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Council Quickies: A Look at the Proposed FY25 City Budget

Jones pitches housing, city employee pay and arts & culture funding

The Alternatives to Violence program on Beatties Ford Road would receive $500,000 in continued funding if the proposed budget is approved
The Alternatives to Violence program on Beatties Ford Road would receive $500,000 in continued funding if the proposed budget is approved. Pictured: Larry ‘No Limit Larry’ Mims joins Beatties Ford ATV violence interrupter Leondra Garrett at an Alternatives to Violence event in Charlotte. (Photo courtesy of City of Charlotte)

City Manager Marcus Jones on Monday led an hour-long presentation to introduce his office’s proposed fiscal year 2025 budget for the city. 

Jones is proposing a $4.4-billion budget, up from $3.3 billion in fiscal year 2024. Part of that would come from a 1.5-cent proposed property tax increase, which would be the first property tax increase from the city in five years. 

Coming to about a $54 increase per year for the average property owner in Charlotte, the proposed property tax would break down to 0.9¢ to the city’s General Fund to almost fully toward public safety, 0.3¢ to the Capital Investment Plan and 0.3¢ to arts and culture.

Last month, a coalition of 16 community organizations calling itself the People’s Budget Coalition released a number of suggestions for the city to consider in putting the new budget together, calling for criminal justice reform, better pay for city workers and more investment in housing.

Read more: People’s Budget Coalition Releases Requests for Coming City Budget

Jones’ proposed budget did meet some of the suggestions of the coalition, including their recommendation that the city double its allocation for the Housing Trust Fund and expand CMPD’s CARES program. 

Below are a few standout items from Jones’ Monday night presentation.  

The proposed budget includes a 5% pay raise for the city’s hourly employees over the next year (2.5% in July and 2.5% in November), with a minimum $3,280 increase (7%) for the city’s lowest-paid salaried employees.

The city manager’s office is proposing an increase in the minimum wage for city employees from $22.21 to $23, bringing the minimum salary for full-time employees to $47,840. 

The proposed budget includes an increase in salary for police officers to a starting salary of $64,485 with a four-year degree and top-out pay at $104,801 with a four-year degree. Most employees in the police pay plan will receive 5%-7.5% increases.

As requested by the People’s Budget Coalition, the proposed budget would fund a new CARES Team, which comprises licensed social workers who respond to low-level calls for service instead of police officers. This would expand the hours of operation and coverage area for the CARES program.

The proposed budget also includes up to a 7.5% increase for employees in the fire pay plan while adding 72 positions to Charlotte Fire Department: 57 firefighters, 12 inspectors, and three civilians.

The budget proposes building three new infill fire stations (Hidden Valley, Miranda Road, and the River District) while replacing two existing stations (Station 11 in North End and Station 30 at the airport).

A rendering of the proposed CFD Station 11 in North End. (Rendering courtesy of City of Charlotte)

As requested by the People’s Budget Coalition, the proposed budget would double the allocation to the Housing Trust Fund, which supports the construction of affordable housing, from $50 million to $100 million.

The budget proposes $11 million in funding for arts & culture, including $9 million for its 33 annually funded organizations and $2 million for individual artists and organizations.

The proposed budget includes $500,000 in continued support for the ongoing Alternatives to Violence program on Beatties Ford Road, while federal funding is being leveraged to fund the newer ATV programs on West Boulevard and Nations Ford Road.

Read more: New Alternatives to Violence Team Launches on West Boulevard

Local organizers Robert Dawkins and Kass Ottley were in attendance to hear Jones’ presentation Monday night. Both are members of the People’s Budget Coalition. 

Following the presentation, Dawkins said he was “actually happily surprised” with the proposal, especially with the increase in funding for the Hosing Trust Fund. 

“I thought we were really going to have to beat them to go from 75 [million] to 100,” he told Queen City Nerve. “Where the big part is going to come is making sure $25 million goes to more than building apartments but for working on permanent housing solutions.” 

He mentioned community land trusts, land banking and other innovative initiatives like the construction of more accessory dwelling units. 

“Maybe if there’s a group that can build those, maybe they can get funding,” Dawkins said. 

Though Dawkins said he was happy with the proposed increase in Housing Trust Fund dollars and the expansion of the CARES program, neither he nor Ottley were impressed with what was proposed for city employees.  

“We wanted the city worker deal to be at $25 an hour,” he explained. “He’s adding stipulations in there for the increases in pay that would bring the least paid worker up to $47,000, but we wanted everybody for the city to at least make $52,000. We’re happy with most of what we saw, but that was one of the sticklers that we still need to work on.” 

Council members did not comment publicly on the proposed budget following Jones’ presentation, as they will be given time to do so during future meetings. 

Council will host a budget public hearing on Monday, May 13, followed by budget adjustments on May 20 and a budget straw vote session on May 30. Council is then expected to vote on budget adoption on June 10. View the full proposed budget here

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