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Is it time to ask for a property tax increase to build transit faster?

Is it time to ask for a property tax increase to build transit faster?   56 members have voted

  1. 1. Is it time to ask for a property tax increase to build transit faster?

    • No - Taxes are too high here
      34
    • Yes - City should invest in transit
      22

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39 posts in this topic

Given the recent success of the transit tax vote, and the good will and excitement that is being generated right now by the opening of the Lynx, is it time and should Charlotte ask for a city property tax increase to generate funds to build the the next phase of the Blue Line much faster? The big hold up of any extensions in this county is the lack of capital money to further expand the system. And that funding is highly dependent upon the state and federal government ponying up significant portions, 75%, of the cost to build more rail transit in the county. IMO, federal funding for transit is very problematic these days given the huge amount of national debt that has been run up during the Bush administration and as a result, almost all discretionary domestic programs are being de-funded as much as possible. That includes giving money to cities to build train systems.

Cities are always free to raise their own money to build these things and Charlotte is a relatively affluent city so the question of this topic is should the city do that in order to build the next lines much faster. (This was the approach that Houston and San Diego did with much of their LRT) I see a city wide 10% property tax increase placed into effect for transit, and that money then used to back municipal bonds that would then be used to build the next 2-3 lines.

So the question of the day is should the city raise the city property tax rate to build rail transit faster in the county?

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No way. As both a personal property owner and business owner with property I can honestly tell you more property taxes would just drive me out of the county. How about some sort of tax for those who commute into the city to work? Afterall, letting those people off the hook just encourages sprawl. I have several employees who drive all the way to Charlotte from Rock Hill. They live in Rock Hill because of the lower taxes, and schools.

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I was royally drubbed by everyone when I suggested something similar a month ago, but I stand by my position that raising the sales tax another 1/2 cent would be the preferred method....

I think my math worked out to the extra 1/2 cent covering $1.1B in actual new development. This would not only build on the transit plan faster, but better....think LRT for the SE line, and complete grade separation.

I would support a sales tax increase, but not a property tax increase.

While on the subject, the city (or preferrably state) should increase the gas tax by several cents to pay for road improvements.

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I agree with windsurfer that property taxes are too strong a deterent from people living in the county or city. I DO however, believe in very targetted property tax increases within transit corridors structured like a mild synthetic TIF (where there is a very conservative estimate of tax increases in the corridor). This is similar, but with a large rate, to the supplemental taxes paid in uptown, Southend, and University City. I think that they should have unbinding referrendums in the precincts in each transit corridor, and have them opt to speed up their line or not. The extra tax wouldn't from the supplement would not pay for all of transit, only for the costs of the bond interest minus inflation savings to speed up timetable on the lines planned in the 2030 plan. Therefore, the neighborhoods can make the prioritization themselves and put a little bit of money where their mouth is.

Overall, though, I am content with the status quo with the one exception of waiting on lines that the federal government won't fund. If that includes the streetcar (which I love, in case you're new), then sobeit. So, I am actually for SLOWING some projects so that we can wait for the almost certain case of improved federal support for transit (post war, post-Republican congress, where Global Warming/Climate Chaos issues increase in importance). However, I think that if the east and west vote to supplement their property taxes to bring the streetcar project from the 2018 timeframe to the 2013 timeframe, ie. voting to cover 5 years of bond interest on the cost of the project, then I think that would be smart.

If the powers that be figure out a deal that is sound that includes property taxes, then fine, I will likely support it, but I personally doubt that leaders would choose property taxes considering the controversy they spur. However, I think that the city leaders are focused currently on finding a supplemental tax for roads rather than transit, so I do not expect much momentum around this concept. I personally think that we need to stick with the status quo until the Blue line proves itself and that we can prove that an extension warrants federal money.

I do, however, think that in 5-10 years, there will be a big push to not only make new plans (the 2035 or 2040 plan), but also find additional revenue to do it all sooner or to do more. However, my hope is that the city will be much denser, much larger, and with many more visitors, causing the existing tax to excede current revenue expectations. Hopefully inflation of concrete will be at much more normal rate unlike the past few years.

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Maybe TIF in station areas, but no citywide tax increase. Just like TIF along North commuter rail stations, TIF could help speed up the streetcar, so maybe TIF along the corridor.

The Northeast corridor remains the best contender for federal funding as a rail project, since such extension of the Blue Line gets to build upon existing ridership. Pragmatically, the Southeast corridor could be built next within five years, if only Bus Rapid Transit would be accepted. Besides, it makes little sense to build two rail lines (Central-Ave streetcar and Independence LRT) so close together. Instead, speed up both projects, but build BRT along Independence.

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It should be noted this would place an approximately $8/month burden on the average homeowner in Charlotte. It doesn't seem like that much.

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I agree with Dubone. I think I would support a tax that covered the streetcars...or it could be done similar to Portland's system where the businesses along the line carry an additional tax as they reap the most immediate reward. As far as commuter's are concerned...I would like to see a hefty Gas Tax to then help fund Commuter lines, or an additional property tax on these bedroom communities like Huntersville, Concord, Matthews and etc.

I think a Gas Tax may be more fair as it would directly effect the people who reap the benefits of Charlotte's prosperity yet don't live (pay taxes) in the city.

I also believe that Charlotte should aggressively Annex these communities to gain their tax base and create a more cohesive county.

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It should also be noted the property tax route is the only mechanism the city has at it's disposal for generating the money without getting the state or feds involved. Any request for new gas taxes, sales taxes, commuter taxes, etc, etc are all going to require state approval. That is very unlikely to happen without universal support from the local Mecklenburg delegation to the Legislature and several of them are on record of saying they would like any additional tax increases of this nature to be used to fund road building instead.

So the question, is that in light of that, and in order to keep out the state and federal government and their strings, would you support a property tax increase to get the rail system built faster?

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I think that an attempt to increase taxes might kill the proverbial goose. All the goodwill and excitement is great, but it is a temporary phenomenon that will decrease as the Blue Line loses its newness. While most of us here are very much in favor of extending rail transit as much as possible and as quickly as possible, the average Mecklenburg citizen is just as excited at the prospect of 485 being finished and South Blvd. getting back to normal. Road expansion is inevitably going to be a focus between now and the next rail opening, so politically now is not the time to push too hard for extra rail funding.

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I should add that I believe the city should be much quicker at reassess the tax value of properties, especially along the transit lines, especially when a property is sold. When people buy a house, they should be expecting a certain amount of property taxes based on the amount they just paid. Most people are pleasantly surprised when the tax value comes in at much lower than they paid.

I mean, how many NoDa houses can you find on Polaris with a tax value of less than $100k, despite sales prices there going in the $300k. I'm not proposing equal tax and market values, but they should be reassessed much more quickly whereever values are growing significantly due to public investment or otherwise.

I think that people in hot areas are expecting a tax value to increase, whereas across the board rate increase just upset everyone. It is much smarter way of raising tax revenue. If people don't want that high of a tax value, then they should have negotiated harder for the house in the first place.

I also believe in punitive taxation, such as doubling taxes on people who game the system by tearing down buildings for parking lots and restaurants with drive throughs (which contribute to traffic and pollution) and other stuff. But that will never happen.

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Road expansion is inevitably going to be a focus between now and the next rail opening, so politically now is not the time to push too hard for extra rail funding.

Agreed, I believe a better time would be after the current road funding situation has been dealt with.

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Maybe TIF in station areas, but no citywide tax increase. Just like TIF along North commuter rail stations, TIF could help speed up the streetcar, so maybe TIF along the corridor.

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I answered "No". The Charlotte, Mecklenburg, and Huntersville property owners are already having part of their property taxes go towards funding CATS. The whole point of the Sales Tax was to supplement that property tax funding which has remained static since 1998. I like the fact that about 30% of the Sales Tax comes from people outside of Mecklenburg County and its a good way to capture money from people who don't live here, don't pay property taxes here, however they use our mass transit.

To increase transit funding I would be in favor of an increase in the Sales Tax.

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During the referendum related to the transit sales tax, it was reported that if the repeal passes, property taxes may have to go up to offset the loss of the sales tax. I think it would be difficult for the county commission/city council to come in so soon afterwards and, in effect, say that the property taxes are going to go up anyway.

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I want multiple transit lines built NOW but would say NO NO NO to a property tax increase for these reasons:

1. The pro-transit side would lose credibility by raising property taxes after winning a transit tax campaign that was premised in part on "vote for the transit sales tax and property taxes won't go up".

2. State and federal dollars do come with strings attached but they give CATS projects credibility. Not many mass transit proposals end up being eligible for federal grants because of the stringent criteria that have to be met to obtain them, such as minimum ridership levels per dollar spent. The fact that CATS can obtain such grants shows that CATS rail lines are worthy investments.

3. Few people, if anyone, are currently pushing for more funds to build rail lines faster; I'd doubt that CATS has the manpower and resources to build rail lines faster, anyhow, and CATS management could be overwhelmed with multiple projects. (Maybe not, but building the Blue Line took an enormous amount of management attention.)

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I'm voting no on a property tax increase. I'd support another 1/2 added onto the transit tax. Now isn't the time to be pushing for this. Reworking the road formula for NC must come next...and Charlotte needs to be a big part of that discussion. The time will come when most people will want to speed up the build out of the 2030 plan...and then we can talk about an increased transit tax.

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gasoline tax or something that affects only drivers... in SF gas is 4 per gallon so were not that bad

I know many people who would take transit if they could, but its not around, come on down providence rd (yes I am continuing to constantly push that)

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The Legislature does allow counties to raise the land transfer tax above the current .2% with voter approval. However, every county that has tried it has been turned down by the voters.

I voted NO on this thread but I would would support a TIF in my Blue Line adjacent neighborhood, if it improved pedestrian amenities.

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I would love to see a gas tax increase, which would be even better since it has to happen at a state wide level as opposed to CLT/Meck only, that way people could not just escape it by leaving the county. The proximity of SC would still be an issue, but then it already is one anyway. I don't think most people would really notice an $8/month increase though I think that could be viewed as too "personal", and cause a negative opinion of our leadership. The gas tax simply affects your car, and most consumers tend to view gas cost not in terms of a govt. tax, but the oil companies [email protected] them. Attention is already diverted with it.

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The Legislature does allow counties to raise the land transfer tax above the current .2% with voter approval. However, every county that has tried it has been turned down by the voters.....

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I voted "no". I have no problem with my property taxes being raised but I don't think it is time to ask this of the citizens of Charlotte (yet). As others have said, we just went through a sales tax repeal vote and one of the pro transit points was that property taxes may go up if the repeal passes. This would not be fair to the voters and would cause an uproar amongst the anti transit crowd.

The dust needs to settle and the headlines need to continue to come in from the media about how well the South line is performing (note: we are already above ridership projections...). Development continuing to sprout up along the line and everyone seeing that and experiencing it needs to happen first.

I think before property taxes are touched we should look at raising the sales tax from 1/2 to 1 and examine ways to use TIF's along the lines at each station. Salt Lake City raised their sales tax (although from 1/4 to 1/2), so I think it is very possible here once people see how much good mass transit can do for a city.

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I think one option is not to 'raise' property taxes, but to correct the method of calculation the so called continuation of effort funds from both the city and the county perhaps as a shift to include inflation adjustment. I think a modest increase in those funds could be absorbed in the city and county budget, but might help to create a revenue stream over a 30 year period to support bonds to speed up some lines.

Since I agree with the assessments of others that it is too soon to push for an increase in the total transit budget (I would like that to be revisited after the NE extension is under construction or operating, probably 5 years from now or so) and after the road funding issues are improved, I am sort of mixed on all sorts of details. At least once this 2007 controversy is not fresh on everyone's minds, it will be a fair concept, but it is all too fresh for people to not make an undue connection. Once the Lynx line is successful, and we are off to a good start, people will be better about pursuing accelleration funds.

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I don't think its appropriate to raise property taxes. I would not support that, even if its for transit. I would, however, support a sales tax increase to a full penny, or any other creative way to fund an increased building schedule for transit.

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I would not support increased property taxes for transit. I would lobby against such an increase. Charlotte is still in the 19th century as far as revenue sources go. Look around at other growth states, or even within NC at progressive cities. I would support an increase in sales tax to a penny, or support an Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance or Transportation Impact Fees.

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I'm reluctant to think increasing the sales tax is such a good idea either. Doesn't Mecklenburg already have the highest sales tax in NC?

TIF in the rail corridors, is probably the most likely way to increase funding without drawing the anti-transit outer suburbs into lobbying against it.

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