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Arts And Science Council Asks Mecklenburg To Approve New Sales Tax

Mecklenburg County

The Arts and Science Council proposed a new quarter-cent sales tax Tuesday that would help fund the arts in Mecklenburg County.

In a presentation to Mecklenburg Commissioners during a budget workshop, the ASC said that the cultural sector has “never fully recovered from the 2008 Great Recession.”

The ASC said its annual funding was a little more than $16 million in 2008 but has fallen to around $10 million this year.

The group asked commissioners to ask voters to approve a new sales tax that would generate about $50 million a year. Of that money, the ASC would receive $20 million each year. The ASC said in its presentation that the county could decide how it would use the rest of the money.

Mecklenburg Commissioners would have to vote to place the tax on the ballot.

North Carolina counties have had the ability since 2009 to raise an additional quarter-cent sales tax for any purpose.

Five years ago, Mecklenburg voters overwhelmingly rejected a plan for a new quarter-cent sales tax. That money would have gone to Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, Central Piedmont Community College, the ASC and the public library.

Mecklenburg Commissioner Pat Cotham said she's wary of asking voters to approve the tax again.

“It was not well received by the voters," Cotham said. "I think the same thing would happen again. I brought up that the timing on this - it's not good. We have a reval and people are worried about taxes.”

Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.