Saying we are all in this together, Charlotte City Manager Curt Walton made a formal pitch Wednesday for a $926 million capital plan that he said will invigorate some of the citys struggling areas.
Walton had unveiled the spending plan in March, but Wednesdays presentation was his official recommendation to Charlotte City Council.
The only difference is that the city expects it will need a slightly smaller property-tax increase to pay for it. In March, the city expected it would need a 9 percent property tax increase.
The latest projection is that council members would need to approve an 8.2 percent hike. The change is due to fewer people winning property tax revaluation appeals than anticipated.
If approved, the increase would mean that the owner of a house with a taxable value of $200,000 would pay an additional $72 a year in city property taxes. The citys tax rate would increase from 43.7 cents for every $100 of taxable value to 47.3 cents.
The next step is for the City Council to consider the plan, and possibly modify it.
Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx has not endorsed all parts of Waltons capital plan, but he supports the general concept of investing in the less-affluent parts of the city.
Foxx said the citys next challenge is whether we can create infill development.
He added the main question about the capital plan is of scope, and magnitude.
Walton has said he was alarmed after the Mecklenburg County property revaluation last year. While much of south Charlotte increased in value, large parts of the city to the west and northeast of uptown saw values decline.
The affluent southern part of the city now contributes about half of Charlottes property-tax revenue, which Walton called unsustainable.
On Wednesday, Walton made a spirited pitch to council members that was different from his usual cautious demeanor.
We are all in this together, Walton said. No part truly prospers where others suffer. No part got where it is on its own.
Much of Waltons plan would spend money on things such as sidewalks, roads, affordable housing and neighborhood improvements, which are typical projects in past city capital programs.
But this plan also would have a number of projects designed to spark economic development and be transformative:
• It would spend $43 million on road improvements west of Charlotte Douglas International Airport. The projects, which include an extension of Garrison Road, are designed to prepare the area for an expected economic boom when a new Norfolk Southern intermodal railyard opens at the airport.
• The city would spend $119 million to continue building a streetcar line through uptown. The first 1.5 miles is expected to open mid-decade. This project would extend both ends of that starter line past Presbyterian Hospital and to Johnson C. Smith University.
• The city would contribute $25 million to a proposed $60 million renovation of Bojangles Coliseum to make it more suitable for amateur sports and tournaments.
• In northeast Charlotte, the city would spend more than $150 million. Much of that money $102.5 million would be to improve roadway and pedestrian access along the proposed Lynx light-rail extension to UNC Charlotte. The city also would spend nearly $30 million on new bridges over Interstate 85, along with $28 million in an attempt to foster technology startups near UNCC.
Voters would be asked to approve bonds to pay for the projects in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018.
City Council member Michael Barnes, a Democrat, said he expects council members to tweak the capital plan before the final vote June 11.
The proposed property tax rate increase would be the citys first since 2006. In addition, city residents could pay more for other services:
• The Charlotte Area Transit System has proposed a fare hike that would raise the cost of a one-way bus or train ticket from $1.75 to $2.
• Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities has proposed a rate increase. A customer using 8 CCFs of water (800 cubic feet) would see a total monthly bill increase of about 6 percent, from $56.23 to $59.53.
• Single-family homes would pay $47 a year for a solid-waste disposal fee, up from $45.
Waltons proposed operating budget includes an average 3 percent merit-based raise for employees. If that raise is approved, the average raise for employees over the last five years would be 1.9 percent, according to the city. The operating budget also includes smaller step increases for more experienced police and firefighters.
And for the first time, the city has proposed offering health benefits to same-sex partners. City Attorney Bob Hagemann said the city was exploring whether that would be legal after N.C. voters approved a constitutional amendment Tuesday defining marriage between a man and a woman as the only civil union recognized in the state.