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Tax rate is down, but bills will go up for many under $2.6 billion Charlotte budget

The Charlotte City Council recites the Pledge of Allegiance before a July 16, 2018 meeting.
The Charlotte City Council recites the Pledge of Allegiance before a July 16, 2018 meeting. jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

The City Council approved a $2.6 billion budget Monday night, lowering the tax rate, but increasing many homeowners’ bills.

The council approved the budget unanimously, with the tax rate set at revenue neutral, which lets the city bring in the same amount of revenue as the year before due to higher property values.

“I think we are in a really great place to begin to think about how we can make sure Charlotte is actually a city where everyone can live, where we can make sure they have work and jobs to do, and know that we’re going to work on transportation so they can get to and from those positions,” said Mayor Vi Lyles. “It’s not that we’re finished, but I can tell this is a great beginning.”

Under the new tax rate — 34.81 cents per $100 of assessed value — many homeowners will see higher bills, even though the tax rate is lower.

That’s because property values across the city soared since the last revaluation in 2011: the median increase in residential property values was 43 percent, while the median commercial increase was 77 percent. Higher property values allow the city to take in more revenue, even with a lower rate, with tax bills reflecting how much individual properties appreciated compared to the city average.

A home valued at $250,000 will see a city property tax bill of $870.25

Last week, the county commissioners approved a budget with a tax rate about 2 cents higher than what the county needed to remain revenue neutral.

With both budgets approved, tax bills are set to go out in July.

Charlotte water and sewer rates will also increase by $2.21 per month for the average customer.

Here are some component’s of the city’s budget:

  • The budget raises minimum pay for city employees to $16 per hour by the end of fiscal year 2020, as the city works to reduce inequality. The 2018 budget increased pay to $15 an hour. It’s part of an effort to intentionally give the lowest paid employees more. The city ranked last among 50 cities for upward mobility in a 2014 study by researchers at Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley. All employees earning more than $69,333 will receive their usual 3% raise.
  • The budget also allocates more than $55 million toward creating and preserving affordable housing. A city report found Charlotte needs around 34,000 affordable housing units to meet demand.
  • $2 million on officer training for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
  • $1.65 million in additional funding for economic development initiatives for new business creation, innovation and entrepreneurship.

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