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Mecklenburg County Manager Proposes Steady Property Tax Rate

Michael Tomsic

Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio recommends that the county’s property tax rate stays the same next year. Diorio released her recommended budget Thursday. Unlike the city of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County is not dealing with a significant budget hole.

Diorio is recommending a roughly $1.6 billion budget that would increase funding for education and reading initiatives, as well as boost staffing for child protective services and veteran services.

“My recommended budget addresses many unmet needs for services to children, families and veterans,” she says. “It allows us to continue serving the needs of county residents while being good stewards of taxpayer resources.”

The property tax rate doesn’t change. That’s in contrast to what city leaders are debating because of lost revenue from a repealed business tax and property revaluations.

The business tax change didn’t impact the county, and Diorio says increasing sales tax revenue helped the county absorb the property revaluations.

She does recommend a 9 percent tax increase related to law enforcement services for the small percentage of people who live in unincorporated areas. Budget director Michael Bryant explained why.  

“The population in the unincorporated areas has been increasing at a faster pace than the rest of the county,” Bryant says, “resulting in higher costs to provide law enforcement services.”

The increase would impact about 55,000 people, and it would show up on their county property tax bill.

On education, Diorio recommends an increase of about $14 million for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, far short of the roughly $40 million CMS leaders had asked for. They wanted to give their employees a 2 percent raise.  

After the meeting, Diorio said that’s not the county’s responsibility.

“My position has been that we're not going to fund increases for state employees, which is why we didn't fund that,” she said.

The chairman of the county commission, Trevor Fuller, offered cautious praise for the recommendations. But he hasn’t made up his mind on CMS funding.

“It's not unusual that the county manager recommends an increase that's less than what CMS asks for,” Fuller says. “We'll have to have a discussion about whether that's the right approach, whether that's the right amount, and we’ll be having those discussions fairly soon.”

County commissioners will hold a public hearing on the budget on June 10.