Council members propose cutting police training budget to give themselves a raise

Council members propose cutting police training budget to give themselves a raise

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - During a City of Charlotte budget briefing Wednesday Councilman Braxton Winston requested the city manager raise city council and the mayor’s salaries in the FY2020 budget proposal.

Council members Matt Newton and LaWana Mayfield asked city staff about cutting $1 million in police crisis intervention training in order to pay for the salary increase proposed by Winston.

“I would like to know what the county commissioners make in salary and I would like to ask that city council and the mayor salaries be put in line with what county commission makes,” Winston told City Manager Marcus Jones.

The city’s budget director said the one-time police training funds could not be repurposed for recurring council salaries, as a matter of budgetary principle.

Winston told WBTV why he was requesting a salary an increase via text message.

“The salary structure of local policy makers is such that it really only makes sense for Charlotteans who have already accumulated wealth or don’t have to support families to serve. Otherwise you have to go through extraordinary measures to serve in this role,” Winston wrote.

Charlotte city council members earn a salary of $19,809/year and a $5,800 auto allowance. They also receive a $3,100 technology allowance. The mayor earns $25,636/ year.

Mecklenburg County Commissioners are paid $28,336/year plus car, technology and expense allowances totaling $17,656 per commissioner.

Councilwoman LaWana Mayfield asked city staff whether the city could re-purpose $1 million of funding currently slated for CMPD Crisis Intervention Training in order to pay for those salary increases. Under the current budget proposal CMPD is allotted $2 million in CIT training.

“We have some other pressing needs, I think it should be $1 million,” Mayfield said when addressing proposed budget cuts.

City of Charlotte Budget Director Phil Reiger responded that CMPD CIT training money was one-time funding and typically that would not be re-purposed for recurring funding line items like city council salaries.

Councilman Matt Newton was the last to bring up the issue of council salary increases. He asked the city budget team how far $1 million in funding would go for city council salary increases.

“I would venture to say that would probably last quite a long period of time at which point from a recurring standpoint that could probably be figured out,” Newton said.

While the idea of cutting CMPD training funding appears to be dead, the request for council salary raises is still being looked into by the city manager.

WBTV reached out to all three council members.

Mayfield and Winston reiterated to WBTV that the CMPD training funding could not be used for city council salaries since it was a non-recurring funding source.

Newton did not respond to a phone call or text message.

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