An even closer look at Mecklenburg County’s proposed sales tax hike

JLF Vice President for Research and Director of Education Studies Terry Stoops posted earlier today on Mecklenburg County’s proposed quarter-cent sales tax hike, noting that it’s being promoted as “for the children” even though only 16 percent of the revenue would go to education directly.

A closer look at the sales tax hike in today’s Charlotte Observer reveals questions about where the true wants needs lie. As it stands now, the outlay is 45% for arts and culture, 34% for parks and greenways, 16% for education and 5% for towns to spend on arts or parks. Everybody’s for the arts, right? But scroll down the article and you’ll note an interesting quote from county commissioner Elaine Powell:

Powell said she won’t publicly support or oppose the referendum vote, but questions the 45% share of revenue for arts and culture when she said parks are “desperate” for money.

“In the 30 years I’ve been engaged in the community, and I’m a really good listener, I have never seen that listed to be a top priority,” she said. “How did (arts) become such a huge priority that it took that large a chunk? It will be up to the voters to decide.”

Meanwhile tax hike boosters are panicking over the amount of land that would be available for parks and greenways, considering developers “developers are buying it faster than we are.” Making things even more interesting is the comments from an immigrant advocate:

Banu Valladares, executive director of the Charlotte Bilingual Preschool, told commissioners that more education and arts funding, provided by the sales tax increase, would help give immigrants a sense of belonging in their new neighborhoods. More parks, she added, would make them healthier.

“Our communities are afraid to get out,” Valladares said. “Some of them can’t drive, and if you’ve got parks in your neighborhood and opportunities through parks to get out and do things, you actually can get healthier. Our children are not moving as much as they need to.”

Then you have another set of voices–check the comments beneath the Observer article–who are saying screw ’em all. Somehow I think that will be prevailing sentiment when it’s all said and. And believe you me–there is a lot more to be said.

Sam Hieb / Contributing Editor

Sam Hieb is freelance journalist from Greensboro, North Carolina. He is a contributing editor for Carolina Journal and for Piedmont Publius, a blog that focuses on political a...

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