May 6, 2024 - News

City's plan to accelerate transit projects calls for property tax increase

light rail station

Photo: Alexandria Sands/Axios

Charlotte city manager Marcus Jones is recommending a 1.5-cent property tax increase as well as a $400 million bond this year, partly to ramp up investments in transportation, among other priorities.

Why it matters: With a property tax hike, the city aims to prove its commitment to its transportation goals and get projects shovel-ready.

"If we're fortunate enough to get more revenue — i.e. a sales tax in the future, if the region comes together — that would allow us to move faster on these projects," Jones said during a media briefing Monday. "But if we did nothing, I can guarantee you that trajectory would not be where we'd like to be."

By the numbers: The owner of a $358,600 home will pay about $1 more a week under the proposed tax increase, Jones said.

The intrigue: At the same time, officials are also advocating for a 1-cent sales tax increase for transit.

  • A sales tax increase requires the legislature's blessing to eventually go before voters, while the city can go ahead and pass a property tax increase on its own.

Zoom in: Jones plans to increase a planned bond referendum from $210 million to $400 million. With that, funding for mobility projects would jump from $115.3 million to $238.3 million — up $123 million. That means:

  • $20 million for Vision Zero, transportation safety projects intended to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries
  • $50 million for improving sidewalks
  • $55 million to make street improvements in 16 different areas across the city being called "strategic investment areas" — "Within those bundles, you have everything from sidewalks to lighting to roads and even some transit projects," Jones said.

Also in the budget:

  • $30 million for the Corridors of Opportunity, a program that invests in six underinvested areas in Charlotte, such as West Sugar Creek
  • Doubling the 2024 Housing Bond funding from $50 million to $100 million
  • $11 million to boost the arts and culture scene by fueling individual artists and organizations like Charlotte Ballet and Discovery Place
  • 5% salary increase for all hourly employees (2.5% increases in both July and November) with a minimum increase of $3,280 for the city's lowest-paid employees
  • 4% merit pool for salaried employees
  • Increases the minimum pay for 40-hour hourly employees to $23 an hour
  • Monthly fee increases: Solid Waste (78 cents), water ($4.37), stormwater (47 cents)

What's next: A public hearing on the budget is May 13. Charlotte City Council will vote on the budget in June.

View the full budget here.

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