City council's emergency budget meeting ends without new plan

by: Jason Stoogenke Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Charlotte city leaders held an emergency budget meeting Thursday that lasted more than two hours, but could not agree on a budget as time runs out on approving a budget for the next fiscal year.

If they cannot agree on a budget in the next two weeks, they will need to settle on a temporary budget or city government shuts down on July 1.

City manager Curt Walton is working on that back-up plan just in case. He said he has been with the city for 27 years and said he's "never seen anything remotely close" to this.

Council members are getting frustrated.

"I'm so angry, I can't even say it," Claire Fallon said. "Truthfully, I don't even know if I'll want to run again. I'm too good for this nonsense."

Here's the problem: Most council members agree that Charlotte needs a lot of construction projects over the next few years, but they disagree on how to pay for them. Some do not want to raise property taxes. Some are willing to raise taxes a little to do some of the projects, but cannot agree on which ones. Others are OK with the original plan -- an 8 percent tax hike -- to cover the entire $926 million list of projects.

Warren Cooksey is against the plan voted down earlier this week, but he didn’t completely dismiss it.

"It's possible. The whole original plan is still on the table," he said.

Cooksey said he’s willing to go along with any tax hike up to 2.44 cents for every $100 in property value. Mecklenburg County Council voted to drop its tax rate 2.44 cents per $100 of valuation, which would mean a wash for city taxpayers.

Andy Dulin knows council appears to be all over the place.

"Six council members said no tax increase last Monday night. Now, three days later, there seems to be a lot of waffling on that," Dulin said.

He said he's willing to give up the one project in his district, Park South Drive extension, if it will mean no tax increase.

Cooksey is willing to give up the one project in his district, a new police station, if that will help.

LaWana Mayfield said she would give up a road widening project as well.

Patsy Kinsey said she is open to dropping something, but did not specify what.

Council members have to submit any ideas they have to Walton by noon Monday.