Supporters of a Charlotte bonds referendum have fretted in recent months that it might get tangled in the controversy surrounding another referendum on the November ballot, the Mecklenburg County sales tax hike. We hope that’s not the case.
The $146 million bond referendum, approved by the Charlotte City Council in July, is a responsible investment in the city’s infrastructure and communities. The plan’s specifics: $110 million of the bonds would go toward transportation projects, with $20 million dedicated to infrastructure in both established and emerging neighborhoods. An additional $15 million will improve and expand affordable housing.
The bonds would have no effect on the tax rate.
Those investments will help struggling communities across the city, including east Charlotte and the area around Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Projects also will provide significant upgrades to roads and connectivity in the University Area, which seems primed to boom with the impending arrival of light rail.
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Bonds money also will go toward sidewalk and pedestrian safety, as well as the exciting Cross Charlotte Multi-Use Trail, which ultimately will connect Mecklenburg County’s greenways from Cabarrus County to York County. When completed, the 30-mile urban trail will be a gem for Charlotteans to appreciate and recruiters to sell.
No less important is the $15 million for the Charlotte Housing Trust Fund, which uses public and private dollars to provide affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families and encourage homeownership in targeted neighborhoods.
We do share the concern of City Council member Ed Driggs, who worries that the bonds package leaves the city with little capacity to address additional projects that might come up down the road. Council members have a troubling tendency to spend the money in front of them instead of tucking some away for items that become urgent later.
But Driggs understands, and we agree, that the bonds package is not the place to make a stand for fiscal restraint. Charlotte voters have a history of appreciating the value of reinvesting in our city. It’s good for our communities, and it sends a strong message to corporations that might consider relocating here. We recommend voting yes for the bonds referendum.