Charlotte's Future
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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the City of Charlotte's total budget? The budget for both operating and capital totals $2.10 billion in FY2015.

What is Charlotte's total General Fund budget? The General Fund budget for the City of Charlotte is $513.3 million in FY2015. 

What is Charlotte's current tax rate? The current tax rate is 46.87 cents per $100 assessed valuation.

Balanced Scorecard? What is it? How does it relate to the budget? Can it be applied to other organizations and how? The Balanced Scorecard helps translate an organization's mission, vision and strategy into tangible objectives. It focuses on four critical success indicators: serve the customer, manage resources, run the business and develop employees. The City of Charlotte uses the Balanced Scorecard as its performance management system.

What are "financial partners?"  Who are the City's financial partners? Financial Partners  (or outside agencies) are community agencies or organizations with whom the City of Charlotte contracts to provide specific services. These partnerships extend the City's capacity to address strategic priorities and concerns of the community. These diverse partnerships include:

  • Partnerships due to special legislation, 
  • Partnerships that support City Council's five strategic focus areas,
  • Partnerships that contribute to important community activities
What is the "CIP"? The CIP or Capital Investment Plan is a 5-year financial plan which matches the City's projected financial resources dedicated to capital spending with the City's highest priority capital needs.  See Capital Budget.

Why is a CIP important?
 A CIP outlines how the City plans to replace aging infrastructure and address new infrastructure needs associated with a growing city.

  • Plan demonstrates how the City will meet current and future infrastructure needs:  A CIP outlines how the City plans to replace aging infrastructure and address new infrastructure needs associated with a growing city.
  • Strengthens Credit Rating: Rating agencies review the City’s ability to adapt to growth and to maintain its infrastructure. If it appears that a City is not keeping up with its growth, it will likely face higher, future infrastructure costs, which may impact the City’s ability to repay existing debt and obtain future debt. Currently, the City of Charlotte maintains a AAA credit rating (highest rating attainable) to secure low interest rates for the issuance of debt to fund new infrastructure.
  • Supports Neighborhoods and Businesses: Adequate infrastructure supports strong, vibrant neighborhoods and business expansion.
 A CIP outlines how the City plans to replace aging infrastructure and address new infrastructure needs associated with a growing city.

How is the CIP developed? The CIP is a separate budget from the Operating Budget, but the CIP and Operating budgets combined equal the total City budget. The CIP follows a development track that is parallel to the development of the Operating Budget. A rough outline of the development process is as follows:
  • City Council holds an annual retreat to determine priorities.
  • The City determines the status of both the Operating and Capital Budgets.
  • Departments and other agencies identify funding needs.
  • Revenue projections are finalized for future years.
  • Needs are matched with resources using City Council's Strategic Focus Areas and approved community plans as guides.
  • The Capital Budget is developed and presented to City Council over several months beginning in February with final approval in June (new fiscal year begins on July 1).
What revenue sources are used to finance CIP? General Government capital projects are funded through a variety of sources:
  • General Obligation Bonds are used to finance long-term and large capital projects.
  • For FY2015, 1.20¢ of the property tax rate is dedicated to Pay-As-You-Go capital projects. 9.67¢ of the property tax rate is dedicated to the Municipal Debt Service Fund. Capital Reserve or funding surpluses above 16% in the General Fund are transferred to the CIP.
  • One-time (non-recurring) revenues are dedicated to capital projects
  • Asset Management property sales are dedicated to capital projects
  • Grant funding (from the State and Federal governments)
  • Fund balance and revolving loan repayments
How are high priority capital needs determined? Most capital projects are based on community plans, such as the Airport Master Plan, Two-Year Water and Sewer System Evaluations, long-range Transportation Plans, District Plans and the long-range Generalized Land Use Plan. Other capital projects are on-going programs to maintain the City's infrastructure.

What are General Obligation Bonds? General Obligation (GO) Bonds are debt instruments much like a house mortgage. The City identifies a major project (e.g. a fire station) or several similar projects (e.g. seven road intersections) and determines that to complete the projects in a timely manner a debt issuance is needed. (The City does not maintain large amounts of cash to finance these larger capital projects.)

What are Enterprise Capital Programs? Enterprise capital programs are self-sustaining funds which are exclusively financed from revenues generated by the operation. For instance, the water and sewer capital program is exclusively financed by user fees. This is also the case with the Airport, Storm Water, and Charlotte Area Transit (CATS) capital programs. These enterprise operations do not receive any property tax support.

What is included in City's overhead? How does the City use the overhead allocation? The purpose of the Cost Allocation Plan is to distribute or allocate the support business units cost as general and administrative overhead to the service departments. The allocation is made in a two step process. First, the support costs are allocated to all business units--both support and service. Then, the allocations received by the support business units in the first allocation are reallocated to the service departments. The cost allocation plan provides general and administrative overhead information, which is used to calculate the fully allocated costs of City services. Primarily, the fully allocated costs are used for preparing competitive bids and benchmarking services, determining the cost of General Fund services provided to Enterprise Funds and calculating user fees and charges for services.

Where can I get a copy of City of Charlotte budget? Copies of the budget books are available for viewing in the five regional public libraries and the area University libraries. Many of our most requested publications are available through our website.

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