Mecklenburg County homeowners could be hit with their first property tax increase in five years if the $1.7 billion budget that County Manager Dena Diorio presented to county commissioners Tuesday is approved.
Diorio said the increase is needed to pay for school security improvements, additional pre-K seats and more school health care professionals.
Diorio’s budget would increase funding for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools by $24.2 million dollars, although CMS had asked for $40 million. This includes money for more cameras, locks and hardened windows at schools and five CMS police. The budget also calls for $5.7 million in security technology upgrades for the county’s computer system, plus 11 new IT positions to prevent attacks like last year’s ransomware attack on the county’s system.
To help pay for these and other increases, Dioro is calling for a three-quarters of a cent property tax increase. She’s asking for it at the same time the city manager is seeking a property tax hike.
“If the one cent tax increase proposed by the city manager is ultimately approved by the city council," Diorio said, "the combined increased on a single family home valued at $250 thousand in the city of Charlotte amounts to less than $4 per month."
Or nearly $50 a year.
While Diorio’s budget would give CMS most of what it requested, she said no to a 7 percent increase to raise teacher pay. Superintendent Clayton Wilcox said he was disappointed the pay increase wasn’t in the budget, but was not surprised given other community needs.
“The county manager had to pick those things she thought were the biggest investments they can make, so we’ll take that and move forward together,” Wilcox said. “And then we’ll begin to look at our own budget to see if there is not some way we can better support our teachers.”
Commissioners asked Wilcox for more information on how CMS teacher pay compares to other districts. Commissioner Trevor Fuller, who has advocated for higher teacher pay, said that information will help the board as they decide how to make adjustments to Diorio’s budget.
“I’m not surprised that the teacher supplements I was looking for weren’t in the budget because we need more information from the superintendent on what that would look like, so we can gauge how much more in teacher supplement we should have in our budget,” Fuller said.
The recommended budget also called for increased pay in the sheriff’s office, new Health department positions, and an increase of $5.6 million for Central Piedmont Community College’s operating and maintenance budgets.
County commissioners will hold a public hearing on the budget June 4 and will have additional discussions about it June 7. A vote is scheduled for June 19.