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What's At Stake In Charlotte Budget Vote: Arts Money, Police Funding, City Council Raises

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WFAE/Nick de la Canal

Charlotte City Council will vote on the city's annual budget at its Monday night meeting, potentially capping off months of debate on several big-ticket items, including increased money for the arts, police funding and raises for council members.

Under the city's proposed fiscal year 2022 budget, city funding for arts and culture would increase from $3.2 million to $6 million, although the city would scale back its partnership with the Arts & Science Council and instead partner with the Foundation for the Carolinas, which would distribute the money.

The measure has stirred up concern among some local artists and creatives, who've said they were not consulted as the plan was made. The president of the Arts & Science Council, Krista Terrell, has also criticized the plan, saying she's worried about equitable distribution.

The budget also calls for increasing the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's annual budget by $10 million. That's a 3.7% increase from the year before and brings the department's total annual budget to $301 million.

Much of that increase will go toward salary increases and benefits for officers. The police department would also spend $775,000 to double the number of crisis response teams, or CRTs, from six to 12. CRTs are trained clinicians who can accompany officers on calls where someone is believed to have mental health issues.

Also included in the budget are big raises for City Council members. Including expense allowances, the proposed raises would bring total compensation to $59,868 for the mayor and $52,444 for the other council members. That's a 41.5% salary boost for the mayor and a 51% bump for council members.

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

The budget does not include any property tax hikes but would raise fees for water, stormwater services and solid waste.

The meeting starts at 5 p.m.

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Nick de la Canal is a reporter for WFAE covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal
Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.