No property tax increase in Charlotte in 2022; possible increase in sales tax for public transit – WSOC TV
CHARLOTTE — Charlotte City Manager Marcus Jones told Charlotte City Council he does not expect a property tax increase to be included in the fiscal year 2023 budget.
Charlotte City Council members gathered in Winston-Salem on Tuesday for the second day of their annual budget retreat.
With the elections in spring 2022, the budget process this year will be different. Depending on whether there is a runoff for a federal race, the city’s general election could go until May 2022. That would mean incoming elected officials would only have a few weeks to pass a budget.
With that in mind, the Charlotte City Council appears to be on the same page and will pass the FY23 budget before leaving office.
Councilor Tariq Bokhari said it was probably okay if the budget was as normal and uncontroversial as possible.
“If it’s a quiet budget that’s not very controversial, it’s probably OK,” Bokhari said.
Other leaders said trying to rush new budget talks with a new board would be difficult.
“I think it would be very inconvenient to try to do all the workshops and the preparation for the council vote, and then have new people get in on the vote right after they take office,” Councilman Ed Driggs said.
Mayor Vi Lyles says she is in favor of the council’s current vote.
Right now there is a budget gap of $7 million. This is typical for this stage of the process.
Adjusted timeline for Charlotte’s proposed transit expansion plan
Charlotte City Council has reviewed plans for a Transformational Mobility Network. City leaders are currently in Winston-Salem for their annual budget retreat after being told by a representative of the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance that there is a “cost of doing nothing.”
The city unveiled a new timeline for projects and highlighted those that don’t involve rail. Among the changes, the city plans to invest more in non-transit projects. The new timeline centers on a referendum in the fall of 2022. If the General Assembly authorizes the referendum and voters approve it, the sales tax will come into effect in July 2023.
“We know we have to do something, especially as affordable housing becomes increasingly scarce,” Councilor Victoria Watlington said. “We need to get people in and out of the area.”
The first funded projects will focus on buses. The sales tax increase will allow for new routes and faster pickup times under the Charlotte Area Transit System’s “Envision My Ride” plan.
“It’s clear to me that we cannot achieve a healthy bus system, which should be the backbone of any transit program. We’re not going to have that unless we have a new source of revenue,” Pro Tem Mayor Julie Eiselt said.
The city has also changed its tone on the Red Line project, which is the proposed long-running commuter rail line for the Lake Norman community. If it is determined that the project is not feasible, the affected cities will receive more money for these types of projects.
If the General Assembly authorizes a sales tax increase and it passes, Watlington said the public needs to know what they’re getting.
“If these things are going to be put to a referendum, every person who shows up gets a vote and they’ll want to know what they’re getting out of it,” she said. “When you start talking about dollars coming out of people’s pockets, not everyone is going to want to take one for the team.”
The day was not without drama.
The Charlotte City Council debated how best to engage with Raleigh leaders. Councilor Tariq Bokhari and Councilor Braxton Winston requested that the Transformational Mobility Network be sent to the Intergovernmental Committee so that they can begin to engage in talks with the General Assembly leadership. The motion originally conveyed a technical detail. Councilman Matt Newton was not present when the vote took place and it was marked as a yes.
But after a brief 15 minute break, council returned and there was a motion to vote again. When the board voted again, Newton voted no. Ajmera also changed her vote to no. City leaders opposed to the committee’s mission say they’re working to build support with cities and don’t want the Transformational Mobility Network to focus on Charlotte.
Bokhari criticized the vote and expressed his displeasure on Twitter:
“Members of the #NCGA and elected officials from surrounding cities, the #CLTCC just pulled a quick summary during our retreat for not allowing us to work directly with you on the transit plan, rather leave that to the backs -rooms and to the powers that be. That’s why it will fail again.
House Speaker Tim Moore responded to Bokhari:
“I believe any transit plan should be developed with full public input and the cooperation of the General Assembly.”
Newton said he missed the vote because his parking lot had expired and he needed to renew his time. He said when he got to his car he realized he had forgotten his wallet and had to go back and get it to pay.
Charlotte City Council voted 8 to 1 to approve $60 million in COVID-19 relief. Of the $60 million, $17 million is for housing, $16 million for workforce development and employment, and $27 million for community vitality.
Council members also heard an update on Charlotte Water’s non-payment. The City Manager’s special assistant Shawn Heath told the council that 13,600 Charlotte Water customers are eligible for disconnection due to non-payment. This represents 5% of customers. The city says the outstanding balance is $10.7 million as of October 22.
The city expects to increase disconnections over the next 6 months. Residents can get assistance with rental, mortgage and utility payments by calling 311.
(WATCH BELOW: The City of Charlotte is transitioning its fleet to electric vehicles)
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