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Budget Focuses on Investments for City's Future
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Contact: Kim McMillan, 704-336-2643
kmcmillan@charlottenc.gov


Today City Manager Curt Walton presented to the Mayor and City Council his budget recommendations for Fiscal Year 2013 and for the City’s five-year Capital Investment Plan. His proposal includes a total $1.97 billion FY2013 budget that maintains core operating needs and invests in capital projects necessary for a growing community. In 2011, Charlotte added 8,500 new jobs with almost $700 million in investments. Local building permits totaled 3,975 from January 2012 to March 2012 compared to 3,170 for the same period last year, a 25% increase. Unemployment in Charlotte also dropped from 10% in July 2011 to 8.5% in February, and despite the economic downturn, the City added over 75,000 residents between 2006 and 2011.
 
Capital Investment Plan (CIP)
A cornerstone of the proposed budget includes a $926 million capital investment plan, which would be funded by a 3.6¢ property tax increase. The goal of the plan is to ensure adequate capital investments to ensure neighborhoods and businesses have the necessary foundation to thrive and compete in a global economy. If the capital program is approved by Council, the projects would be placed on the ballot in four separate bond packages over the next seven years.
 
The capital investment plan is segmented into three areas: Investing in Corridors, Increasing Connections, and Improving Communities.
 
The Investing in Corridors package project highlights include:
·         $43 million for roadway extensions supporting economic development in the Airport/West Corridor
·         $25 million for transportation connections along the East/Southeast Corridor Infrastructure
·         $102.5 million for vehicle, pedestrian, and bicycle access improvements for the Northeast Corridor to complement the extension of light rail service to the University area
 
Increasing Connections investments include projects such as:
·         $24.9 million for City-wide sidewalks and pedestrian safety
·         $119 million for continued development of the Charlotte Streetcar from French St. near Johnson C. Smith University to Sunnyside St. past Presbyterian Hospital
·         $35 million for a 26-mile Cross-Charlotte multi-use trail
 
The Improving Communities package includes project highlights such as:
·         $56.5 million for six new police stations
·         $120 million for neighborhood improvements in the Prosperity Village, Whitehall/Ayrsley,  Sunset/Beatties Ford, West Trade/Rozzelles Ferry, and Central/Eastland/Albemarle communities  
·         $60 million for Affordable Housing
 
General Fund
On the General Fund side, the budget includes:
·         $500,000 for four crime analysts and three telecommunicators for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police
·         $1.1 million to offset increased fuel costs
·         $1.4 million increase for maintenance and repair of City vehicles and equipment
 
CATS, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utility Department and Storm Water
The budget also includes some increases in rates and charges to fund infrastructure expansions that accommodate growing service demands. The average monthly water/sewer bill will increase $3.30 going from $56.23 to $59.53, and the average monthly storm water fees will rise 42¢ from $7.06 to $7.48. The FY2013 Charlotte Area Transit System budget builds on programs of past years and is responsive to service and revenue challenges. A 25¢ base fare increase is recommended for implementation in FY2013 to support program efforts.   
 
Employee Compensation and Benefits Summary
As part of his presentation to Council, City Manager Walton also presented his compensation and benefits recommendations for City employees:
 
Compensation
·         Includes a redesign of the Public Safety Pay Plan and funding for merit steps of 2.5% or 5% for those below the maximum pay step and a 1.5% market adjustment
·         Includes funding for a 3% merit budget for the Broadbanding Pay Plan
 
Benefits
·         Modify the medical plan designs to ensure the City’s plans continue to contain costs, promote in-network utilization and remain competitive with market practices
·         Increase of 2% in City’s cost
·         Increase of 2% for medical premiums in the higher “plus” medical plan for City employees
·         No increase in medical premiums for employees choosing the base medical plan
·         Extend benefits to same sex domestic partners
·         Evaluate offering a network based dental plan with a high and low dental option
·         Amend the Shared Sick Leave policy to allow use of shared sick leave for a catastrophic Workers’ Compensation covered illness or injury
 
The Mayor and Council will discuss the City Manager’s recommendations in several work sessions over the next few weeks. Residents may speak at the public hearing on May 29. To sign up, call (704) 336-2248. The next steps in the budget process include:
 
Council Budget Adjustments               May 16, 3 p.m.
Public Hearing                                     May 29, 7 p.m.
Budget Adjustments Straw Votes       May 30, Noon
Budget Adoption                                  June 11, 7 p.m.
 
For more information, visit citybudget.charmeck.org or keep up with the latest budget developments on City Source, the City’s bi-weekly news show, which airs Thursdays at 7 p.m. on The GOV Channel Cable 16.