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Charlotte workers, residents respond to proposed city budget at public hearing

The proposed budget is set at $3.2 billion and includes increases in parking and utility fees.
Published: May. 10, 2022 at 12:17 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Dozens of people showed up at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center for Monday night’s public hearing regarding the City of Charlotte’s proposed 2023 budget.

Among those in attendance were several workers employed by the city and several residents concerned about climate change.

Before the public hearing even began, a crowd of city workers marched through the streets of uptown, chanting that they wanted better wages. For several weeks, city employees have been pushing for the city to increase their pay.

“They need to be paid more. They need to be paid for an honest day’s work,” said Kass Ottley, the project staff organizer for the Charlotte City Workers Union UE 150.

The requests from the city workers have been heard. The city’s proposed budget pay raises and bonuses for city employees as well as a starting pay increase for public safety workers. Hourly employees would get an 8% raise – 4% in July and another 4% in January. There is also a 2% bonus for hourly, salaried and public safety workers. Starting pay for police and fire department workers would go up by 10.5% by January.

“While this budget won’t fix everything, it’s definitely a step in the right direction,” Ottley told the council during the hearing.

Several city workers took to the podium to express their gratitude for the budget adjustments.

“I’d like to thank everybody that knows that city workers deserve to live in the city that they work in,” said Dominic Harris, president of Charlotte City Workers Union UE 150.

Not everyone at Monday’s public hearing was pleased with the proposed budget. A group of citizens decked out in red showed up to plead for the city to provide more funding for SEAP, the City of Charlotte’s Strategic Energy Action Plan.

Already built into the budget is $4.5 million for city building sustainability, $1.45 million for electric vehicle supply equipment locations, money for 55 fully electric vehicles to add to the city’s fleet, and funding for city’s first all-electric fire station.

Still, some citizens said they want to see the city do more to combat climate change.

“The current budget does not reflect the urgency of the moment. The current tool devised by the City of Charlotte to mitigate climate change is the SEAP. This budget does not adequately fund this plan,” said one speaker.

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles encouraged the group to continue its advocacy and did note that $65 million in the budget is devoted to the SEAP program.

There are also some fee increases built into the budget. A 3.5% fee increase for water is included. Stormwater fees would go up 3.8% and trash pick-up increases by 92 cents, or about $11 a year.

The budget also includes fee increases for parking meters in uptown and South End. Those feeds would go from $1 an hour to $1.50 an hour. Plus, drivers would have to pay on Saturdays, a day that’s free right now.

Budget adjustments are scheduled for May 11 and straw votes are set to take place on May 25. The budget will be considered by council for adoption on May 31. The 2023 fiscal year begins on July 1.

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