Charlotte city council members expressed mixed feelings about city manager Ron Carlee’s proposal to raise property taxes as part of the solution to the upcoming budget deficit.
Raising property taxes by a little under 2 cents, as Carlee has proposed, would fill in about a third of the city’s $22 million budget hole.
The increase has two components: First, use new property taxes to entirely cover the rising cost of trash disposal. Right now single family homes pay a flat $47 fee. Mayor Dan Clodfelter says, in light of what caused the budget hole, killing the fee and using property taxes makes sense.
“We just lost $18 million worth of business tax revenue when the state repealed [a business license tax],” Clodfelter said. “If you take that fee and convert it to a property tax levy then businesses are going to pay that as well as homeowners, so I think he’s got a pretty creative idea. As he says, about 80 percent of homeowners in Charlotte would pay less.”
The other part of the property tax increase would cover the other source of the city’s budget hole. Charlotte lost $11 million because of a drop in property values when Mecklenburg County’s redid its botched 2011 revaluation. Clodfelter called raising property taxes to refill the lost dollars “problematic.”
Councilman David Howard, who like Clodfelter is running for mayor this year, had similar thoughts.
“I don’t know about that part,” said Howard. “The fee [substituting property taxes for the trash fee] to me seems to be a smart thing to me so far.”
Councilwoman Claire Fallon says she’d prefer to cut programs, specifically the city’s street car project, also called the Gold Line.
“As long as that Gold Line is going, I’m not raising taxes,” Fallon said.
Members don’t have to take formal positions on any of Carlee’s proposals until a straw vote at the end of this month.