Spread the Pain

Charlotte City Manager Ron Carlee proposes a least-of-the-bad-options budget
City of Charlotte

When you live in a city that through no fault of its own is short $21.7 million, pain is inevitable. It’s just a matter of who feels it most.

Examining Charlotte City Manager Ron Carlee’s formal budget proposal to the City Council last night, it’s hard to imagine the pain spread more thinly. Carlee recommends a property tax rate increase, but a modest one; an assortment of fee hikes, but mainly to fees the city had been subsidizing anyway; cutting 100 city staff positions that were unfilled; and compensating for the increases to homeowners by waiving the $47-per-year garbage collection fee.

Businesses would still pay the fee, but the largesse they’ve received from the legislature—through the killing of the Business Privilege License tax, the major contributor to the city’s budget crisis to begin with—more than makes up for that. Most homeowners actually would come out ahead—under the manager’s proposal, the owner of a $141,000 home would pay a grand total of $24.83 more per year in property taxes.

None of this matters to people afflicted with the “cuts no matter what” reflex, who are already busy taking to the comments sections to vent their wrath. (“Until they learn how to budget money all their city wages should be on hold!! They caused the problem … they should pay for it!,” writes one guy, missing the fact that city officials didn’t cause the problem.) Council members have a public hearing and three workshops ahead of them before they adopt the budget June 8, and if they or their constituents have any better ideas, by all means, let’s hear them.

Categories: Poking the Hornet’s Nest