Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Update: Charlotte needs to get 'act together' for transit tax

Charlotte area legislators told city and town leaders today that if they want the option of asking voters to approve another half-cent sales tax increase for transit, they need to get their act together and ask for it.

“If Mecklenburg County wants to be included in this legislation, we need to hear from the local community, sooner rather than later,” Sen. Malcolm Graham, a Charlotte Democrat, told the local leaders during a meeting at the legislature. “There needs to be consensus.”

Charlotte City Council members and representatives from Mecklenburg municipalities were in Raleigh today, meeting with Mecklenburg County lawmakers.

They discussed a bill that would give Mecklenburg County authority to seek voters' permission to levy another half-cent sales tax for transit.

The bill sponsored by Democratic Rep. Becky Carney passed the House and is in Senate committee.

Click here to read the bill.

Some background:

The City Council deferred a vote Monday on whether to ask the General Assembly to include Mecklenburg in a bill that allows urban counties in the Triad and Triangle to levy a half-cent sales tax for mass transit.

If included in the bill, Mecklenburg County commissioners could ask county voters to approve a second half-cent sales tax for mass transit. Council members said they wanted to wait until after the Raleigh trip today before voting. They plan to address the matter May 11.

Sen. Dan Clodfelter, also a Charlotte Democrat, blocked Mecklenburg's inclusion in the bill partly because he said he wanted a commitment from the Charlotte Area Transit System that it would build light rail down Independence Boulevard. - Mark Johnson and Julia Oliver

Read more about this developing story in tomorrow's Observer.

39 comments:

Becky said...

Don't we already have a half-cent tax for transit?

Anonymous said...

Why did they have to go all the way to Raleigh to discuss this?

Anonymous said...

So let me get this right. If I spend $1,000/month in Mecklenburg on whatever (dining/entertainment/groceries) then it will cost me another $5 towards transit on top of the $5 I have already agreed to. Totaling $10/month or $120/year for transit.

Is this correct ? Is my math right ?

If so, then I am okay with it. If and only if they legally have to build out the light rail north, east and west with a line to the airport and the center city street car line as well. And it all has to be done within my lifetime. Seriously, 10 to 15 years tops and it's all completed.

$120/year is not much to ask from my wallet to help created a fully functioning city. Charlotte is not like all of the large cities in the U.S. that evolved over a few hundred years. We suddenly seemed to explode almost overnight with no early on plan for how to handle the transit issues. Whoever is here in 10 to 15 years will be happy that they decided that mass transit was a good idea for Charlotte. If we don't move forward with this aggressively we will be in total gridlock within a decade. You can only keep adding so many car lanes before you run out of land.

Eventually people need to learn to change their habits and lifestyles to fit their new environment or else relocate to a small town somewhere else. Our planet, countries and cities are always changing and progressing. Get on board with it or set out for a different course of your own. We all have choices, choose wisely.

Anonymous said...

Seems to me that the citizens will have to decide whether they want public transportation in the city. If Charlotte continues to grow then we basically have to do it b/c otherwise we will end up paying a lot more in the future. Either way there will be a group of people who are unhappy, but then again why move to a growing city if you don't want to fund "big city" necessities?

Anonymous said...

^

EXACTLY

Anonymous said...

Why should they leave it at a half cent. If they would go ahead and make it 4 or 5 cents, then it would do 2 things, it would save them from having to go back to Raleigh next year for more and they could build more trains. I wouldn't want the total sales tax in the county to get much over 12 to 15% though, that might put pressure on California to increase theirs to keep ahead of Charlotte.

Anonymous said...

I doubt Cali has even heard of CLT

Anonymous said...

That's true,I bet when Bank of America kept the headquarters here after the BankAmerica acquisition those folks from SFO had to get a map, might be better for CLT if they would go back there where people can find their offices....

Mary said...

I think clean buses can do the job. Light rail and a tax increase aren't needed.

Anonymous said...

I'm all for this. The light rail line has proven an immense success and furthering the lines development should be paramount. Take it out to the airport, university city and lake norman and I think everyone would be happy. To counter the representative in office who is against this because they want the line to go through independence - get off your horse. Independence would not produce the ridership the other lines would and in fact would be a waste of money. Build the train line, expand the cities base and prosperity will follow.

Anonymous said...

Mercy. I don't understand why this even a debate. I think the truth must be that some here just don't like transit and are afraid that the saying "build it and they will come" would turn out to be true. They don't want any more people here. They liked the Charlotte of 1969, not 2009. Here's a thought: don't build it and watch Charlotte slowly die. Then you'll !@#$% and moan that there are no jobs here.

Anonymous said...

Every attractive, growing, important city in America has light or heavy rail of some kind. For whatever cultural reason, buses will never have the same appeal as rail. City council and county commission please grow a spine and get on with it.

Anonymous said...

You'd think that a 71% vote in favor of the transit tax just 18 months ago, even with the bank drama, would indicate a rreservoir of support here for rail ytansit. We have such cowards in office. They're too cowardly to even ask for a tool they may need some day, even if they don't use it immediately.

Anonymous said...

The light rail line has proven an immense success, doing what? Reducing pollution and congestion? Not in any measureable amounts. If you choo choo buffs want to start writing checks to the general fund, pony up. But the fact is the anti sprawl crowd purposely neglect needed road projects. We are the only city of Charlotte size in the country w/o an outer belt. Why? Urban planning.

The Equalizer said...

Yes, we do already have a half-cent tax for light rail...they promised they would not come back for more. This is about principles. If I want something new and shiny and it's not in my budget, I either save or cut my budget somewhere. I don't finance anything other than a mortgage. Unlike many who have posted here, I don't force my neighbor (at the point of a gun) to chip in and help me pay for it. Why don't you "progressives" ever get this?

Anonymous said...

I would be okay with the $0.05 tax increase IF I thought they would spend it wisely, which they have already PROVEN that they CANNOT do! Going $100M over an original budget for light rail is THEIR fault, but again, the leaders of Charlotte have elected to make the taxpayers pay AGAIN for their bad spending habits. That is why I voted against keeping the current tax rate and why I will vote against increasing it again. Until they can prove to me that they can be responsible spenders, then my vote is NO!

Anonymous said...

"We are the only city of Charlotte size in the country w/o an outer belt. Why? Urban planning."

How ridiculous. What year are you living in, 1989? The outer belt is 95% complete and the remaining 5% is not nearly as important as widening I-85 through Cabarrus or even widening I-485 in Pineville. The roads are the state's responsibility and local government has most of the responsibility for the rail system. If you're unhappy with the roads (I am too) your beef is with Raleigh.

Anonymous said...

Even before the economic meltdown, the salestax did not provide the revenue to support the train already built and continue the bus service at the previous levels. So now the powers that be want to build more and tax more. If they get the approval to ask the voters for this I can already see the scare tactics they used last time, threatening property tax hikes and cutting bus services to the poorer areas of town.

Anonymous said...

Furthermore, you're not getting any more roads starting next year because Charlotte is not in compliance with the federal ozone regulations. Until that's fixed (light rail, anyone?) the feds will approve no more road money for your stupid outerbelt.

barkomomma said...

I'm sure those Council members took the train to Raleigh, right?

Didn't think so.

There's a word for that...actually, several.

Anonymous said...

Here we go again. Now I have to listen to the GOP jack offs in CLT complain about the topic of transit yet again and be defeated yet again. This city is going to be covered with light rail within fifteen years so get over it already. Why people argue about transit and yet decide to reside in a "city" is beyond me. In all great cities tens of thousands use transit daily. Charlotte needs to shed this Mayberry mentality once and for all.

Oh wait, they have been shedding it, 71% in favor last time around.

Anonymous said...

Conservatives= taxes spent only on what I want and what I need and screw the rest of the residents. Even if 71% vote for what I don't want. It doesn't matter. I am always right, I am the Conservative.

These Tools are finished. They are driving the final nails in their coffins. This country is finally pulling away from almost a decade of decay under this exact mentality.

Larry said...

An earlier post said they did not mind paying the extra money each month for the new rail line.

I just love how people look at things in a vacuum.

The fact is all the toys put together adds up to a lot of tax money, and if you have read the book the tipping point you will see we are very close to it in this county and country.

The elected officials know if they already have it crammed down your throat they can then make is easier to cram even more. Where therefore is the incentive to economize or to quit getting more toys?

Just as was done with credit in this country, we have been sold that it only cost this much each month when we should have been looking at what it would cost us in the end.

No longer will we hope they do well with our tax money from now on we will demand they show us exactly what they will do with our tax money.

Anonymous said...

Larry, are you that Cable Guy ?

Trenchard Gordon said...

The problem I have with additional tax is it's progressiveness. At most, would about 5% of commuters ride the light rail? The fares they pay do not even pick up the operating costs much less the construction i.e. a massive subsidy to rail riders that the 95%of the non-riding populace wind up paying. This scheme is even more egregious than the income tax system where a small group pay most and upwards of 40% of the bottom brackets don't pay anything.

Anonymous said...

There's no scheme. It's simple, they are doing the right thing by expanding transit. if the rail and bus lines were made to where it was a breeze to get around town the ridership would be much more than the 5% that you suggest.

Currently most of the people who use the LYNX are those who trek along the S. Blvd corridor and close proximity to uptown areas. That's because it's only one tiny line. Once you get all of the line connected the system will be fantastic just as they are in other great cities. Then it will be easy to get just about anywhere you need to go without a car. But give them a break, it's only the first line. You have to start somewhere. Air pollution will get better once the entire rail/bus system is completed.

What other choice do we have ? The pollution levels are already ridiculous from all of the autos. It's called planning ahead and planning correctly.

Kudos off to them, they just need to get it done faster.

Change your attitude. I sold my car three years ago and have been relying on bus and Lynx and my feet and I've been fine. Actually dropped 10 pounds from the little bit of walking I do to and from stops. Park the car when you can Charlotte. Do it for me, you and do it for your children. Unless of course you don't care about the quality of air they breathe ?

Anonymous said...

I say privatize some roads like Indiana did ( 77 needs it bad ) and get the Raleigh leeches out of it.

And anon 5:52, nowhere is there any reduction in congestion or pollution because of light rail. The top polluters and congested areas all have rail. Nice try but you are living in a dream utopia.

Anonymous said...

Dumbass 6:31 PM,

What you idiots always fail to understand is simple math. If the 20,000 people that ride light rail today were on the road in 20,000 more autos then YES there is an automatic increase in pollution.

Now, say it's 15 or 20 years from now and we have a completed rail system with buses servicing it we could be looking at an easy 75,000 people a day riding it.

Please tell me how 70,000 less autos on the roads equals no reduction in pollution. And don't give me the crap about there will be more people here and more cars anyway. It doesn't matter, if you pull "x" amount of people off the road everyday you are putting less pollution into the air.

Wake up.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:31 PM,

So what you are saying is that if the top polluters, say NYC, scrapped all of their buses, light and heavy rail and subways and made everyone drive their own cars that NYC would then have the same exact amount of pollution as it does now ? You wouldn't be able to open your window it would be so polluted !

You are a Tool.

Bill Anderson said...

No new taxes. There's my half cent's worth.

barkomomma said...

And the electric train runs on that stuff from that clean coal- burning non-polluting power plant called Cliffside?

Check.

Anonymous said...

As well as our nuclear power plants.

I am sure that the amount of coal pollution it takes to propel a couple dozen trains is miniscule compared to the amount of pollution that 50,000 tail pipes produce.

Nice Try

Anonymous said...

Actually, if you took away their trains in NYC, there would not be any great increase in polution, because the city would grind to a halt. Have you ever driven in Manhattan? Have you ever tried to find a place to park? Now add a million more cars a day...
5.2 MILLION people ride the subway every weekday. Then there is the LIRR.

Rick said...

So let me get this through my thick scull, we're being asked by the same group of politicians who lied to the public 2 years ago, to trust them with even more money? Is that what's going on here? And the train supporters are actually pretending that didn't happen? Is that what we're really supposed to believe?

I bet they even think the BPC will go along again because they bought the lies about the streetcar and bus service being protected if the existing tax was kept. They think this even though the streetcar can't be legally moved up in priority and paid for with transit tax funds unless the MTC approves it. They buy this even though bus service has experienced some serious cuts - all while they keep the trains running and are talking about build more to the wealthy white suburbs.

They also probably think that with schools suffering, long-term unfunded CMPD requests, and $12 billion in road needs, that the public will happily go along with this scheme.

You know what? I think the pro-train people are right. They've proven time and time again that they can get away with these things. Why should we think otherwise now?

Look at who we elect.

Becky said...

Here's a news flash... city leaders need to tighten their belts and pay for what the city needs with the money they already have. I don't argue with the fact that Charlotte needs a better mass transit system. But I think city government needs to drop their pet projects and money-wasters and use the money they are entrusted with wisely and in the best interest of all of us.
When my income drops, or I need a new expensive item, I go without or trim luxuries so I can afford what I need. Same should hold true for government.

LNBruno said...

I agree we need a better transit system. I don't agree that rail is the best use of limited funds. I also don't agree a better transit system should be considered a top priority.

And there's my half-cent's worth.

JAT said...

What kills me is that the mere act of asking for another half-cent critically wounds the chances that the Triad and Triangle can sell THEIR voters on the idea.

They cannot say, "Look at all the wunnerful things Charlotte did with a half-cent."

The secret is out, you need a full-penny to $7-8-9-10b. worth of trains.

The Equalizer said...

All of you Euro green wannabees...are you willing to pay a fare that actually covers the operating expenses of these? You're currently paying a round trip fare of $3.00.

Would you pay $7.00 or are you only willing to ride if your fare is subsidized by the 95% of those who don't ride?

Of course at $7.00 ridership would fall making a nother rate hike necessary.

You're pathetic parasites...just admit the truth and go back to sipping your latte in your erudite little snowglobe of a world.

Adam said...

Here's an idea: build however much transit is needed, hold nothing back. Just, you know...charge whatever is necessary per ticket to fund the cost. I have no grudge against public transit, but it's asinine for people to be forced to fund it that have no use for it. If YOU want it, YOU pay for it every time you buy a ticket, just like taxis, air travel, food, clothing, housing, and every other necessity. I can't for the life of me understand why so many people balk at the idea of paying for the services they want out of their own pockets. If I can pay for my gas, you can pay for your train ticket.