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Buried In Budget: Big Raises For Charlotte Mayor And Council

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David Boraks
From left, Mayor Vi Lyles, Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt and council member Braxton Winston during a 2019 council meeting.

Updated Wednesday, 7:18 p.m.

Charlotte's proposed city budget would mean big pay raises for both the mayor and City Council members beginning July 1 — raises they will vote on themselves.

Although the raises are mentioned in City Manager Marcus Jones's introductory note at the start of the 422-page budget document released Monday, the size of the increases is not disclosed until page 385. Jones did not highlight the numbers in his budget presentation, either to the council or reporters. It was first reported by The Charlotte Observer.

The budget calls for Mayor Vi Lyles' salary to rise 41.5%, to just over $39,600.

Council members would get a 51% bump, to about $32,600.

Both also would get increases in allowances for cars, technology and other expenses, bringing total compensation packages to nearly $60,000 for the mayor and more than $52,000 for council members.

Jones said in his budget message to the council that the raises bring members in line with compensation for Mecklenburg County commissioners.

He said it also follows recommendations of staff and an advisory group called the Citizens Advisory Committee on Governance. Appointed by Lyles and Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt, the group was assigned to review the current structure of the City Council. In a final report in November, the committee said it looked at how Charlotte compares to peer cities in North Carolina and around the country.

The committee looked at cities with a council-manager structure like Charlotte's. It found that mayors' total compensation averages $78,717, while city council members' total was $48,337.

Including expense allowances, the proposed raises would bring total compensation to $59,868 for the mayor and $52,444 the council members.

Mecklenburg County currently pays its board chair $56,431 in combined salary and expenses. Other commissioners get $48,563.

The council is expected to hold a public hearing on the budget May 10 and vote on the plan June 14.

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City of Charlotte Proposed FY 22 Budget
City Manager Marcus Jones's Fiscal 2022 budget includes proposed raises for the mayor and city council.

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Corrected: May 5, 2021 at 7:22 PM EDT
This story was updated to clarify that raises for Charlotte's mayor and City Council members was first mentioned in the budget's introductory summary note, but the size of the raises was not disclosed until page 385 of the 422-page document.
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.