Council passes balanced budget
Ken Brown
Fiscal Year 2021 Budget highlights

The Charlotte City Council on June 8 passed the city's FY 2021 budget that invests in public safety, housing and creates more opportunity in key corridors without raising taxes.

"For the past four years, we have been working on building a resilient, adaptable and well-managed government focused on maintaining strong reserves, being structurally balanced, having a long-term strategy for infrastructure and protecting core services from volatile revenue," Jones said. "We have certainly been impacted by COVID-19, but thanks to our long-term budget and financial strategies we are in a strong position as we head into FY 2021."

Highlights of the FY 2021 budget include:

  • Closing a $21.8 million budget gap created by COVID-19 by reducing discretionary expenses, eliminating vacant positions and shifting funds. Taxes are not being increased and no staff are being furloughed or laid off.

  • The FY 2021 proposed budget is structurally balanced with no use of operating reserves and no elimination of services.

  • There were no capital projects delayed because of financial considerations.

  • Not balancing the budget on the backs of Team Charlotte. Employees will be eligible for a 3 percent increase in pay.  Sworn public safety employees will be eligible for up to 6.5 percent, with a 1.5 percent market adjustment and 2.5-5 percent step increase.

  • Continuing to invest in public safety by completing our two-year police pay plan and year two of our three-year fire pay plan to increase pay for veteran first responders. Voluntary resignations are down for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) (25 percent) and the Charlotte Fire Department (50 percent), and new recruit applications are up for both CMPD (24 percent) and CFD (7 percent).

  • A $50 million affordable housing bond.  The same amount of funds has been committed to housing bonds during the past two bond cycles than the previous eight years combined.

  • Investing $24.5 million in corridor revitalization through the Corridors of Opportunity strategy.

  • More than $47 million invested in transportation and mobility to build and repair sidewalks, advance the city's Bicycle Program, improve traffic flow and mitigate congestion.

  • Continuing our environmental leadership by purchasing 20 electric vehicles and investing $1 million in an electric car charging infrastructure as part of the Strategic Energy Action Plan.

  • We are keeping fees low. For the second consecutive year we are not raising Storm Water Services fees, there will be no increase to Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) fees, the 1.9 percent Charlotte Water rate increase is the lowest rate increase in more than 10 years, and Solid Waste Services fees are only increasing by 80 cents per month.

2021 Budget Details

Closing the COVID-19 Budget Gap

  • No recommended tax increase.

  • $8.5 million in government reductions and adjustments.

    • Eliminated vacant positions and established a hiring freeze

    • Reduced discretionary expenses.

  • $6.8 million shifted to General Fund to minimize impact to core services (public safety, transportation, planning, housing, solid waste, etc.).

    • Shifting revenue to the General Fund from other sources, primarily the Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) fund.

  • $4.26 million from moving and expanding street resurfacing supplement from General Fund to the PAYGO fund and Capital Investment Plan (CIP).

  • $3.5 million from additional revenue.

Supporting Team Charlotte

  • 3 percent salary increase for General Fund employees.

  • 1.5 percent increase and a step increase of 2.5-5 percent for public safety employees.

  • Enhanced compensation for the public safety pay plan.

    • 5 percent increase for police already at the top of the pay scale, effective in December.

    • 2.5-5 percent increase for CFD employees at the top of the pay scale, effective in November.

  • No health care premium increase.

  • Continue providing employees with the $33 All-Access Transit Pass.

  • No layoffs or furloughs.

Great Neighborhoods

  • $50 million housing bond.

  • $44.5 million neighborhood bond.

  • Comprehensive strategy focusing on Corridors of Opportunity.

    • Focus on six corridors.

    • $24.5 million total investment between capital program and PAYGO, including $5 million included in Economic Development's section.

      • $5 million available PAYGO to support business development in corridors.

      • $5 million available for other corridor activities such as placemaking, developing playbooks, community engagement, and housing activities. 

      • $14.5 million capital investment for infrastructure enhancements, sidewalks, safety improvements and other transportation initiatives.

  • $30 million to complete the Comprehensive Neighborhood Improvement Program.

  • $3.4 million for innovative housing solutions beyond the housing bond.

Safe Communities

  • $500,000 in funding resources to continue to build grassroots capacity to achieve safer communities.

  • Launching a fellowship pilot to work with communities to address violent crime.

  • Supporting a violence interrupter pilot.

  • Three new, full-time employee positions for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management Office

  • Three new safety and fire prevention officers in CFD through a federal grant.

Transportation, Planning, and the Environment

  • $1 million for electric charging infrastructure, and 20 new, fully electric vehicles for the city's fleet.

  • $2 million to increase building sustainability.

  • $102.2 million transportation bond, including:

    • $18 million for phase one of the Bryant Farms Road Extension project.

    • $15 million to build and repair sidewalks.

    • $4 million to advance the city's Bicycle Program.

    • $2 million for Vision Zero.

    • $7.6 million, supplemented with $6.7 million of existing funding ($14.3 million total) for a traffic congestion mitigation program in Steele Creek, south Charlotte, and University City. 

    • $20.3 million for the existing Northeast Corridor Infrastructure program.

  • No fee increase for Storm Water Services and a five-year, $518.5 million CIP.

  • Lowest water rate increase in more than a decade (1.9 percent) and a five-year CIP of $1.9 billion.

  • No fee increase for CATS and the ability for CATS to maintain its existing service level, despite financial uncertainty. A five-year CIP totaling $149.1 million.

  • $2 billion CIP for Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

Workforce Development

  • $5 million available through PAYGO to support business development in corridors, including in the Corridors of Opportunity strategy

  • $1 million to continue to enhance Economic Development programs, including virtual talent development programs.

  • $450,000 of resources for Minority, Women and Small Business Enterprise (MWSBE) development, including AMP Up!

To learn more about these and other important initiatives of the FY 2021 budget, please visit Budget's website.