City Manager Marcus Jones on Monday presented his proposed budget for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 to Charlotte City Council, emphasizing pay raises for city employees and efforts to fill vacancies, specifically in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
The proposed budget, which you can read in full on the city’s website, comes in at $3.3-billion, a little under 3% more than last year, including a 6% increase in the general fund to $832.5 million. The “structurally balanced” nature of the budget means the proposed general fund amount is the same amount brought in as revenue by the city last year, Jones said.
Compared to 2019, the city has seen an increase in vacancies in its hourly workforce (8.1% to 13.5%), its salaried workforce (8.3% to 10.3%) and its police department (9.7% to 10.8%). Meanwhile, the Charlotte Fire Department appears to be fully staffed after seeing a 3.5% vacancy rate in 2020.
Having implemented an 8% pay increase to its hourly employees over the last year, with an increase in minimum wage to $20 per hour for those work 40 hours or more per week, the city is now proposing a further 6% pay increase for those employees.
CMPD’s vacancy rate is expected to increase, as the department is scheduled to see a higher number of retirements this year than in years past. The city will attempt to address the resulting shortage by upping the starting salary for new officers by 10.5% to $63,000 annually while also setting a higher ceiling of top pay for veteran officers at $99,810, an increase of 8%.
All CMPD officers will receive an 8% pay increase and the department will offer 25 more take-home vehicles to veteran officers.
The city manager’s office is also proposing a 5.5-8% pay increase for all employees of the fire department while adding 42 positions in order to establish two new companies and improve staffing.
The city aims to add 29 apprentice roles: 15 bus maintenance technicians for CATS, 10 apprentice positions in Solid Waste Services and four mason apprentices in CDOT. There are currently 100 workers still employed by the city who have gone through similar apprentice programs, Jones said.
In other notes from Monday’s presentation, the city plans to launch a “quality of life team” that will include a four-person rapid-response team that will focus on semi-truck parking, people parking in bike lanes, illegal signage and litter (plus a litter cleanup crew). Will consider increased citations for illegal parking.
Jones said the newly proposed budget did not include a tax increase at the city level, as he did not wish to propose one in light of the recent property tax revaluation at the county level, which will result in an increase in property taxes for 90% of the city.
The budget also allocates $300,000 toward maintaining the Bike Share program and provides $6 million to complete the three-year public-private funding commitment toward establishing the Charlotte Arts & Culture plan that will be completed this year.
The budget proposes a $5 million dollar investment for the implementation of playbooks and continued engagement in the city’s Corridors of Opportunity, $250,000 to continue a partnership with Atrium Health for its hospital-based violence prevention program and adds two new sites to the Alternatives to Violence Program: West Boulevard and Nations Ford/Arrowood areas.
Council members will now have the chance to propose amendments or changes to the proposed budget, and if enough people support those amendments they will be up for a straw vote at a meeting on Thursday, May 25.
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