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Leaders to resume work on speedway incentives

Concord and Cabarrus County leaders plan to meet Tuesday to work on formalizing their $80million incentives deal for billionaire racetrack owner Bruton Smith.

Last November, they reached the deal in exchange for Smith agreeing to keep Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord.

Smith had threatened to move the facility following a dispute with Concord over his plans to build a drag strip at the track. After the threat, the city quickly reversed course. Smith is now building the $60 million drag strip and proceeding with a $200million expansion of the speedway.

The city and county will meet in closed session to discuss such details as the structure of the incentives, their revenue sources, project lists and legal issues, City Manager Brian Hiatt and County Manager John Day said.

The boards expect to hold public hearings on the plan before voting on it. Incentives will cover road improvements around the track as well as noise abatement at the drag strip.

One project the city continues to talk to the state about is moving up the start date for an extension of the George W. Liles Parkway, Hiatt said.

Local officials have previously discussed a range of ways to help pay for the package, including asking the legislature for approval to raise the local sales tax rate. But that's not an easy task, especially during an election year.

Other choices that have been mentioned involved cutting their budgets, awarding grants and even raising property taxes.

In a letter to Smith last November, the city and county said they would try to obtain $20 million from the state over three years to help pay for the package. But state officials have said they've made it clear there is no additional money available now.

Concord and Cabarrus told Smith they would pay the entire $80 million if they don't get funds from Raleigh.

The two groups had initially sent Smith a letter in November stating they would pay $60 million in incentives, but Smith rejected that proposal.

The drag strip is expected to open on time in September to host a National Hot Rod Association event.

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