City leaders debate pushing special tax to fund streetcar project

by: Scott Wickersham Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

Although the streetcar project is funded from the transit center in Uptown Charlotte out of Presbyterian Hospital, the city is debating how to raise money for another four miles. One idea was to create a special tax for business along the route. It would be a new tax for business that would benefit from the light rail construction.

Rob Nixon is putting $3 million into a new nightclub and restaurant on Central Avenue in east Charlotte.

"My house is two blocks away," Nixon said. "I love this neighborhood."

The two-mile streetcar extension would run nearby, which means he could be subject to a new tax to pay for it.

"I'm not sure until I look at the finances and what benefits I would reap," Nixon said. "But it would help if we can bring Ballantyne and downtown people into this neighborhood."

Some business owners said they would play the tax, but others question how the city will decide how much each business would pay.

The Hall Clock Shop has been on Central Avenue for almost 40 years.

Owner Ken Demert thinks he would benefit from extra traffic, but wonders at what cost to him.

"I don't know how they will put that tax on people," Demert said. "Is it going to be how much extra you make? I don't know how they will determine that."

The special tax district is just one idea to raise money. The city could raise property taxes for everyone, although that idea is less popular.

The ongoing debate is one reason Nixon doesn't expect to see the streetcar outside his business soon.

"I saw it stop at Elizabeth three years ago, and I haven't seen anything move forward," Nixon said.