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Mecklenburg County postpones part of its property tax increase

Republican lawmakers and the state's Building Code Council are in disagreement over a proposal to update state energy efficiency standards for new home construction.
David Boraks
/
WFAE
For the median homeowner in Mecklenburg County, the tax increase cost will be about $40 a year instead of the $57 increase with the 1.5 cent rate that County Manager Dena Diorio had proposed.

Mecklenburg County commissioners voted Thursday to postpone part of a planned property tax hike. Instead of rising by 1.5 cents, the property tax rate will go up one cent in the fiscal year that starts in July.

To make up the difference — about $15 million — the county will pull more from its reserve fund. Commissioner Susan Rodriguez-McDowell said she pushed for the change, "On behalf of our paycheck-to-paycheck residents, our fixed-income residents, our retirees."

For the median homeowner in Mecklenburg County, that means the cost of the tax increase will be about $40 a year instead of the $57 increase with the 1.5 cent rate that County Manager Dena Diorio had proposed. Diorio warned that the county will either have to raise taxes more next year or make cuts to balance it out.

"It's not a responsible way to budget, to use non-recurring revenue to balance your operating budget because it's not recurring. And so eventually you're going to have, you know, a large budget deficit," she said.

The change passed 7-2, with county commissioners Leigh Altman and Vilma Leake voting no. Altman compared the move to "robbing Peter to pay Paul."

Rodriguez-McDowell acknowledged that future tax increases might be needed next year to make up for the gap, but she said that would at least spread the pain over two years instead of one.

Most of the county's higher property taxes next year will go to pay for schools, overall expense increases and staff salary hikes.

Final budget approval is expected next month.

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Ely Portillo has worked as a journalist in Charlotte for over a decade. Before joining WFAE, he worked at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute and the Charlotte Observer.