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Apartment Group: Carlee's Budget Unfair To Multi-Family Homes

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Tom Bullock
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WFAE News

Monday night was an open mic night of sorts at the Charlotte City Council. It was the public’s chance to have their say on the city manager’s proposed budget. It includes an increase in property taxes and cuts to city services. 

There wasn’t a flood of angry protesters lamenting cuts to the city’s 311 service last night. In fact just eight people spoke to the council last night. The speakers broke down into one of three categories.

First up; 'The City Isn’t Giving Us Enough.'

This was the view of three of the speakers, representing Charlotte’s arts community. "I know that you’re tired of hearing from me," said Pat Riley, speaking on behalf of the Arts and Science Council. "I’m asking you, I’m begging you to grow with us. That partnership that brought us together years and years ago has splintered." The amount the city gives to the Arts and Science Council is frozen in this budget at $2,940,000. Riley was asking for $350,000 more a year for the next three years.

The second group;  'The City Is Taking To Much'

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Credit Tom Bullock / WFAE News
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WFAE News
Mike O'Hara questioned if the city had looked at all options before raising property taxes.

Rob Nanfelt spoke on behalf of real estate developers upset at the proposed large increase in fees developers would have to pay the city if the budget is adopted. "The more Charlotte discourages future development by raising fees," he warned the council, "the less competitive we become for future growth meaning fewer jobs and smaller increases in our tax base."

Charlotte resident Mike O’Hara thought the city should cut more before raising any taxes. The city manager, he said, didn’t look at all available options. "Look at health care," he said, "city premiums are $56 million. You could give every employee $5,000 to buy health care out on the federal marketplace and save the taxpayers $24 million a year."

But trash, not health insurance is the biggest focus of this proposed budget. The crux of the tax increase is based on your curbside cans. City Manager Ron Carlee is proposing the conversion of a $47 flat fee for trash pickup at single family homes to a 1.35 cent property tax increase on every $100 worth of property.

Which leads us to the final group that spoke last night:

'The Trash Talkers'

That included Shannon Binns, the director of Sustain Charlotte. Binns urged the city to adopt a pay-as-you-throw system which charges residents per bag of trash they toss out.

The other trash talker was Bryan Holladay, but trash, he said, was not his focus. "I really want to talk about Charlotte residents."

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WFAE News
Bryan Holladay with the Greater Charlotte Apartment Association.

Holladay is the Government Affairs manager for the Greater Charlotte Apartment Association. He and his group are working with some on the council in an effort to change this. Under the proposed budget, those who live in apartments, condos and anything deemed in the city to be a multi-family residence, get that property tax increase and would still pay $24 for pickup.

"So the multi-family homes would not see a reduction in those costs but would also carry the burden of the increase tax rate."

In past budget meetings, City Manager Ron Carlee has said commercial properties need to carry more of the burden since they got a tax cut when the state killed a business license tax last year.

On Wednesday, the city council will hold another budget workshop where amendments to the proposal could be brought up.