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Charlotte City Manager Proposes Budget With No Tax Hike, Higher Starting Salaries

031221 CLT Skyline.JPG
David Boraks
The city manager's budget includes $14 million for housing and economic development along the city's Corridors of Opportunity, including North Graham Street.

The city of Charlotte's lowest-paid employees would get raises of 14.5% starting July 1, under the city manager's proposed budget delivered to the city council Monday night. The budget also includes a 3% salary increase for most other employees.

City Manager Marcus Jones wants to raise the city's minimum salary to $38,090 a year, or 60% of Charlotte's median household income.

"We believe that no employee that works full time for the city of Charlotte should make less than that," Jones told reporters at a briefing on the budget Monday afternoon, adding that he felt people who wanted to work for the city should be able to live in the city.

The 14.5% raise would be on top of the current $33,280-a-year minimum. It would affect 143 workers — mainly people like street crew members, water service technicians and sanitation workers, he said.

The $750.7 million general fund budget is 4.4% more than last year, and it comes without a property tax increase. And unlike this year, the budget is balanced without using federal COVID-19 relief funds.

Besides salary increases, the budget also comes with:

  • A 5% reduction in health care premiums for city employees.
  • More money for the arts — $4 million from the city plus $2 million from federal pandemic relief.
  • Money to start construction on the final two segments of the Cross Charlotte Trail in northeast Charlotte. Jones said the trail would be finished within five years.
  • $14 million for housing, neighborhood stabilization and economic development efforts in the city's six Corridors of Opportunity - neighborhoods targeted for need of new public investment. They include Beatties Ford Road, West Boulevard, I-85/Sugar Creek Road, Central Avenue/Albemarle Road, North Tryon/North Graham streets and Freedom Drive/Wilkinson Boulevard.
  • Money to work toward the goals of the council's Strategic Energy Action Plan: $1 million for 22 electric vehicles across departments and $4.75 million for sustainable infrastructure projects on city buildings.

Jones also said the city will ask voters to approve another $50 million affordable housing bond issue next Election Day.

While there's no tax increase, some city fees would rise. Solid waste fees will go up 61 cents a month, or $7.36 a year. Water fees will go up 3.4%, or $2.33 a month for a typical user. And stormwater fees also will rise 3.4%, or 29 cents a month for a typical user.

Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt thanked Jones for the work.

"There's a lot in here that fulfills promises to the community, like the Cross Charlotte Trail — promises and concerns of the community. More money for sidewalks, money for Vision Zero, and for addressing high congestion traffic areas, and so on," Eiselt said.

Vision Zero is the city's program to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled May 10. The council is expected to adopt a final budget June 14.

See the manager's budget presentation and the full proposed budget on the city budget website.

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David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.