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Charlotte City Manager presents budget recommendations to Mayor, Council

​FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, May 6, 2013

Contact: Keith Richardson, Corporate Communications & Marketing
704-336-5865 (o), 704-408-5335 (m), kmrichardson@charlottenc.gov

Charlotte’s General Capital Investment Plan (CIP) is the most significant component of budget recommendations by City Manager Ron Carlee during his presentation of 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 UNC Charlotte 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¢ was 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 proposed Enterprise Funds (Utility, Storm Water, Airport, CATS) operating budgets for next year are $395 million, a 3.4% increase, which continues existing services with targeted adjustments to support delivery of services.
 

General Fund Operating
The General Fund 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 FY14 and $239,980 in FY15 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
  • Adjustments to employee compensation and benefits
    • For public safety employees, funding for a 1% market adjustment, plus steps of 2.5% to 5%
    • For broadband employees, funding for a merit pool of  2%
    • Increase the City’s funding for group insurance coverage by 3%.
    • Increase employee-paid medical premiums by 4% in the PPO Plus wellness plan and 0% in the PPO Basic wellness plan. 
Enterprise Funds Operating
  • Water/Sewer and Storm Water Fee Adjustments:
    • The recommended operating budget also includes increases in rates to fund infrastructure expansions and reduce project backlog for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utility Department and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services. The average monthly water/sewer bill will increase by $2.14, increasing from $53.03 to $55.17.  The average monthly storm water fees will rise by 41¢ from $7.48 to $7.89. 
    • There are no significant rate changes in Charlotte Area Transit System or Aviation.
General Capital Investment Plan (CIP)
The General CIP is a five-year infrastructure plan that matches the City’s highest priority capital needs with a financing schedule. The plan includes investments in neighborhoods, housing, roads, and government facilities.  The following projects are some of those included in the total $816.4 million General CIP proposal supported by a 3.17 ¢ property tax rate increase and four bond referenda (2014, 2016, 2018, and 2020):
 
Investing in Corridors
  • $106.6 million in Northeast Corridor for pedestrian, bicyclist, and motorist access improvements to the CATS Blue Line Extension
  • $47.6 million for new street connections, streetscapes, sidewalks and bikeways in the East/Southeast Corridor along Independence Blvd and Monroe Road
  • $44.7 million for Airport/West Corridor road improvements (new Garrison Road and widen Dixie River Road)
  • $30.5 million for two bridges over I-85 in Northeast Corridor to connect Research Drive to J.W. Clay Blvd and IBM Drive to Ikea Blvd/University Pointe Blvd.

Increasing Connections

  • $60.0 million for Sidewalks and Pedestrian Safety Infrastructure
  • $48.0 million for traffic control system improvements and bridge replacements
  • $35.0 million for a 26-Mile Multi-Use Trail
  • $25.6 million for road and infrastructure improvements on Prosperity Church Road, Eastern Circumferential, and Park South Drive Extension
Improving Communities
  • $68 million for a new Joint Communication Center for 311 and 911 
  • $60.9 million for six new police stations
  • $60 million for affordable housing
  • $120 million for neighborhood improvements in the following areas:
    • West Trade/Rozelles Ferry
    • Prosperity Village
    • Central/Eastland/Albermarle
    • Whitehall/Arsley
    • Sunset/Beatties Ford
Enterprise Capital Investment Plans
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 Mayor and Council will discuss the City Manager’s recommendations in work sessions over the next few weeks. If you want to voice your opinion, you can speak at the public hearing on Monday, May 13. To sign up, call 704-336-2248. Council is expected to adopt the budget on Monday, June 10.  Additional details on the budget recommendations are available at http://citybudget.charmeck.org.