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Phew! Charlotte Council To Adopt Capital Plan, Budget

Julie Rose

Charlotte's $2 billion budget for the coming year will likely be adopted Monday night, including an increase in the property tax rate of about three cents.

After tonight's meeting, city council members will exhale a huge sigh of relief. They've spent the last year sniping, stonewalling and stalling over a plan to raise taxes for capital improvement projects. 

But now, they're set to easily pass an $800-million package paid for with a 3.17 cent property tax hike.  The difference a year makes is quite simple, says Councilman Michael Barnes.

"I think the major issue was getting the streetcar on a different track – literally – and it looks like that has been resolved by the folks who wanted it," says Barnes. "Hopefully we can move forward with our operating and capital budgets on Monday night."

Barnes led a group of council members who objected to the streetcar being funded by property taxes and passed a package last year that did not include the transit project. But Mayor Anthony Foxx vetoed the plan.

This time around, the city is chasing a federal grant for the streetcar and scrounging spare cash from elsewhere in the budget to make up the difference.  The capital improvement plan they are set to pass tonight includes virtually everything else that was in last year's plan: renovations to Bojangles Arena, street improvements along the Blue Line Extension, new police stations, and a host of roads and sidewalks.

The tax increase would take effect next month, but the bond package won't get voter approval until next year.

Council members will also approve a basic city budget that maintains current services and gives employees a 2 percent raise.

Water, sewer and stormwater rates will go up in July.