A town hall meeting expected to focus largely on the upcoming Democratic National Convention turned out to be one of Mayor Anthony Foxx’s strongest public endorsements of the city’s defeated capital-improvement plan to date.
Speaking Wednesday night at Johnson C. Smith University – a centerpiece of the Beatties Ford Road corridor that would benefit directly from the plan – Foxx said the $926 million list of citywide improvements justified the 8 percent property tax increase needed to pay for it.
The Charlotte City Council surprised many, including the mayor, when it voted 6-5 on June 11 to kill the plan. Foxx reacted angrily to the vote, which came despite the mayor’s fellow Democrats holding a 9-2 majority on council.
Foxx had earlier vetoed a compromise improvement plan that would have stripped away a controversial $119 million streetcar extension that would have served JCSU and Beatties Ford Road.
The original plan also included new police stations, traffic improvements and major investment in lagging neighborhoods. Council talks on the plan are expected to resume in the fall.
Speaking before a friendly crowd of about 100 people at Wednesday’s town hall, Foxx said the plan is in keeping with the city’s tradition of taking bold steps to invest in its future.
When asked by JCSU President Ron Carter what residents can do on behalf of the streetcar, Foxx said, “The City Council members need to hear from you.”
“When you elected me, you elected me to represent the entire city,” Foxx said. “I’m going to fight for the entire city. But the city has to fight for itself.”
Audience member Kristy Womack called the list of projects impressive but questioned whether they justified a tax increase “when so many people are really struggling.”
In response, Foxx said the challenge to the council is that both sides are right. Taxes are too high, he said, but the projects are still needed.
“I know these are tough choices. I’m not out here telling you that life is beautiful for everyone,” he said. “I’m telling you it’s a hard road if we invest or don’t invest. I am saying the road will be tougher without.”
Foxx was also joined by Police Chief Rodney Monroe and other city staffers to update the audience on the convention, which Foxx predicted would be a success and a major turning point for Charlotte.
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