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Community leaders, activists voice support for mobility network and tax

Updated: Jan. 4, 2021 at 11:09 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Monday night residents had the chance to voice their opinions about the proposed mobility network plan and sales tax in front of Charlotte City Council. However, the majority of the speakers list was filled with local leaders already plugged into the conversation or looking to get into the public eye.

As part of the process of the plan council opened the Charlotte Moves Task Force recommendations to a public feedback session. The task force is recommending the impose a one cent sales tax increase in Mecklenburg County to pay for a mobility network of light rail, bus routes, sidewalks, greenways and other transportation infrastructure.

Several of the speakers who signed up to speak in front of council promoted the need for an enhanced mobility network to keep Charlotte among its peer cities.

Charlotte Regional Business Alliance CEO Janet Labar said that her organization is in support of the recommendations.

“(It) has the potential to strengthen our region’s profile as a world class market for future business and positions us a leader in equitable economic growth,” Labar said.

Of the eight people who signed up to speak, seven were in favor and one against. Only one person spoke who isn’t easy to find on Google when you type his name.

“I’m Ronald Ross a resident and President of Northwood Estates Community located off of Beatties Ford Road,” Ross addressed council.

Ross said he was in favor of the project but wants to make sure communities that need public transportation most aren’t left behind.

“Why not address the needs of the least mobile and accessible communities first in this process,” Ross said.

It’s people like Ross who ultimately will need to be convinced the cost of the sales tax is worthwhile.

If the North Carolina General Assembly grants Charlotte the ability to impose a one cent sales tax increase, voters will then get to decide if the project and tax plan moves forward in a November referendum.

On January 11th, council will decide on whether to grant City Manager Marcus Jones permission to approach the North Carolina General Assembly in regards to the sales tax proposal.

Charlotte residents also had the opportunity Monday night to weigh-in on proposed reforms to the city council format and municipal election structure.

While those proposals include lengthening council terms from two to four years, increasing council pay to equal that of county commissioners and imposing term limits (which would also need approval from the NCGA) the topic that received the most attention from speakers was the proposal to move to non-partisan elections.

Mecklenburg County Democratic Party Chair Jane Whitley said that she was opposed to moving to non-partisan elections because she believed it would potentially hurt turnout.

“Making this change will lead to lower voter turnout, it will prevent members of our political parties from choosing their candidates to represent them in the general election,” Whitley said.

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