City Smart: Toll lane drama to Princess Charlotte

City Smart: Toll lane drama to Princess Charlotte
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3 Important Things

  • State budget surplus leads to lower corporate tax rate. The state reaped nearly $400 million more from taxpayers this year than revenue projections originally predicted.  Since revenue projections were met (exceeded) the corporate tax rate will drop to 4% next year under the tax reform law enacted in 2013. A 4% rate results in $109 million less to the state. That’s the equivalent to what Gov. McCrory proposes to budget for spending on textbooks and supplies for public schools. It’s debatable whether the cuts are good for creating jobs or bad for the middle class.
  • Meanwhile, in Charlotte Budget news…Charlotte is dealing with $18.1 million less in revenue this year because the General Assembly eliminated the business privilege license tax. City Manager Ron Carlee’s proposals to bridge the revenue gap include raising storm water fees for some, closing the 311 call center on weekends, reducing the street paving budget, and raising property taxes (but cutting garbage collection fees so net outlay of cash winds up even in the end for most). Surprisingly, no one really complained about the property tax hike at Monday night’s public hearing during the Council Meeting. In fact, so few people spoke on the budget that Councilwoman LaWanna Mayfield remarked on the surprising lack of public interest.

charlotte-budget-cuts

  • Can’t compete with tolls. Uh oh. Someone read the fine print of the I-77 toll lane project contract between NC Department of Transportation (“DOT”) and I-77 Mobility Partners. The fine print really isn’t great for taxpayers or locals, and has angered a lot of local officials who say it wasn’t in previous versions of the contract. It contains a 50 year non-compete – the DOT can’t widen the interstate between exits 28 and 36 and add more free travel lanes (without compensating I-77 Mobility Partners). DOT can add toll lanes, but I-77 Mobility Partners will have the exclusive right to manage them.  For 50 years. (For those of you who don’t actually ever leave our fair city, you should know – traffic sucks between exits 28 and 36. All. The. Time. More lanes are an inevitability – Mobility Partners can take that to the bank, and it sounds like they will.)

2 Happy Things

  • We think that people being civil to one another in politics is always a good thing–whether because what they are saying is true, or because it’s funny watching them try to be genuine.  Check out Charlotte mayoral candidates saying nice things about each other (or at least trying). You be the judge.

1 Random Thing

  • For those of you living under a rock, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Will and Kate) decided to name their new daughter Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. Personally, we think that little Charlotte should come here and hang out at Earl’s, the Creamery, or any of the other fine Elizabeth establishments, that way she can be located in two of her three names at the same time.  In case you were unaware, the QC was named after Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III of England when it was founded back in 1768.
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