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Charlotte Budget Hearing: Just Don't Touch The Trash

Michael Tomsic

Charlotte residents had their first chance to comment Monday night on the city’s proposed budget, which includes a property tax hike. But most of the speakers focused on something that’s not in the budget.

City Manager Ron Carlee’s recommended budget would raise the property tax rate about 1 percent to pay for more police officers and firefighters. His budget would increase the water and sewer rate about 4 percent for maintenance.

At the city council meeting, no one complained about that. The bulk of speakers, including Scott Wilkerson, were against a potential backup plan:

“Either increasing trash collection fees for one or more classes of city residents,” Wilkerson said, “or through the elimination of trash collection for residents who choose to live in a multifamily rental apartment.”

City officials have floated those options, so Wilkerson and several others from the apartment point-of-view were making a sort of preemptive strike.

Mike O’Sullivan is an advocate with the Homeless Services Network.  

“Elimination of garbage collection for apartments will have a direct impact on the most vulnerable citizens of our city,” he said.

O’Sullivan pointed out there’s a shortage of affordable housing in Mecklenburg County, and even small increases add up for low-income renters.

A few speakers raised a topic that was in the budget. They were grateful for the continued funding of The Arts and Science Council, although a board member asked for $300,000 more.

The city council will start adjusting the budget Wednesday afternoon.