Charlotte City Council Agrees on Budget Framework with Reduced Fee Hikes for Development Industry

The Charlotte City Council this week voted 8-2 to adopt a revised budget framework for FY 2016 that includes lower property tax and regulatory fee increases than those originally proposed by City Manager Ron Carlee.

Council voted to support the more modest fee increases for rezoning and development plan review after REBIC lobbied for changes to the manager’s proposal. That proposal sought to implement a 2005 Council policy requiring 100 percent recovery of all service costs through regulatory user fees.

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State House Approves $22 Billion Budget, Setting Up Clash with Senate Over Spending Levels

The North Carolina House of Representatives last week approved a $22 billion state budget for fiscal year 2016, which is expected to face significant pushback from the Senate for its 6 percent increase in spending. Among other things, the House budget:

  • Allocates $40 million per year for film industry grants for the next 2 years;
  • Reinstates a scaled-back Historic Preservation Tax Credit.  The tax credit would cap at $20 million for larger projects and $22,500 for single-family homes;
  • Raises teachers’ and state employees’ pay by two percent;
  • Increases Division of Motor Vehicles fees by 30 percent;
  • Reinstates Medical Expense deductions for ALL taxpayers;
  • Creates a pilot program that instructs educators to teach financial literacy in NC schools;
  • Funds the NC Housing Finance Agency;
  • Increases the funding for the Workforce Housing Loan Program to $20 million (from $10 million);

The Senate is expected to release its budget proposal in mid-June, which will likely contain lower spending levels that are more in line with the 2 – 3 percent increases sought by Governor Pat McCrory.

The Senate plan is also expected to scale back or eliminate many of the tax credits and deductions reinstated in the House plan, including the Historical Preservation Tax Credit and Medical Expense deduction. However, raises for starting teachers and other state employees, along with increased funding for the court system, are expected to remain a priority for both chambers.

Realtors® Successfully Lobby Congress for Support of TILA/RESPA Grace Period

Thanks to the hard work and advocacy of North Carolina Realtors®, every member of North Carolina’s congressional delegation has signed a letter to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), asking for an enforcement grace period for the RESPA/TILA closing documentation changes set to take effect on August 1 of this year.

The changes will replace the HUD-1 settlement statement, Good Faith Estimate forms, and Truth in Lending Act disclosure with a new Closing Disclosure and a new, single Loan Estimate. There will be changes to the closing process as well, including a new rule requiring everything to be in place three days prior to closing. Continue reading

Charlotte Realtors® Lobby for Real Estate Industry Priorities in Washington, D.C.

Tillis Group

Charlotte-area Realtors® meet with Senator Thom Tillis on Capitol Hill.

Charlotte-area Realtors® and commercial brokers joined thousands of their colleagues from around the country last week in Washington, D.C., to ask Congress to support real estate-industry priorities and postpone implementation of a pending rule change that will have a significant impact on home closings nationwide.

The meetings on Capitol Hill were part of the National Association of Realtors® annual Legislative Conference & Trade Expo, a five-day gathering of Realtors® and brokers from across the United States to hear from industry experts, federal officials and member of Congress on issues ranging from tax reform to the proposed expansion of EPA jurisdiction over non-navigable waterways. Continue reading

Town of Mooresville Kicks Off Community Housing Assessment with Funding from Realtors®

Realtors® Matt Reyes, Todd Long, Alison Royal-Combs and Sonya Leonard present a check from the Charlotte Regional REALTOR® Association to Mooresville Mayor Miles Atkins and the Town Board of Commissioners

Realtors® Matt Reyes, Todd Long, Alison Royal-Combs and Sonya Leonard present a check from the Charlotte Regional REALTOR® Association to Mooresville Mayor Miles Atkins and the Town Board of Commissioners

The Town of Mooresville recently launched a multi-year effort to develop a Comprehensive Housing Strategy to determine how to best prepare for growth that is expected to double the town’s current population by 2020. The community-based initiative is funded by public and private dollars, including support from the Charlotte Regional REALTOR® Association (CRRA) and the National Association of Realtors® (NAR).

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City Manager Proposes Tax Increase & Development Fee Hikes to Close Budget Gap

Charlotte City Manager Ron Carlee unveiled a 2015 budget proposal that addresses a $21.7 million budget gap through a combination of property tax increases, user fee hikes and service cuts.

If passed, the budget would also result a Storm Water fee increase for nearly 40 percent of City residents, higher water rates, and the elimination of roughly 100 vacant staff positions (though no layoffs are proposed).

For the development industry, the proposed budget includes substantial increases in fees for development permits, plan review, and major rezonings, with some fees more than doubling in cost. Carlee argues that these fee increases would move toward full implementation of a 2005 City Council policy to recover 100 percent of the cost of providing a regulatory service through user fees.

The regulatory fee hike proposals come just a few short months after the release of an independent study by the Gartner Group showed the need for substantial improvements in how both the City and Mecklenburg County issue building and development permits. The study called for improvements in customer service, better interdepartmental coordination, and new investments in technology.

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