Charlotte Considers Doubling Tax to Fund Transit

Mecklenburg County commissioners are scheduled to debate whether to add a second half-cent sales tax to fund transit in the Charlotte area.
April 25, 2009, 1pm PDT | Nate Berg
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"Commissioners may petition the N.C. General Assembly to allow Mecklenburg to levy an additional half-cent sales tax on top of the current 7.25 cents on every dollar. A bill approved by the House this week would allow several urban N.C. counties – but not Mecklenburg – to seek a transit tax.

"I may not vote to put it on the ballot (for voter approval), but why would we take away our option?" said commissioners Chairman Jennifer Roberts, a Democrat who placed the item on next week's agenda.

CATS said Wednesday its latest cost estimates on two proposed rail lines are favorable, and that both can be built. The problem, CATS said, is that it doesn't have enough money to build them both at the same time, as originally planned.

CATS is trying to build an 11-mile light-rail extension to University City and a 25-mile commuter rail line to the Lake Norman area. The commuter train is "shovel ready" and will likely cost $375 million. The Lynx Blue Line extension is at least two years away from construction and could cost as much as $1.12 billion.

If CATS receives federal stimulus dollars for the commuter train, it could build both trains early next decade. If the economy roars back, and sales tax revenue surges, CATS might have enough money to do both."

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Published on Friday, April 24, 2009 in The Charlotte Observer
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