City Budget Still Up In The Air
6:05 pm
Fri August 24, 2012

City Budget Still Up In The Air

The Charlotte City Council will take another stab at passing a budget and infrastructure plan tonight, but as of this afternoon, they're still sharply divided on how much to raise property taxes.

WFAE's Julie Rose is at City Hall and joins WFAE's Mark Rumsey by phone.

MARK: Julie, what's the status of that 8 percent tax increase the council rejected two weeks ago?

JULIE: It's come down a bit. The original plan was to raise property taxes 3.6 cents per $100 of assessed value. Now we're looking at something between 2.4 cents and 3.16 cents. But there's still no clear path forward for the council when it meets at 6:30 p.m.

This afternoon they had a pretty tense two-hour meeting and took a preliminary budget vote. Six council members voted in support of the 2.4 cent tax rate increase. One of the main things they cut from the plan is $120 million for a streetcar through Uptown Charlotte. The other five council members are really intent on seeing the streetcar happen - as is Mayor Foxx who vetoed the vote as soon as it happened.

RUMSEY: He vetoed a preliminary vote? Why?

ROSE: To send a message. The mayor has promised to use his veto power if he thinks the council passes a budget that doesn't serve the city. He wants the street car. He wants more affordable housing funds, which are trimmed in the smaller plan. He wants some road improvements out by the airport, which are also cut from the smaller plan.

Now, when the council meets tonight at 6:30 p.m. they could try to override his straw vote veto - but that requires 7 votes, which simply don't exist on this issue. So Councilman Barnes told me he plans to just reintroduce his smaller tax increase plan for another vote.

RUMSEY: Is there any indication the result will be different?

ROSE: No. Probably still come out 6 to 5 and the mayor could go ahead and veto it again. Then the council would have to either find a way to override the veto - which, is unlikely to happen - or come up with some other tax increase plan the mayor and council can agree on.

RUMSEY: But the city council needs to have a budget in place by July 1. Can they do it by then?

ROSE: That's unclear. They certainly haven't made much progress over the last two weeks. There is a contingency plan, though. Tonight, they've also got on their agenda an "interim city budget" which is pretty minimal and designed to just keep the lights on for the next month while council members figure out what to do.

RUMSEY: Thanks Julie. We'll watch for your reports tomorrow morning.

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