Council declines to fund Northlake Mall area Fire Department ladder truck

The Charlotte City Council has declined to fund a new Fire Department ladder company for the Northlake Mall area, as no member brought forth a plan to cut expenses or raise revenue to pay for it.

The fire department had requested the new ladder truck and 18 new firefighters, saying the extra staff and equipment for the fast-growing area. To expand Fire Station 28 on Old Statesville Road, the city would have had to spend $2.7 million next year and then $1.8 million annually.

In the final meeting before the council is scheduled to vote on the budget on Monday, no council member discussed the request. Last week City Manager Ron Carlee said that funding the new staff would require either higher fees or taxes or budget cuts.

Chief Jon Hannan said he understood the council’s decision not to move forward.

“I didn’t think they could pull it out off,” Hannan said about the city’s struggles this year in balancing its budget.

Council member Al Austin, who represents much of the area served by Fire Station 28, said after the meeting that council members couldn’t find the money for the extra staff. He said residents will still get good service from the department.

“We will try again in future years,” Austin said.

He did not discuss the request during the meeting Monday.

Carlee said the hardest part of funding Ladder 28 would have been the ongoing operational expenses of $1.8 million.

In making its recent budget adjustments, council members decided to restore about $870,000 that would pave 16 miles of streets. City Manager Ron Carlee had recommended in favor of cutting the money for street resurfacing to help close a budget shortfall.

In theory, that money could have gone to help fund the new ladder truck.

The tentative budget calls for a property tax increase of 1 penny for every $100 of assessed value. That is a 2 percent increase.

Water bills are also increasing, and Storm Water fees for homes with large amounts of impervious surface are also going up.

At the same time, council members have tentatively approved cutting the garbage fee paid by single-family homes from $47 to $25 a year.

At-large council member Michael Barnes said “there was no solution” to funding the ladder company.

During Monday’s meeting, Republican council members Ed Driggs and Kenny Smith proposed alternatives to the budget, including postponing part of the Storm Water fee increases. That was voted down by a majority of council.

Harrison: 704-358-5160