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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -
The Charlotte City Council has resumed discussions about the Capital Improvement Plan as council members try to finalize items for the manager recommended budget that is due in May.
On Wednesday, in the first of three budget workshops, council members heard presentations from CATS and Storm Water Services.
Carolyn Flowers, of the Charlotte Area Transit System, told council members that the 2030 Transit Plan - which was supposed to build rapid transit in five corridors - will be more than $2B short in funding.
The primary local fund source was 1/2 cent sales tax. Transit officials say the recession that hit in 2008-2009 caused a reduction in the sales tax projection. And, state and federal monies for projects are in jeopardy because of budget problems.
The long term plan includes the Blue Line extension, the Red Line - originally projected for 2018, street cars and the Independence Corridor. Flowers says the gloomy financial outlook won't scrap the 2030 transit plan.
"The 2030 vision remains" says Flowers. "We're working on delivering the projects. Even though we have strained resources, we're still looking at innovative financing."
Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx pointed out that when city and transit officials worked on the 2030 plan back in 2006, there was an assumption that federal and state funding would be in place.
"It's kinda hard to spend money you don't have" says Mayor Foxx. "Not only do we not have any new money, we don't have any old money. We don't have any money."
Flowers says after the Blue Line Extension, the next project in line is the Red Line. "We're working on ways we can implement that project and we're overall knowing the implementation schedules will be slower", Flowers told council members.
Long term transit was just part of CATS presentation. For the upcoming fiscal year, Flowers says CATS wants to add more buses to the fleet and introduce new bus routes, as demand soars.
The transit system also plans to get new fare boxes. Instead of boarding and putting money in the fare box, CATS plans to switch to a card swipe system.
Riders will use a card - similar to a debit card with a magnetic stripe. Customers will either go online or go to locations across the area to put money into their card account. Flowers says when riders get onboard, all they'll have to do is tap the card at a box.
But Flowers admit the sales tax projection will play a role in what new items CATS will be able to have in fiscal years 2014 and 2015.
"If sales taxes are not a level we project, we're going to have to look at deferring projects and push out to the future" Flowers says.
The City Council's next budget workshop is scheduled for March 20th. That agenda includes General Capital Investment Plan Report-outs from Committee, and property and sales tax revenue update.