CLT Council expense purchases even with tens of thousands of dollars of allowances

Over 2020 and some of 2021. councilmembers spent $19,187 on things like meals, Ipad keyboards and travel.
Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 4:45 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Over two mostly virtual years, Charlotte city councilmembers have still found ways to spend money on trips, food and technology and expense it to the City of Charlotte taxpayers.

Over 2020 and some of 2021. councilmembers spent $19,187 on things like meals, Ipad keyboards and travel.

That’s far less than the $56,825 spent in FY2018.

“We’re at a point though, where any extra dollars appropriated at the Council level need to go into things like research,” Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt said.

Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt is not running for re-election. As she leaves office, she posited that money could be better spent on research staff to help councilmembers better understand major city objectives and policy proposals.

“I’ve used my own counsel salary to pay interns to do research work. I don’t think you should have to do that,” Eiselt said.

That council salary is $32,638 a year. The mayor makes $39,646.

But, when you add up the extra allowances council members all receive, it’s actually a lot more.

City councilmembers get an annual expense allowance of $9,795, an annual tech allowance of $5,235 and an annual auto allowance of $4,776.

Most of that money gets paid in their monthly paycheck or comes in the form – so, in reality, the council’s take-home pay is about $52,444.

But that hasn’t stopped councilmembers from submitting receipts for other reimbursements.

The biggest spender was Mayor Vi Lyles with more than $5,000 spent on a trip for the President’s Cup in Australia and nearly $3,000 spent to court companies with the NBA in Paris.

Eiselt said if any elected official in Charlotte should be getting paid more, it’s Charlotte’s mayor.

“I do think the mayor salary needs to be more because that that is a full time CEO job,” Eiselt said.

There are several other expenses that stood out in light of the allowances Charlotte council receives. More than $1,700 was spent on various technology devices ranging from keyboards to phone cases smart pencils to zoom subscriptions.

It’s unclear why council members need to submit recepits and be reimbursed for these devices if they already received an annual technology allowance of more than $5,000.

WBTV has filed a new record request to track how the expenses are being charged and what account they’re coming from because it is the taxpayers money. Ultimately, council is in charge of how much they’re paid and where any extra money goes.

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