Meck County manager’s budget comes with proposed tax increase

CHARLOTTE — Mecklenburg County residents could see a tax increase if a new budget proposal is adopted.

County Manager Dena Diorio made the proposal for the upcoming year on Thursday.

Everyone who owns a home or business in Mecklenburg County would see their taxes rise again if it’s approved.

The county manager is proposing a 1.5-cent property tax increase, which could add up to an extra $5 per month for some. That $5 would apply to someone whose home is worth $383,000, the median price of a home in Mecklenburg County.

Diorio said the tax hike is necessary to cover what she is calling a significant drop in revenue. The new budget is for $2.5 billion, up 5.5% from last year.

Diorio said Mecklenburg County is dealing with fiscal challenges and revenue shortfalls. For example, the county is losing $12 million a year because the sheriff’s office isn’t housing federal inmates anymore. That decision was made because the sheriff said the U.S. Marshals Service wouldn’t agree to paying an extra $31 a day for housing.

With a slowing housing market and rising interest rates, the county is out $5.7 million that would be collected by the Register of Deeds.

The county is also losing $2.3 million from changes to Medicaid reimbursements.

“There’s no guarantee that those revenues are going to return, so that’s why we have to fill that,” Diorio said. “Otherwise, you cut services, and you never were able to restore them.”

That more than $20 million hole combined with debt needed to pay for the $2.5 billion Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools bond from last year and other county capital projects means taxpayers will likely have to pay more.

Diorio says she tried to strike a balance with maintaining services and addressing the county’s priorities, like affordable housing.

“We have raised the bar for services for residents, and we need to maintain the services that are critical to people,” she said.

The county is also dipping into savings, pulling more than $100 million from its rainy day fund. This money will go toward one-time purchases like buying land for parks and bonuses for CMS teachers.

This was Diorio’s 12th budget presentation to the board. She said preparing it was challenging and understands the gravity of a tax increase.

“I’m not saying that’s easy for everybody because it’s not,” she said. “And we understand, what the reval last year, that a lot of people got hit pretty hard. So we’re sensitive to that.”

The county has $140 million more than their policy minimum saved in the rainy day fund. So the $100 million is a large hit, but the county is still in good shape with savings.

This budget also fully funds the request from CMS.

The county will hold a public hearing on the budget proposal on May 23. The commissioners won’t vote on it until June.

(WATCH BELOW: New fiscal year budget could bring parking changes throughout Charlotte)