The City of Charlotte’s Strategic Operating Plan is a major policy document that communicates the City Council’s priorities, annual operating budget, five-year Capital Investment Plan. The Preliminary FY2014 & FY2015 operating budget and FY2014-FY2018 Capital Investment Plan are summarized below:
Recommended City Budget
Charlotte’s General Capital Investment Plan (CIP) is the most significant component of budget recommendations by City Manager Ron Carlee for the City’s FY2014 & FY2015 Operating Budget and FY2014-FY2018 Capital Investment Plan. The General CIP projects are designed to keep Charlotte growing and economically vibrant.
The City Manager’s General CIP proposal is largely the version previously considered by the Council, excluding the Streetcar Extension and UNCC Informatics projects. This revised debt-funded program of the General CIP totals $816.4 million, which would focus on infrastructure enhancements to leverage private investment for economic development, as well as improve transportation and neighborhood infrastructure. To support these proposed investments, a property tax increase of 3.17¢ is recommended for FY2014. This increase equates to a $5.28 per month increase on a home valued at $200,000.
If approved, the operating budget for next year’s General Fund would be $495 million, a 1.5% increase, which pays for core City operations like Police, Fire, Transportation, and Solid Waste. These services are primarily funded by property tax revenue; and for the first time in Charlotte’s recent history, property tax revenue is expected to decline by 1.7% due to the recent Mecklenburg County revaluation appeals study. To offset this lost revenue, the second year of the two-year budget (FY2015) recommendation proposes a revised, revenue neutral property tax increase of 0.8¢.
The recommended General CIP focuses on the following community outcomes:
- Economic development and new job growth
- Transportation infrastructure that provides greater access to job centers and mobility across the City
- Neighborhood infrastructure to create safer communities, additional housing opportunities, and stronger neighborhoods
The recommended budget includes a property tax rate increase of 3.17¢, dedicated to the debt service fund for General capital projects to support these community investments. The Streetcar Extension project will be presented separately and is not part of the proposed property tax for the debt service fund. The FY2014 recommended property tax rate is 46.87¢ per $100 valuation (for example, $5.28 per month increase on a $200,000 home). This increase funds the proposed $816.4 million General CIP over four bond referenda cycles (2014, 2016, 2018, and 2020).
Enterprise CIPs (CATS, Aviation, Storm Water, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utility) decrease an average of 15% primarily due to significant construction expenses for projects occurring in the prior five-year CIP. The FY2014-FY2018 Enterprise CIP total of $2.7 billion includes projects such as the CATS Blue Line Extension, Phase I of the International Terminal at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, continuation of Storm Water’s flood control projects, and maintenance and extension of Water and Sewer infrastructure.
The General Fund operating budget continues current service levels with a few key adjustments based on Mayor and Council feedback during the Spring Budget Workshops as well as the implementation of Council policy changes. Highlights include:
- $1.4 million to address rising fuel expenses and vehicle maintenance for Police and Fire
- $263,287 in FY2014 and $239,980 in FY2015 to implement and market the Charlotte Business INClusion Program adopted by Council in April 2013, which supports minority- and women-owned small businesses participation in contracting and subcontracting opportunities with the City
- $2 million initial payment to support a rental assistance program endowment in partnership with Foundation For The Carolinas and Mecklenburg County
The Enterprise Funds’ operating budgets increase by 3.4% in FY2014 and 2.7% in FY2015, focusing on core customer service needs. There are two Citywide fee adjustments within the Enterprise Funds – Water/Sewer and Storm Water Services. The fee adjustments fund infrastructure maintenance and expansions for the Charlotte- Mecklenburg Utility Department and reduce project backlog for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services. The average monthly water/sewer bill would increase by $2.14, increasing from $53.03 to $55.17. The average monthly storm water fees would rise by 41¢ from $7.48 to $7.89. There are no significant changes in CATS or Aviation.
Compensation and Benefits
- For public safety employees, the recommended budget provides funding for a 1% market adjustment, plus steps of 2.5% or 5% based on rank
- For broadband employees, there is a proposed merit budget of 2%
- Employee-paid medical premiums increase by 4% in the PPO Plus wellness plan and 0% in the PPO Basic wellness plan.
- The City’s overall funding for group insurance coverage increases by 3%
Remaining Budget Meeting Schedule
- May 13, 2013
- Streetcar Proposal Presentation, 5:00 p.m.
- Budget Public Hearing, 7:00 p.m.
- May 15, 2013 – Budget Adjustments Meeting, 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
- May 29, 2013 – Straw Votes, 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
- June 10, 2013 – Budget Adoption, 7:00 p.m.
Residents may speak at the public hearing on May 13. To sign up, call (704) 336-2248.
All meetings occur in the Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center, 600 E 4th Street, Charlotte, NC 28202.