Streetcar, tax increase become focus of city's budget fight

by: Linzi Sheldon Updated:


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Charlotte’s mayor on Wednesday morning revealed he's willing to budge on some subjects, like lessening the proposed tax hike and even agreeing to a smaller bond package.

But by the end of the day, there was no plan with enough support to pass in Monday night’s meeting.

Inside the Government Center Wednesday morning, Mayor Anthony Foxx gave an update on what he thinks needs to be in this year's budget, including the light rail and streetcar extensions,  projects he says the city needs to act on now.

“The longer we wait, the more we'll pay,” Foxx said.

With tension growing over the budget battle, some council members said they should have been invited to Wednesday’s briefing.

“Council members were not told about a budget meeting this morning. I’m vice chairman of the budget committee,” said Andy Dulin, who has come out against raising taxes and including the streetcar in the budget. “The streetcar is the line in the sand.”

For about half an hour Wednesday afternoon, Dulin and other council members against the proposed 3.6 cent property tax hike met with the city manager and deputy city manager -- but Foxx was not included in that meeting.

The group did not want to comment about the discussion.

One council member said they are considering about half a dozen budget scenarios, including a new one that was presented Wednesday. All of the budget ideas drop the proposed property tax increase to below the suggested 3.6 cents per $100. All of them also cut or delay funding for the streetcar, which would cost $119 million.

As Monday's vote creeps closer, the streetcar could be the ultimate snag for Foxx.

“I do feel very strongly that we'd be doing a disservice not to give it our best shot with the streetcar,” Foxx said, when pressed about whether he would support a plan without it.

On Wednesday afternoon, the mayor announced he was calling a special budget meeting with City Council at 1:30 p.m. Monday, hours before that night's budget vote.