Hey, Charlotte: How about some more tax with that burger and fries?

food taxThe Carolina Panthers are a very, very very bad football team.  Their owner, Jerry Richardson, is a very, very, very wealthy and very, very, very connected man.  Charlotte is a very, very, very overtaxed community.  In fact, its city manager described the city as being “in decline.”

Jerry Richardson, the owner of the Panthers, wants $125 million to pay for renovations to Bank of America Stadium — which, by the way, he also owns.  Monday night, he made a behind-closed-doors pitch to the Charlotte City Council for the money.  There has been some suggestion that  Charlotte mayor Gov. Pat, state House Speaker Thom Tillis and other Charlotte area legislators would push for state funding for the stadium renovations.  

It appears that Richardson’s late Monday night appeal to Queen City leaders worked.  The council tentatively approved an increase in the food tax to raise money for the stadium renovations.  The proposal now goes to Raleigh for approval by the leaders of “the conservative revolution” — a/k/a  Gov. Pat and the General Assembly majority.   Richardson told the council he plans to go to the state for about $75 million of the needed renovation funding. 

DC just raised the payroll tax, so everyone is seeing smaller paychecks here at the dawn of the new year.  Raleigh is talking about increasing the unemployment insurance tax, so that would mean another larger chunk coming out of people’s paychecks.  Congress let the Bush era tax rates expire, so we’re all getting a tax increase.  We still have record unemployment.  The state is billions in debt to the federal government.  Gov. Pat is talking about financing a multi-million dollar light rail system for the Raleigh area as well.  

Raising the food tax will make it more expensive to eat out in Charlotte.  It will also make it more expensive for restaurant owners to employ those folks Mayor Redd Foxx and President Barry claim to care so much about.  WHY ON EARTH would any true conservative, right-minded leader support something like this at a time like this?  Why ask North Carolina’s working people to sacrifice even further to benefit a near-billionaire stadium and team owner, and his multi-millionaire employees?  I would think you could pass the plate in the Panthers locker room and come up with the $125 million rather easily.

Don’t buy into the argument that the Panthers might leave.  Richardson owns Bank of America stadium.  Going somewhere else would leave him with a HUGE expense for a large, unused stadium facility in Charlotte.  Selling a residence is one thing.  Selling a 77,000 square foot football stadium is a whole other ball of wax. 

I came across a letter written about this subject, written by former Charlotte councilman Don Reid, and sent to Senator Bob Rucho, chairman of the state Senate Finance Committee:


The taxpayers of Charlotte are counting on you to lead the fight against a new tax for Panther stadium improvements.  Everything about this initiative is wrong, beginning with the closed door meeting with police protection and the disregard for the plight of Charlotte citizens who are already the highest taxed in the State.  This is definitely a Republican issue, and thanks in a large part to your efforts,  we have a Republican controlled legislature to protect us from our big spending, Democrat controlled city council plus  Andy Dulin!

As you well know, Charlotte’s citizens are facing new transit taxes and new property taxes for infrastructure and there are failing, taxpayer funded entertainment venues that are sucking the life out of our town—NASCAR Museum, Whitewater and even our Convention Center and a hotel, partially funded by our taxes.  In the name of justice and commonsense, you cannot allow these irresponsible Democrats to give $125 million to a very successful sports enterprise.

Thank you for what you and the Republican majority are doing to correct 100 years of Democrat corruption at the state level.  You were also given the authority to prevent cities and counties from burdening their citizens with new taxes—taxes that will be used to fund a football stadium for private, wealthy owners, who are quite capable of paying the bill themselves.  Many of us believe that giving incentives to private businesses is not a proper role for government.  And even if you disagree, surely the economic crisis, our unemployment, our unfunded government liabilities and sorely needed infrastructure improvements, would dictate spending our funds on the needs of the people, and that certainly would not include more entertainment.

Best regards,