets. We deserve a better accounting of these issues.”

There will be coffee and refreshments at 8:30 a.m., with the event starting at 9 a.m. Officials will be split into different rooms  and residents will be able to go from official to official to ask about various topics. The event is at the Lodge at Ballantyne, 10000 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy. Find more information on the advocacy group’s website, www.ballantynebreakfastclub.com.

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