City leaders discuss streetcar funding

by: Scott Wickersham Updated:


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A meeting of city leaders on Tuesday was for questions about the proposed capital improvement plan. It involves dozens of spending projects, but once again, almost the entire conversation was about the streetcar.

This summer, it was the streetcar and reluctance to raise property taxes that doomed the city manager’s proposed spending plan.

Councilman Michael Barnes said he still doesn't want a streetcar funded solely by a property tax increase.

“The issue isn’t that I don’t want (the) streetcar,” he said. “I don’t want it if it’s not done right.”

Barnes wants to look at other funding sources, and questioned why he isn't seeing enthusiasm from businesses along the proposed route.

John Autry said there is enthusiasm and sees the funding issue a different way.

“Regardless of where the funding comes from, it's a good project,” he said.

Three plans are on the table -- the original proposal of an 8 percent tax increase to raise $926 million, and lower increases to raise $797 million or $674 million.

That cheapest plan is the only one that eliminates the $119 million for the streetcar extension Mayor Anthony Foxx has pushed for.

In the end, Council ordered city staff to explore other sources of funding for the streetcar and get input from businesses that could be part of a special tax assessment to help pay for it.

Those findings could sway those on the fence.

Councilman Andy Dulin said his vote will be the same as this summer.

“If it wasn't good to raise property taxes then, then it still isn’t a good idea now,” he said.

City Council will meet again on Nov. 26. At that point, they will start to make decisions on what they want in and out of the capital improvement plan.