Local GovernmentNews & Opinion

Mecklenburg County Passes $2.3B Budget, Raises Property Tax for FY2024

Commissioners also approve $2.5B bond for CMS

The Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners in a meeting
The Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners discuss the FY2024 budget on June 6, 2023.

The Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners approved its $2.3 billion budget on Tuesday for Fiscal Year 2024, which begins July 1.

It passed 7-2 with commissioners Pat Cotham and Elaine Powell voting against it.

The spending plan is $156.2 million more than last year’s and homeowners are going to feel the increase. Property taxes are increasing 3.5% in order to help fund employee raises and new facilities and programs in housing, education, parks and health care.

Highlights of the budget include:

  • $597 million toward Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools operating expenses — $39 million more than last year for teacher raises, increases in charter enrollment and the cost of running two new schools; $23 million for preventative maintenance
  • $49 million for Central Piedmont Community College
  • $40 million on environmental efforts, such as land acquisition and stormwater, solid waste and air quality operating expenses
  • 3% raises for county employees
  • $25.3 million for Meck Pre-K
  • $6.7 million to Mecklenburg’s EMS agency, Medic, for equipment including vehicles, technology replacements and “auto-loading” stretchers; $3.6 million for EMTs, paramedics and other staff
  • $3 million to Three Sisters Market co-op grocery store planned for the West Boulevard corridor
  • $128,000 to reopen Latta Place

County adopts $4B Capital Improvement Plan

Tuesday’s budget discussion also included adopting the next Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), a $4 billion five-year program that funds a range of projects from FY2024-FY2028.

The CIP passed 6-3 with commissioners Powell, Laura Meier and Susan Rodriguez-McDowell voting no.

This year, the county is implementing a rolling CIP, meaning the county will evaluate the plan each year and adjust to account for changes in construction costs, revenue estimates and the addition of new projects to accommodate evolving priorities.

The 2024-2028 CIP includes: 

  • $2.5 billion for up to 30 projects for CMS — 12 elementary schools, seven middle schools, 10 high schools and a new athletic complex — funded by a school bond referendum placed on the ballot for voter approval in November 2023.
  • $809 million for county projects like upgrades for court and detention facilities and additional Community Resource Centers.
  • $448 million for park and recreation projects including greenways; a new park at Eastland Yards; improvements at older facilities; lake dredging; and new amenities like skate parks and pickleball courts.
  • $146 million for Charlotte Mecklenburg Library projects, which includes relocation and expansion of the Sugar Creek and West Boulevard branches; a new branch on Nations Ford Road; renovation of ImaginOn; and continued progress on the Main Library in Uptown.
  • $107 million for projects at CPCC, including a new public safety training facility.

Following the vote to approve the CIP, the board held a vote to authorize spending for projects in the CIP that are slated for FY2024. That passed 7-2 with commissioners Powell and Cotham voting no.

Commissioners approve $2.5B CMS bond

County commissioners on Tuesday also approved a $2.5 billion bond package for CMS, despite some hesitation during last week’s straw vote on the topic with commissioners Arthur Griffin, Pat Cotham and Vilma Leake voting against it.

On Tuesday, the board voted 7-2 to put the bonds on the ballot in the upcoming election with commissioners Cotham and Arthur Griffin against it.

Voters will ultimately decide at the polls in November whether the county should borrow the money on behalf of CMS — the largest amount for the school system to date. The last bond referendum for CMS approved by voters was in 2017 for $922 million.

A $2.5 billion bond package could be a tough ask since paying back the bonds will require property tax increases in future years and homeowners are already absorbing a 3.5% tax hike this year.

It was the main reason Griffin said Tuesday he could not support the bond.

“That’s going to impact folk substantially in out years,” he said.

Commissioner George Dunlap clarified the board is not implementing a future tax hike by approving the CMS bond.

“This board of commission cannot put a $2.5 billion tax burden on the community unless the community says that’s what they want,” he said. “Individually, you can cast your ballot when you go vote on this bond, but right now [the motion] is to take it before the commission to have them authorize it so that we can put it on the ballot and let the citizens decide.

“We’re not sponsors. We’re simply allowing the public to vote on it,” he continued.

CMS plans to use the money to add classrooms, replace aging schools and improve learning conditions and safety.

The full county budget can be viewed on the Mecklenburg County website.

SUPPORT OUR WORK: Get better connected and become a member of Queen City Nerve to support local journalism for as little as $5 per month. Our community journalism helps inform you through a range of diverse voices.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *