Campaigns ramp up rhetoric ahead of vote on Mecklenburg County sales-tax hike

Campaigns ramp up rhetoric ahead of vote on Mecklenburg County sales-tax hike

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — Mecklenburg County commissioners anticipate making a final decision Tuesday about revamping the Arts & Science Council board and how it's governed as part of the run-up to a proposed sales tax increase. On Nov. 5, voters will decide whether local sales taxes go up by a quarter-cent — a tax hike worth $50 million per year.

ASC pitched the tax as a way to stabilize its funding to distribute grants to arts and cultural groups, citing a steady decline in donations. Commissioners eventually agreed to put the matter before voters as part of a quarter-cent increase that would be divided between arts and culture (45%), parks and greenways (34%), education (16%) and the adjacent towns (5%) outside of Charlotte but within the county.

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The latter, totaling $2.5 million, could be used for arts or parks in Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, Matthews, Mint Hill, and Pineville.

Annual funding generated by the tax would be $22.5 million for arts, $17 million for parks and greenways, and $8 million for supplemental teacher pay.

State lawmakers in 2007 granted every county a one-time option to increase sales taxes by a quarter-cent. To do so, voters must approve the measure as part of a referendum, and ballot language is limited to a yes or no choice on whether a tax hike is favored.

A month before Election Day, supporters and opponents are ramping up their rhetoric. Early voting begins Oct. 16.

Read more about each group's message here.