Charlotte voters have an extra page at the bottom of their ballots this month. The city is asking voters to approve $218.44 million in bonds for transportation, housing and neighborhood improvements.
This year's bond referendum is the second in a series of four the city plans over eight years. Altogether, the city hopes to raise about $800 million. That will pay for dozens of projects outlined in a long-range plan developed in 2013 under former City Manager Curt Walton.
That plan and the bonds are about improving Charlotte's infrastructure and appearance, says Natalie English of the Charlotte Chamber, which is leading a campaign in favor of the bonds.
“As our community continues to grow, we have to keep up with that growth by investing in especially the transportation infrastructure, but also again that housing and those neighborhood investments. They're all about making our community look better,” English said.
Three separate questions are on the ballot:
- $148.44 million for street and intersection projects, bridges, and upgrades to the city's traffic light system.
- $15 million to rehab or develop affordable housing for low- and moderate-income households.
- $55 million for sidewalks, landscaping, and lighting in the city's deteriorating older neighborhoods.
The road projects include improvements west of I-485 to accommodate a massive housing and office development called the River District. There’s also money for work along Monroe Road, and for a cross-Charlotte pedestrian trail.
Voters approved the first set of bonds in 2014, and some of that work is already underway. If voters approve this year’s bonds, two more votes are planned, in 2018 and 2020.
There’s no organized opposition to this year’s bonds. Taxes won't go up again if voters approve these or the 2018 and 2020 bonds. That’s because the city council included debt payments on the entire investment plan up front, with a 7 percent property tax increase in 2013.
VoteYesForBonds.com, the bond campaign website
CharlotteNC.gov, Charlotte's 10-year Community Investment Plan, with information on the series of bonds and specific projects.