$250M Charlotte budget wish list includes $800K for blinds



Charlotte City Council is considering a list of projects that could cost nearly $250 million in taxpayer dollars and some of the items are raising eyebrows among city leaders.
On Wednesday, council members met for their final budget workshop before City Manager Ron Carlee presents his recommended budget to council on May 5. 
During the meeting, council members were presented with a list of potential new investment considerations and adjustments that totaled $248.7 million.
The list includes $12 million in renovations at Bojangle’s Coliseum in east Charlotte including new seating, scoreboard and sound system, nearly $42 million in renovations at Time Warner Cable Arena, $65 million in city technology upgrades and $36 million toward renovations at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center.
The Government Center project includes $800,000 towards a fitness center employees use and $800,000 toward replacing blinds in the building, which made Councilman Gregg Phipps of District 4 concerned.
"No matter how you spin it, I don't know how you justify to the public -- $800,000 in blinds," said Phipps. "That just seems like an awful amount of money for some blinds."
The city plans to meet with Mecklenburg County leaders and officials with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, both of which have offices in the Government Center, to find out if they will help pay for the project.
The question council members had for Carlee and the budget office is how the city will pay for the list of projects.
The city is already paying for a $816.4 million community-investment plan when Carlee is not proposing tax hikes.
"I think that government does have to live within its means. I haven't seen any real compelling need," Carlee said.
Carlee said some of the projects can wait, but Councilman Ed Driggs isn't so sure.
"I'm a little nervous that while he is saying we don't need any tax hikes, a situation is being described where we are going to have to choose between service cuts or tax hikes," said Driggs.
Driggs said he doesn't believe that's the only option.
City leaders still have time to iron out a solution to offer services and meet needs without tax hikes. A budget won't be adopted until June 9.