It’s never too late to come to your senses.
The Charlotte City Council has done just that, putting the brakes on a big property-tax boost earmarked for various improvements. There’s still a week to go before a budget must be hatched, and insanity can still return to its throne, but for the moment the metropolis seems safe from a tax tsunami in the 8 percent range.
Nearly a billion dollars is needed for various projects, many of them necessary and desirable. It costs money to run a city and more money to keep it up to date. Things wear out. Neighborhoods deteriorate. Roads need work. Much of what City Manager Curt Walton has proposed is reasonable and necessary.
Then there’s the streetcar.
Can we just budget a couple hundred dollars to dig a hole, then put the streetcar in it?
A streetcar is already planned to run 1 1/2 miles from the uptown transit center down Elizabeth Avenue where tracks are already built, to Presbyterian Hospital.
Now on the city’s wish list is $119 million to extend the streetcar from the transit center to Johnson C. Smith University. That’s about 10 percent of the pile of money needed for the overall city improvement plan.
I may be hanging out with the wrong crowd, but one thing I never hear anyone say is that they’re dying to ride a pricey streetcar along a route already served by a bus.
I am a big fan of public transit in general and the Charlotte Area Transit System in particular. Like the rest of us, CATS has its good days and its bad, but overall I find it clean, efficient and friendly. We’re lucky to have it.
One of the remarkable things about CATS is a service offered in the center city called the Gold Rush. These goofy-looking buses dressed up to look like trolleys beetle up and down the main thoroughfares on weekdays carrying people around uptown.
For free. That’s a good deal.
For those of you who don’t get out much, one of the Gold Rush routes runs from the transit center to Johnson C. Smith University. That’s exactly where the streetcar extension is supposed to go at a cost of $119 million.
Paging Stephen Hawking … Is that a good deal?
No, and that’s why today we’re celebrating the summer solstice by hugging a Druid and toasting the city council.
And afterward, we’re digging a hole.