Politics & Government

Charlotte city budget has no property tax hike, but hires 63 new police officers

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Chief Kerr Putney will receive funds for 63 new police officers in the newly approved budget.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Chief Kerr Putney will receive funds for 63 new police officers in the newly approved budget. rlahser@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte’s budget for the upcoming year will have money for 63 new police officers, a new Fire Department ladder company for the Northlake Mall area and additional staff to pick up litter on streets.

City Council voted 9-1 Monday night in favor of the budget, which will not raise property taxes or increase bus and train fares.

However, the annual garbage fee – paid by homeowners and people in apartments – will increase from $25 to $33. The city has said the garbage fee could go up again next year.

Water and sewer bills will also go up. Homeowners will pay, on average, $2.54 a month more. That will pay for infrastructure improvements throughout the city.

Republicans Ed Driggs and Kenny Smith voted for the budget with eight Democrats. Democrat Patsy Kinsey voted against the budget. Democrat James Mitchell was absent.

The budget also includes a pay plan that will create a minimum wage for city workers of $15 an hour by 2019. There is a 3 percent raise pool for city employees.

“That’s important in showing the community that our employees need to be able raise their families in Charlotte,” said Mayor Jennifer Roberts, who campaigned on a $15 minimum wage for city workers.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Chief Kerr Putney last year asked for 125 additional police officers and 80 support personnel. The city wasn’t able to pay for all those new positions, but council members hope to hire 60 or so officers next year.

In addition to the 63 officers, the city will hire 25 support staff for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. Those jobs include 911 operators and analysts to help officers.

“Any investment is naught if people don’t feel like we have a safe city,” said at-large council member Julie Eiselt. “We hope to do it again next year.”

The approval of Monday’s budget essentially marks the end of Ron Carlee’s three-year stint as city manager. Carlee told council members in February that he wouldn’t seek a contract renewal. Deputy City Manager Ron Kimble will become interim manager at the end of the month until council finds a permanent replacement.

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs

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