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Council Quickies: Budget Hearing Gives Glimpse at Residents’ Priorities

Housing and arts among hot topics for dozens of speakers

A young girl speaks during the budget hearing
Harmony Moore asked Charlotte City Council for more money to fund violence prevention among other things during Monday night’s public budget hearing.

Charlotte City Council met for an action review, budget hearing and business meeting on Monday night. 

Much of the meeting was taken up by a public hearing on the proposed fiscal year 2025 budget, which City Manager Marcus Jones presented to council on May 6. About 75 people signed up to speak for Monday night’s forum, with almost all of them discussing one of six topics: affordable housing, city worker wages, overcrowding at the animal shelter, bicycle infrastructure, tenant rights or arts funding.

Public Budget Hearing

The first speaker during Monday night’s public hearing was Harmony Moore, the young founder of youth anti-violence organization Little Listeners. She spoke in support of the People’s Budget Coalition recommendations, which we reported on in April

Local organizer Kass Ottley asked for better wages for city workers, recommending a 6% raise for all workers and a $25 minimum wage. She said city workers have been playing catch-up with inflation for years. “We have workers who retire but still need to work.”

Carol Hardison with Crisis Assistance Ministry spoke in support of the People’s Budget, stating that, in the last year, her organization has served at least 44 city workers who needed their services because they couldn’t afford housing in Charlotte.

The next speaker was a health care employee who said he was forced to turn to Crisis Assistance Ministry for help with his bills and rent. “I stand before you as a single parent with a son and a grandson who does not want them to look at me as less than, struggling financially when I have a job.”

Eric Zaverl with Sustain Charlotte asked that the city fund a more comprehensive connected bicycle network in the city. “A bicycle network makes cycling a viable transportation mode … People aren’t going to choose to ride a bicycle if it isn’t safe and convenient.”

Supporters of the People’s Budget Coalition (PBC) spoke throughout the night, many of whom spoke in favor of the increase in this year’s allocation for the Housing Trust Fund to $100 million. The PBC is asking that $25 million of that allocation be put toward home ownership programs and/or community land trusts.

Jessica Moreno with Action NC spoke against corporate landlord practices that she has witnessed causing displacement around Charlotte. A longtime organizer around housing issues, Moreno said she herself has now been priced out of the city, moving to Gastonia.

Deborah Phillips of Block Love CLT says she originally came to advocate for funding to help operate and expand her organization’s new day service center, but instead used some of her time to speak in support of city workers like her husband who often cannot afford to live in the city.

Dozens of speakers on Monday night showed up in support of the People’s Budget Coalition on behalf of the Charlotte chapter of the Redress Movement, a housing justice organization that works to repair the harm caused by racial segregation in America.

A string of speakers went in front of council to ask for more funding and the creation of a new department for Animal Care & Control. One walked through a detailed and heartbreaking timeline of the experience of euthanizing a healthy puppy.

The shelter has had to put down 300 dogs in the first five months of this year. “Staff has to keep living this nightmare week after week after week,” said one volunteer.

Read more: CMPD Animal Care & Control Opens Satellite Shelter Amidst Crisis

Local artist Makayla Binter speaks on the need for continued funding of arts and culture. “Everyone is creative because Charlotte is creative, and everyone benefits from more arts funding.”

A string of speakers addressing council to ask for more arts funding includes those representing Charlotte’s long-standing institutions like The Mint Museum, Charlotte Ballet and Opera Carolina alongside artists like Carla Aaron-Lopez with BlkMrktCLT and Davita Galloway with duppANDswat.

Terri White, CEO & president of Charlotte Museum of History, reminded council that the museum was left off the list of institutions that will receive funding in the proposed budget and asked that they be included annually.

Multiple housing justice organizers called on council to ensure right to counsel for Charlotte residents who are threatened with eviction. “I have witnessed the tears, the heartache and desperation of those fighting to keep a roof over their head,” said Apryl Lewis.

Budget adjustments are scheduled for May 20 followed by a budget straw vote session on May 30. Council is then expected to vote on budget adoption on June 10.

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