Charlotte budget battle fueling secession talk?


The Charlotte city manager publicly described the city as being “in decline.”  He publicly talked about how a small portion of the city is funding everyone else.  Residents were told the city needs more revenue so it can spark some development and turn things around.

Mayor Anthony Foxx and the manager put a budget forward to the Democrat dominated city council calling for property tax increases and all kinds of new capital expenditures.  The council has balked twice.  A June 30 deadline for a new budget is looming, and no settlement is in sight.

Mecklenburg County commissioner Bill James — a conservative stalwart never at a loss for words — has a solution to deal with the trauma and turmoil in Queen City government:

These days folks in Southern Mecklenburg (not in the three Southern Towns) have been pushing to form a new town (sometimes called the proposed ‘Town of Ballantyne’ or the ‘Town of Providence’). Now, they have some more ammo.

Charlotte’s Mayor (Anthony Foxx) said in 2009 that he wouldn’t raise taxes for the streetcar, a major uptown boondoggle of the highest order. Of course, that was then and this is now. Then the street car was to be funded by the the County-wide ‘transit tax’. Then reality set in and the CATS/MTC board nixed that.

Left without a funding source other than property taxes, the Mayor and City management turned to property taxes. What he was against, he is now in favor (though he doesn’t want to actually say so).

Some of the City Council Democrats actually think raising taxes ‘too much’ might actually hurt them this fall (and the two lone GOP seem to think raising taxes a little is OK for reasons I can’t fathom).

So, after a massive tax increase was proposed a ‘compromise’ was outlined to ‘only’ increase taxes 2.44 cents. The City Council and Mayor must think P.T. Barnum was right.

Only among urban elites would a tax increase of 2.44 cents during a massive recession following a screwed-up revaluation be the ‘compromise’ position. To add insult to injury, they justified the city tax increase citing the paltry county tax decrease of the same amount (as though one offsets the other).

The County’s tax decrease should have been 10 cents but at least it wasn’t going the wrong direction. And last year the County had a massive tax revenue increase. Had we been following the ‘offset’ rule then – the city would have had to cut their tax rate significantly (about 8 cents I think).

So, ultimately what is bad news for taxpayers should be good news for those pushing for a Town of Ballantyne (of which I am one). It seems clear that the people in Southern Mecklenburg have absolutely zero input into the budget (except to write the check).

The Mayor is breaking his campaign promise because he has to. There is no transit money for a street car, he gave away the tourism tax for ‘baseball’ so you are expected to foot the bill.

I am glad I live in one of the Towns.  Now, if we just use this to get the legislature to let these folks in Southern Mecklenburg govern themselves, Charlotte can be left to its own proliferate spendthrift ways.