Mayor Foxx offers to cut streetcar to pass capital plan

Mayor Foxx offers to cut streetcar to pass capital plan

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by STEVE HARRISON / The Charlotte Observer

WCNC.com

Posted on December 10, 2012 at 6:44 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 29 at 11:00 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- In an effort to break a six-month stalemate over the city’s capital budget, Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx proposed Monday two new spending plans, including a proposal that eliminates $119 million for a streetcar.

Foxx is one of the biggest champions of the streetcar, arguing that it will spark economic development on the city’s distressed east and west sides. But after an unsuccessful push to find a City Council majority to back it, the mayor appears willing to part with the streetcar, for now.

Foxx’s first proposal — which cuts the streetcar — would raise the property tax rate by 1.97 cents for ever $100 of taxable value. It would allow the city to spend $463.4 million through 2016.

City Manager Curt Walton had first proposed spending $926 million through the end of the decade.

Foxx, a Democrat, said that proposal is a “bare-bones effort.”

“It cuts the City Manager’s recommendation in half, and it reduces the property tax increase by almost half,” Foxx said.

That spending plan includes $120.5 million for six new police stations and a new joint communications center for 911 and 311 calls; $45 million for sidewalks and pedestrian safety projects; $51.4 million for affordable housing; $75 million for neighborhood improvements; $43 million for road improvements west of Charlotte/Douglas Airport to take advantage of the new intermodal rail yard under construction by Norfolk-Southern.

The first proposal cuts many of what Foxx calls “economic catalyst” projects that Walton created. The idea behind the Capital Improvement Program was to invest in some of the city’s poorest areas to create new investment.

The second budget is more expansive.

It would raise the property tax rate by 3 cents and would raise $803.8 million for projects. The streetcar remains, along with $35 million for a 26-mile multi-use trail across the city.

The City Council is meeting Monday evening. It’s unclear what council members think of the two proposals.

Click here to read Mayor Foxx's Letter to the Council (PDF)

Click here to read Proposal 1, a $1.97 proposal that removes the streetcar and several other projects (PDF)

Click here to read Proposal 2, a $.03 proposal (PDF)

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