CHARLOTTE - Charlotte City Manager Marcus Jones has released his FY19 budget. Charlotte City Councilmembers will now spend the next couple weeks going through the proposal and potentially make changes before giving their final approval next month.
The $2.6 billion budget grew 3.7 percent compared to FY18 and calls for a 1 cent tax increase. The increase adds up to an additional .83 cents a month for a house valued at $100,000.
Through the budget process, city staffers identified $14 million internally to create savings.
At budget meetings, CMPD officers warned Charlotte City Council about low morale and retention concerns. The city has a 10 percent vacancy for police officers and more than 180 positions are open. The city’s budget makes police recruitment and retention a priority. The budget raises CMPD pay 6.5 percent. The starting salary for a police officer in CMPD will be the highest of any agency in the state. The salary will range from $46,532- $51,000 depending on if the recruit has a degree.
The city is also reducing the steps in CMPD’s pay plan from 13 to 12 with a pay boost to mid-range and topped out officers. The city is also introducing a new senior police officer position.
In 2009, the city discontinued retiree health insurance. Under the new budget, the city will contribute $1,000 a year to officers to put toward health insurance after they retiree. The city is also starting a take-home car program. The roll-out will be over several years with 75 to start. Under the budget, the city will spend $800,000 to hire 6 mental health clinicians.
Charlotte City Council has indicated its number one priority is affordable housing. In a win for Mayor Vi Lyles and activists, the affordable housing referendum will be $50 million. Voters will be asked to approve the investment on the ballot in November. The $50 million referendum in 2018 will be followed by a $25 million affordable housing referendum in 2020. In 2022, Charlotte City Council can determine how much money of a $165 million they want to set aside for an affordable housing referendum.
In addition to the tax increase, stormwater fees will rise an average of .75 a month, Charlotte Water fees will rise $1.89 a month and solid waste fees will rise $.59 a month
Under the proposal, city salaried and hourly workers will see a 3 percent increase in salary. For the first time in recent memory, healthcare premiums for city employees will stay flat. In addition, as a perk, in August no employee will have to pay a premium for healthcare.
Charlotte employees will also see a one-week increase in military leave and will have the opportunity to purchase a $1400 all-access transit pass at a discount for $33.
In honor of the city’s 250th anniversary, the city has a goal of completing 250 projects.
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