State budget to fund employee raises, enrollment growth; bill includes authorization for planned health and wellness center

June 29, 2016

State employees will get a combination of across-the-board and merit raises via the budget compromise announced late Monday night. The budget compromise will be sent to Gov. Pat McCrory for his signature this week, after being voted on by the N.C. House and Senate.

The budget includes a 1.5 percent raise and a one-time bonus equal to 0.5 percent of their annual salary for all employees. UNC campuses also will receive funding to award additional one-time bonuses to EHRA employees based upon performance.

Legislators removed the $1 million cap on fundraising expenditures, which was an issue important to University leaders as UNC Charlotte builds momentum for a major fundraising campaign that officials expect to announce formally in September.

The budget would appropriate $31 million for enrollment growth funding for the UNC system, with approximately $8.2 million for UNC Charlotte. A plan to freeze tuition for a student for four years was included in the budget, and the act would restrict student fee increases to 3 percent per year.

Funding for repair and renovations (R&R) to state facilities was included in the compromise budget. Of the $81 million appropriation, the UNC system will receive half the funding to address the most critical needs across all campuses. Typically, UNC Charlotte receives about 10 percent of the system’s R&R funding.

 “At a time when resources are scarce in every part of state government, legislators stood tall for our 225,000 students, faculty and staff,” said UNC President Margaret Spellings in a statement. “We are grateful that the General Assembly worked hard to address the UNC system’s most pressing needs and help us protect the quality and affordability of education we deliver to our students.”

UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip L. Dubois echoed Spellings comments. “We appreciate​ the General Assembly addressing UNC Charlotte's top 2016 legislative priorities: salary increases for all faculty and staff, eliminating the cap on state funding for development activities, funding much needed repair and renovations and funding enrollment growth that is particularly important to our fast-growing campus.”

The General Assembly this week also overwhelmingly passed the annual UNC Self-liquidating bill, which includes approval on the funding plan for UNC Charlotte’s planned health and wellness center.

University and student leaders have discussed how a comprehensive fitness facility will better serve UNC Charlotte’s growing campus population, and legislative approval was needed for the campus to finance the center’s construction. The chancellor developed the financing plan for the center, which would eliminate the debt for the Barnhardt Student Activity Center and reduce the debt fee for the Student Union. This plan would result in a net increase in student fees of only $50 over five years to build and operate the new health and wellness center.

Designs for the planned 142,500-square-foot center are being finalized; it will be located next to the Student Union and will replace a surface parking lot. Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in summer 2017 with completion by fall 2019.