Charlotte, NC

Budget Tuesday in Charlotte: City's $3.2B fiscal forecast, emu emergency, Cinco de Mayo and more

Collin Cunningham

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At $3.2B, Charlotte's proposed 2023 budget is $500,000 heavier than 2022's fiscal forecast.(Mackenzie Marco/Unsplash)

By Collin Cunningham

(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) Good morning, Charlotte residents, and welcome to your Tuesday, May 3 edition of Queen City Roundup. On this sun-soaked day expect a high of 87 around 3 p.m., but maybe bring an umbrella tomorrow as Weather.com predicts a 50% chance of rain in the afternoon.

Wet weather may not be in Charlotteans' budgets this week, but City Council announced that they intend to spend $3.2 billion in 2023 with the release of a proposed budget that prevents tax increases but puts an end to free parking. Speaking of releasing, Duke Energy sold two of its Uptown properties as it plans to consolidate employees to a new headquarters. We also preview Cinco de Mayo to help readers celebrate Thursday's Mexican holiday locally before recounting the story of an escaped emu, in which officers captured a large bird.

But first, feedback: We want to hear from you to help improve the Roundup. Have a suggestion for changes or new daily features, or want to sound off on a recent story? Drop us a line in the comments section.

1. $3.2B in 2023: Charlotte City Council unveils draft for next year's budget

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Charlotte City Manager Marcus Jones on a proposed $3.2B 2023 budget: "I think we've been able to strike a balance, even with COVID."(City of Charlotte)

What happened: If a $3.2 billion fiscal year 2023 budget passes as proposed by Charlotte City Manager Marcus Jones at a special meeting on Monday, city residents would have to say goodbye to free Saturday parking in Uptown and South End. The proposal would not boost taxes or require any employees to be laid off, but it will bump the hourly pay for all city staff to at least $20.

Why it matters: If approved by City Council at its May 31 session, per WCNC, the 2023 budget would represent a $500,000 increase over 2022's $2.7 billion budget. The wage increase comes over a year after municipal workers requested raises and hazard pay, which were absent from last year's budget.

Other budget highlights:

  • Increases starting police officer and firefighter pay by 9 percent in July, and 10.5 percent by January 2023
  • No increase to employee healthcare premiums
  • Allocates $48.8 million within the five-year CIP to construct three fire stations, one of which will be the city’s first all-electric fire station
  • Provides the third consecutive $50 million allocation to create and preserve affordable housing
  • Launches Civilian Assistance: Respond, Engage, Support (CARES) Team for mental health, substance abuse, homelessness calls for service
  • Invests $4.5 million on city building sustainability, including $1.45 million for electric vehicle supply equipment locations, and adds 55 fully electric vehicles to the city’s fleet

2. Duke deals with devs: Energy company parts ways with pair of Uptown properties

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When Duke Energy moves 4,400 employees into its new HQ at 526 S. Tryon St., the company will save $85 to $90 million over five years.(Courtesy of Duke Energy)

Duke Energy, the Charlotte-based Fortune 150 energy provider, may soon officially erase its presence in the city's Uptown district after announcing potential sales to a pair of investors, one based in Germany and the other in Washington, D.C. The European Millennium Venture Capital is in line to add a tall concrete structure at 401 S. College St. to its stable of properties, while MRP Realty out of the United States Capital will take over the Duke office at 526 S. Church St.

Under MVC ownership, the College Street building would eventually transform into a mixed-use site with options for retail and luxury apartment rentals. MRP is eyeing a new tower that would bring 50,000 square feet of retail space to Church Street with a focus on "culinary concepts" and "experiential" shopping.

Even if the purchases are completed this year as expected, however, MRP will have to wait until at least next fall to get to work as Duke plots moving 4,400 employees to a new, 40-floor headquarters in the Duke Energy Plaza planned for 525 S. Tryon St. The tower is expected to open to workers before 2022 ends, per WFAE.

3. Emu emergency: NC police capture large escaped bird

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Native to Australia, emus can grow up to six feet tall and are the second-largest birds on Earth, coming in second to the ostrich.(City of Lenoir, NC Government/Facebook)

For the second time in three years, North Carolina law enforcement had to intervene in the capture of a roughly ostrich-sized bird when officers in Lenoir wrangled an escaped emu who arrived at a local family's home on Saturday. After absconding from a farm in Moravian Falls, about 25 miles northeast of Lenoir, the big bird trekked southwards before ending up in an Eastwood Park Drive SE, where she laid down aside a father and his two children.

The man called 911, leading Lenoir Police Department Sgt. Martin Crisp to ask the man to repeat himself. Upon getting the message, police went to the residence, armed not with handcuffs but a dog collar, which they managed to attach to the bird once they arrived. Law enforcement was able to trace the full-sized flyer to the Moravian Falls site, where they learned its name: Kevin.

Kevin may have made her way from Moravian to Lenoir in under 60 minutes, as Encyclopedia Britannica puts emus at a maximum running speed of 30 miles per hour.

4. Cinco de Charlotte: How to celebrate the Mexican holiday in Mecklenburg County

Cinco de Mayo is, essentially, Mexico's day of independence, commemorating the date in 1862 when the citizens of the burgeoning country severed their colonial ties with France in the Battle of Puebla. That spirit of revolution has gradually transformed into a culinary celebration, with most American Fifth of May events focusing on food. Here are a few Cinco de Mayo events to explore in and around Charlotte, starting Tuesday:

Tuesday, May 3:

Beginning with taco Tuesday before a "wine down Wednesday" from noon to 9 p.m. tomorrow and continuing with a Cinco celebration on Thursday at its location in Rock Hill, Carolina Brew Supply's event is a five-day affair that pivots the menu to pintos and pico de gallo.

Thursday, May 5:

Charlotte's Metropolitan shopping center will help Cinco de Mayo celebrations get decked out in culture with a hair-braiding bar and face paint station while enjoying the fruits of food trucks and live music.

Also keen to get its own piece of the May 5 pie is Camp North End, which will host music at the Bioleryad in its sophomore Cinco event.

Another brewery turning on its taps for May 5, Hoppin' in Charlotte is breaking out the Spanish strings for a guitar-fueled event offering $10 taco plates and $5 appetizers along with the debut of new menu items and various drink specials.

For more opportunities to celebrate the culinary implications of Thursday's holiday, check out a few recipes from WCNC or The Charlotte Observer's guide to local Cinco de Mayo happenings.

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I cover the city of Charlotte, North Carolina for NewsBreak's Creator Program. Check back often for daily headline roundups to learn what's happening in the Queen City!

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