Friday, October 31, 2014

Vote 'Yes' for what?

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 11:31 AM

If you're one of those registered to vote inside Charlotte’s city limits who hasn’t taken advantage of the early voting period, and so, to whom a last-minute appeal might make a difference, there are more than a few people who work with the City Council and the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce who want to get your attention long enough to urge you to vote in favor of the three Bond proposals on the ballot.

And no — they’re not talking about the issue that stirred up a lot of controversy over the past few months: the proposal to raise the local sales-tax a quarter-cent to increase salaries for local teachers and fund some other budgetary needs, like area arts groups. In fact, that’s part of the problem they’re most worried about. That, if you’re aware at all that there are ballot measures to be considered, you’ll think it’s that one.

It’s not.

To refresh everyone’s memory, the sales-tax proposal is on the ballot courtesy of a narrowly divided June vote of the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners, which set off a firestorm resulting in frayed relationships between what might have otherwise been considered to be political allies, and evolved into several attempts to kill it at the state level in the General Assembly over the summer. The proposal survived — barely. Whether or not it can pass muster with the voters is assumed to be a toss-up, at best.

The City’s Bonds are on the ballot in stark contrast to the manner in which the Commission’s sales-tax measure got there — and without most of the discord and rancor. Where the Commission’s proposal seemed to come almost out of nowhere, with a main criticism being that there was little prior consultation done with those most affected and those who should be most involved in the process before a vote was taken, the Council’s Bond measures have been in the works for more than two years. They've gone through a series of systematic evaluations in regard to their needs and how they would be budgeted. The fear now is that the anger and political resistance focused around the sales-tax has resulted in a confused electorate that will reject everything in a kind of “a pox on all your houses” backhand slap, a knee-jerk reaction against anything that smacks of a tax increase, even though the Bonds have been so worked into the overall City budget that they will not result in your taxes going up at all.

One of the biggest problems is that most voters don’t seem to know that there are City Bonds on the ballot at all, let alone what they’re for or what they would do. That’s particularly frustrating to those charged with helping to get them passed. Elizabeth Barnhardt, through her work with the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, is the campaign coordinator for the “Vote Yes For Bonds” drive. Barnhardt highlighted a few points for me for the three measures, which focus on streets, neighborhoods and housing.

The $150 million allocated for streets would go for seriously needed road and intersection upgrades throughout town, along with bike paths and extensions, and would include the development of an extremely progressive, multi-use, cross-county greenway trail. The upgrades would eventually join together what already exists here into one system spanning more than 30 miles of Mecklenburg County, from York to Cabarrus. $15 million would go to increasing low-income housing resources, not just through governmental agencies but also through public-private partnerships, that would help address the growing need for affordable living quarters here. And $32 million would go toward neighborhood improvements for some older areas of town that were developed long before certain “amenities,” such as sidewalks, were considered as “standards.”

Barnhardt is hoping people will recognize the difference between the two sets of proposals, not just in what they would do, but in the way they were developed and in the impact they’ll have on your taxes. She wants you to hear, loudly and clearly, that the City Bonds will NOT cause your tax rate to increase.

But time is running out, and in the clouds of dust that have been thrown up as a result of more than $100 million being spent on attack ads in the Senate race alone, it’s not surprising that something as arcane as the merits of a Bond measure might be getting lost.

If you want to explore the Bonds a bit more for yourself before heading out to cast your vote, the Chamber-sponsored website is:

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Pin It
Submit to Reddit

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Creative Loafing encourages a healthy discussion on its website from all sides of the conversation, but we reserve the right to delete any comments that detract from that. Violence, racism and personal attacks that go beyond the pale will not be tolerated.

Search Events
items in Creative Loafing Charlotte More in Creative Loafing Charlotte pool

© 2019 Womack Digital, LLC
Powered by Foundation