City manager to bring budget discussion south

New Charlotte city manager Ron Carlee will speak about this year’s budget and his thoughts on the city’s future in Ballantyne on Tuesday, June 11 – a day after city council is scheduled to vote on the 2013-14 fiscal budget and five-year investment plan.

Carlee will speak at a meeting of the Ballantyne Breakfast Club – an advocacy group that seeks to inform area residents about timely city and county issues. Ray Eschert, president of the club, said residents in Ballantyne need the chance to have a voice in the city’s spending decisions regardless if the budget has been passed prior to Tuesday’s meeting.

“Certainly (area residents have) a concern … about how funding is set for Charlotte,” Eschert said in an email. “One hears over and over the complaint that some among our city’s leadership feel that this area has it all and then some. While this may be true in some respects, it should also be recognized that private investment played a very large part in how the area was developed.”

Carlee joined the city’s staff at a time when local leaders were still debating a controversial capital investment plan some in south Charlotte said would make Ballantyne taxpayers pay to revitalize the rest of the city for no benefit to themselves. Carlee inherited the plan from the city’s former manager, Curt Walton, and the spending package is set for a vote Monday night.

Carlee’s full impact on city spending likely won’t be seen until he crafts his first city budget, a process he’ll start thinking about soon. Councilman Warren Cooksey, who represents Ballantyne on Charlotte City Council, said it’s important Carlee meet with area residents to get a better idea of the “full scale and scope of his responsibilities” prior to working on next year’s budget.
Tuesday’s meeting could go a long way toward that goal.

“We need to create a dialogue between the city manager and the residents so he has a better understanding of how residents feel about the perception that the (Ballantyne) area gets passed over in the budget and city projects because of how it is perceived,” Eschert said. “… More and more residents being new to the area are showing signs of concern and wanting to be involved. While some (concerns) may be questionable – like forming a new town – it did create a heightened level of concern about being involved.”

Also expected to attend on Tuesday is Republican mayoral candidate Edwin Peacock. Though filing has not opened to fill Mayor Anthony Fo-’s seat, Peacock, a former city council member, has started campaigning for the spot.

Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Cannon, a Democrat from south Charlotte, has announced he also will run for mayor. Eschert hopes both will attend Tuesday’s meeting.

The meeting will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Fairway Ballroom of the Ballantyne Hotel, 10000 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy. Find more information at the club’s website, www.ballantynebreakfastclub.com.

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