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Posted: 5:52 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013
By Scott Wickersham
CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
Eyewitness News has been pushing Charlotte city leaders for answers about a plan to offer the Panthers more than $100 million to help upgrade their stadium. Tax payers would pay for it if they double the food and beverage tax to raise the cash. That would mean a tax of more than 9 percent for every meal eaten out. In 1992, lawmakers allowed Charlotte to charge a 1 percent tax on food and beverage sales. Lawmakers allowed the tax to pay for the Charlotte Convention Center. More than 20 years later and the tax remained in effect. It currently brings in $24 million a year. That's hundreds of millions of dollars still being collected for a now aging conference center with no end in sight. Doubling the tax worries Jim Sprowles, who is about to open a restaurant in Ballantyne. He wants the Panthers to stay, calling them great for business. But he remembers when the first food and beverage tax was sold to Charlotte. He thought it would be temporary. "I fear this will be the same result. After the stadium renovations are paid for that it will continue to go," Sprowles said. Analysts with the conservative John Lock Foundation in Raleigh agree. "It's hard for any government to give up the revenue. I mean you can always find a place to spend it," said Dr. Roy Cordato, JFL vice president for research. Channel 9 asked Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx if a new tax would expire after the Panthers get paid. "The question is premature. We are continuing to work through issues relative to our capital budget," he said. Several City Council members said Wednesday they would not be able to comment on if they voted to approve the tax increase in a closed-door meeting Monday. The increase would need approval by the state Legislature. Mecklenburg County Sen. Bob Rucho did not return phone calls on if he would support it.
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