Mobility sales tax proposal “offensive” to people in North Mecklenburg County

Updated: Dec. 15, 2020 at 11:28 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - While Charlotte city leaders make the rounds presenting the recommendations of the Charlotte Moves Task Force there is one thing they’ll need to keep in the back of their minds: The North Remembers.

It’s more than a Game of Thrones reference for people who live in Huntersville, Cornelius and Davidson. It’s a reminder of mass transit promises that many of them feel were never kept.

Finding elected officials in North Mecklenburg County who are supportive of the proposed one-cent sales tax increase is like trying to find a surviving member of the Stark family.

Tuesday, Huntersville Mayor John Aneralla told WBTV he would not support the proposed tax increase for the Transformational Mobility Network.

“It’s a real high hurdle to vote for something they promised 23 years-ago,” Aneralla said.

That promise was the LYNX Red Line, a light rail system running from Davidson into Uptown Charlotte. Because of difficulties negotiating with Norfolk Southern Railroad, there hasn’t been any agreement to use their rail corridor for the Red Line.

Even in the task force recommendation there is no certainty provided about the future of the Red Line saying – “Some projects still face major hurdles for implementation such as the necessary negotiation with Norfolk Southern Railroad for the use of the rail corridor for the Lynx Red Line.”

None-the-less, residents in North Mecklenburg have been paying a half-cent transit sales tax that Aneralla and others feel they haven’t received any benefit from.

Aneralla said that if Charlotte leaders want to pursue this plan, then Charlotte residents should foot the bill, not county residents.

“If they want it, they it they should pay for it,” Anerella said.

Tuesday, Jaiyeoba and Gantt presented the task force recommendations to the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners.

District 1 representative Elaine Powell, who serves for Huntersville, Davidson and Cornelius said that the city will have a difficult time convincing voters in northern parts of the county to support the sales tax increase.

“There is zero enthusiasm for this plan in District 1,” Powell said.

“But it’s worse than zero, it’s offensive to so many people who live in my district who believed they would have a light rail more than 20 years ago.”

Jaiyeoba said that county commissioners would have to vote in favor of putting the mobility plan and sales tax proposal on the November ballot for a referendum.

Before that happens, the city needs to get approval of the sales tax increase from the North Carolina General Assembly.

Throughout their multiple presentations, Jaiyeoba and Gantt have said that collaboration and partnership between the legislature, city and towns is key. Towns in Northern Mecklenburg County have made clear that trust needs to be rebuilt in order for that to happen.

Aneralla told WBTV he’s had two conversations with the City of Charlotte since the funding recommendation for the plan was unveiled.

A spokesperson for the City of Charlotte said the city has met individually with leaders of Matthews, Pineville, Cornelius, Huntersville and Davidson.

Mint Hill Mayor Brad Simmons told WBTV he had not been approached yet but is hoping for a visit.

“I would more than welcome that conversation,” Simmons said.

But the uphill battle for support of the sales tax will be fought in the northern portions of the county.

“There’s a very bad feeling in North Mecklenburg. They remember. They haven’t forgotten,” Powell said.

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