Mecklenburg County commissioners tentatively approved a new budget Tuesday night that includes an increase to the property tax rate of 2.35 cents.
Commissioners are leaning toward a slightly smaller tax increase than interim county manager Bobbie Shields recommended.
They got to that smaller number by cutting about $2.2 million from what Shields budgeted Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. It was an easy cut since it was set aside to match a teacher pay raise by the state, which doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. Compared to what CMS asked for, it’s about $9 million short.
But commissioners like Republican Karen Bentley pointed out the county would still give the school system more money than it did last year. Bentley said commissioners needed to trim somewhere.
“Because of the economy, the last thing we should be doing is raising taxes,” she said. “The vast majority of my constituents had significant increases in their tax bills due to revaluation, some of them egregiously and erroneously.”
Bentley is referring to the county’s botched 2011 property revaluation. A bill has passed the state senate to make sure people get refunds, and the county plans to pay for those through its reserves.
Bentley also pointed out the city of Charlotte voted to raise its property taxes earlier this week. That means Charlotte residents are already set to pay an extra $63 a year on a home worth $200,000.
If county commissioners stick with the rate they voted on last night, it would add another $47 in taxes to a home valued at that amount.
Democratic Commissioner Trevor Fuller said it’s a tough call.
“But what’s more important to me, and what I believe is our job as commissioners, is to provide services to the community that the community needs,” he said. “Even this budget does not fully fund getting us back to where we even were two years ago.”
Fuller says there are still cuts to parks and libraries that haven’t been restored.
County commissioners are scheduled to take a final vote on the budget next Tuesday.