Construction is already underway on the first part of the streetcar project, a project the city manger proposes now be called the Gold Line.
Charlotte City Manager Ron Carlee told the Charlotte City Council Monday that the project is important to the economic development of the city.
"This rail project is not a toy, it's not something on the sideline, it's not a fringe effort. It's an integral part of our overall transportation policy," said Carlee. His office presented a plan to pay for part two of the project on Monday night. The second part of the project is estimated to cost $126 million.
The city manager's office recommends 50 percent of the project be paid for by federal grants and 50 percent by the city. The city's portion would come from cash it already has in the bank and from money it can borrow. The city says it already has a money stream to pay that back, including sales tax, interest on investments and vehicle rental tax.
The city manager says Charlotte won't need to use property taxes to pay for this project. He also says a new tax hike won't be needed. Some council members had been against a tax increase.
"I'm more at ease this day than yesterday per se and days prior because of what's been presented," said Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Cannon.
Council member Warren Cooksey says he's not sold yet. He still wants to look deeper into the proposed funding sources and is concerned federal funding may not come through. The city still has to apply for that.
"The fact that this hinges on the first question, is there federal money, strikes me as being a pretty big 'if,'" said Cooksey.
Cannon says he recognizes that's a possibility as well. But he is glad there's another plan to consider.
"Whatever happens on the federal level could kill the streetcar before we even have a chance to do anything with it," said Cannon.
Carlee says that he thinks Charlotte has a good chance to win federal funds. But if it doesn't, he doesn't recommend the city use its money to move this project forward right now.
If the plan does moves forward, the city has to figure out how to pay for operational costs of the Gold Line. The city manager's office suggested fares, advertising and possible other revenue like tax increment financing districts, special assessment district or municipal service districts.