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.

The City is facing a $21.7 million budget gap from the elimination of the Business Privilege License Tax and a reduced property tax digest resulting from the ongoing revaluation process. However, staff have said the regulatory fee increases are NOT intended to address this deficit, but rather to implement the 100% cost-recovery policy adopted by Council.

The manager’s original budget proposal included substantial increases in fees for development permits, plan review, and major rezonings, with some fees more than doubling in cost. Under the framework Council adopted this week, those fees will only increase to a level that recaptures 80 percent of service costs.

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.

Here are the regulatory fees in the budget framework adopted by Council this week, with both the original and revised increases for each:

  • Major Commercial Subdivision Review & Inspection: The per project fee would have increased 116.8 percent, from $3,740 to $8,110 on July 1. Under the revised proposal, the fee would increase 73.5 percent, to $6,490. The additional $100 per-acre fee for this review would remain the same as today.
  • Major Residential Subdivision Review & Inspection: The per project fee would have increased 103.2 percent, from $4,200 to $8,535 on July 1. Under the revised proposal, the fee would increase 62.6 percent, to $6,830. The additional $100 per-acre fee for this review would remain the same as today.
  • CDOT’s Commercial Building/Driveway Permit/Site Plan Fee: The per project fee would have increased from a range of $100 – $300 to a flat $740, for an increase of 146 percent. Under the revised proposal, the fee would increase 96.7 percent, to a flat $590.
  • CDOT’s Rezoning Application Review Fee: Currently a flat, per project fee of $1,400, this would have increased 169.3 percent, to $3,770, for a major rezoning, while dropping by nearly half for a minor rezoning. Under the revised proposal, the fee would increase 115.4 percent, to $3,015.

The revised budget framework also includes a lower property tax increase, with a hike of 1 cent, instead of the manager’s proposed 1.76 cents. The annual Solid Waste fee would be a flat $25 per household, representing a $1 per unit increase for multifamily and a $12 per home decrease for single-family.

REBIC appreciates staff and Council working with the development industry to moderate the proposed fee increases, and we look forward to continued dialogue with the City on improving the development plan review and rezoning processes.

The full details of the Manager’s proposed budget can be found on the City’s website. Council is expected to make final tweaks at a budget workshop Monday June 1 at 4 p.m., and take a vote to adopt the budget at their regular meeting on Monday, June 8th.

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