CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charlotte City Council members hammered Governor Pat McCrory for what they say is a threat to pull future funding for the Lynx Light Rail Line, because McCrory doesn't agree with how the city wants to fund a streetcar through uptown.
The controversy stems from a confidential memo sent from the Charlotte city Attorney and Deputy City Manager to Council Members after a meeting with McCrory last week in Raleigh.
"Separate from the discussion of the proposed stadium project, the Governor referenced the streetcar project in a way that made it clear that while he has supported MTC transit projects funded from the dedicated transit sales tax,” the memo reads.
“He continues to have problems with the proposed property tax-funded streetcar project. He said to us that if the streetcar project were to go forward as currently proposed, future State funding for the Blue Line Extension could be at risk," of the memo continues.
That memo led to words like “disturbing”, “bullying” and “unacceptable” from city leaders.
They say it appears Governor McCrory drew a line in the sand over the two projects.
The city needs $250 million from the state to make the light rail line expansion possible. That would account for 25% of the cost.
The City Council is looking for ways to raise $119 million for a streetcar running east-west through uptown.
The Council agreed to take on the cost of the streetcar after a dedicated transit sales tax didn't have enough money to pay for it.
"I feel like this is a version of the Showtime series "Boss", said Charlotte City Council Member LaWana Mayfield, who supports the streetcar project.
"Honestly, I'm disturbed," she said.
Mayfield says she interprets the memo as though McCrory is trying to intimidate and bully to get what he wants.
"I'm seeing someone that doesn't really recognize what role he has now. Do you still want to be the mayor of the city of Charlotte, or are you interested in growing the entire state?" she said.
Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx told our news partners at the Charlotte Observer it's a threat and he is upset.
"This memo certainly confirms a threat that's been hanging out there in the shadows for several months," Foxx told the Observer.
Not a threat, but a reality check is how fellow Council Member Andy Dulin describes the memo and its meaning.
Dulin, who opposes the streetcar, says McCrory is being financially responsible because the city is telling the Governor it can find millions for a streetcar, so why not light rail.
"If you want to go spend and raise taxes on the City of Charlotte and spend $119 million on a streetcar line that is out of line of the sequence of transportation issues, then maybe you don't need $250 million of state money for the blue line extension," said Dulin.
Senator Malcolm Graham says the state already agreed to fund 25 percent of the blue line expansion, they're not going back on their word, and that McCrory seems to be learning the ropes of his new office.
"This is really a stumble on his part," Graham said.
"It's extremely disappointing to hear the Governor basically threaten local officials about state funding for the blue line, that has nothing to do with the blue line. It's unprecedented."
Governor McCrory's spokesperson issued this statement late Thursday night:
"During these tough budget times, the Governor has continually informed leaders in Charlotte that the streetcar makes it more difficult each continuing budget cycle to get support in the legislature for continued matching funds of the light rail line when the city is exhibiting that they have additional money for other projects outside the approved process through the MTC."
It goes on to say Governor McCrory is a strong supporter of the light rail line, and that support will continue.
The city is still looking at funding scenarios to pay for the $119 million dollar streetcar expansion, after it was removed from a capital improvement budget last year.