May 16, 2024 - News

Mecklenburg County wants a tax hike, too

Flags and Uptown

Photo: Axios archives

Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio is asking elected officials to adopt a 1.5-cent property tax rate increase in the 2025 fiscal year budget.

Why it matters: The proposed $2.5-billion county budget funds Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, includes more pay for teachers, and would pour millions into environmental, affordable housing and public health efforts.

The big picture: Charlotte City Manager Marcus Jones is also recommending a 1.5-cent tax increase, meaning county residents in the city limits will definitely notice a jump in their tax bills if both are approved.

What they're saying: "This is a lean budget, and there are no more cuts to be made," Diorio told county commissioners Thursday.

  • The budget complies with the school system's request for an additional $46.4 million, largely for employees. Diorio says this "reflects the confidence" she has in CMS leadership. Superintendent Crystal Hill is one year into her permanent job.

By the numbers: The new county tax rate would be 48.81 cents per $100 of assessed valuation — an extra $57.45 a year for the median homeowner ($383,000).

  • The city's proposal is 27.54 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, or $53.76 more a year for the owner of a $358,600 home.

Between the lines: The county's 1.5-cent includes an already planned 1-cent increase to fund the Capital Improvement Plan, which addresses growth through infrastructure and the 30 projects for CMS $2.5 billion bond.

  • The additional half-cent will generate an extra $14.7 million in property tax revenue to make up 74% of a $20 million shortfall.
  • "We have identified strategies to absorb the rest," Diorio said.
  • The county shortfall stems from a loss of $12.3 million because the Sheriff's Office no longer houses federal inmates, a drop of $5.7 million in the Register of Deeds because of the slowing housing market and higher interest rates, and $2.3 million in lost Medicaid reimbursements.
  • The county also expects revenue from property and sales taxes to slow in fiscal year 2025, Diorio says.

What's inside: Below are some of the highlights of the budget. Read the full breakdown here.

  • CMS' increase includes $10.2 million for staff salary increases; $7.4 million to increase teacher supplements, focusing on tenured educators; and $13.8 million to begin raising the minimum wage to $20 per hour for CMS employees
  • $16.9 million in new funding for affordable housing initiatives, including $14.7 million for A Home for All, a communitywide effort to reduce homelessness carried out by United Way of Central Carolinas
  • $2.1 million extra for Central Piedmont Community College
  • $47.2 million for environmental priorities, including $35 million for land acquisition and tree preservation, $2.8 million to add 56 new electric vehicles to the county's fleet, $2 million to preserve farmland and $1.1 million for electric vehicle charging stations
  • $5.4 million to promote art and culture and support creatives
  • Increase the per-child, per-month support from $900 to $925 for MECK Pre-K and NC Pre-K

What's next: The public hearing is May 23. Commissioners vote to adopt the budget June 4.

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