The Queen City will be playing a key role in North Carolina politics this year. Pat McCrory, Charlotte’s former, mayor is the leading GOP contender for governor of North Carolina. He is basing a lot of his campaign on his stewardship of the city. Barry Obama and his DC crew are hosting their convention in Charlotte in September. So, Mecklenburg’s county seat will spend a lot of time in the spotlight.
Recently, Charlotte’s city manager has described his city as being “in decline.” The John Locke Foundation has regularly ranked Charlotte as the highest taxed city in the state (including years that overlap McCrory’s time in office).
Now, local Charlotte media are reporting that The NASCAR Hall of Fame — financed primarily with tax dollars and wholeheartedly supported by McCrory and former Gov. Mike Easley — is in the hole for 2012 to the tune of $619,000. (We’ve got eight more months to go.)
I picked up some data from a General Assembly source (GOP) detailing The Queen City’s debt load:
CHARLOTTE CITY DEBT
As of February 22, 2012
Airport $860,095,000 (20%)
Municipal (GO Bonds, Equip/Facilities COPS/NASCAR,ConvCntr,Tourism) $1,386,829,543 (33%)
Transit $162,770,000 (4%)
Storm Water $128,261,616 (3%)
Water & Sewer $1,702,088,293 (40%)
Grand Total $4,240,044,752
Charlotte is also preparing to launch a major rebuilding and expansion project for a light rail commuter rail project — supported by former mayor McCrory as well as the current Foxx administration. A CATO Institute analyst issued a report on the project describing it as having no benefit for anyone other than the contractors building the project.
Charlotte’s burgeoning debt and economic problems present a great backdrop for Barry Obama as he seeks renomination for four more years of managing America’s decline. But here is an important question for Pat McCrory and the NCGOP: Is Charlotte the kind of model you want to present as “the future” for North Carolina?