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Charlotte Talks Forum On Proposed Mecklenburg Sales Tax Increase

Chris Miller / WFAE

Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019

Should Mecklenburg voters approve a sales tax increase to help shore up funding for the arts and cultural sector? Both sides in the tax debate make their case in a forum at the McGlohon Theater.

The Arts & Science Council pitched the quarter-cent increase as a lifeline for cultural organizations that "are in crisis and... might be lost."

If approved, the increase would generate an estimated $50 million, of which the ASC would receive 45 percent.

"I think arts and culture can help bridge our community and bring us together and deal with a lot of other issues we have," said former county commissioner Darrel Williams, chairman of the campaign supporting the increase.

Thirty-four percent of the new tax revenue would go toward parks and greenways, and 16% would supplement Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teacher salaries.


But opponents question if the community has more important needs than the arts.

"We've actually seen through surveys what the priorities in the community are, such as affordable housing, things like transportation," said former county commissioner Matthew Ridenhour, organizer of the Mecklenburg Tax Alliance. "(Is) funding this private organization the best use of our last quarter-cent sales tax increase that we have?"

From left to right: Darrel Williams, Susan Harden, Matthew Ridenhour, Pat Cotham

The campaigns for and against the increase joined Mike Collins and a live audience at the McGlohon Theater to make their cases.


Darrel Williams, chairman of the Partnership for a Better Mecklenburg campaign supporting the increase, former Mecklenburg County commissioner

Susan Harden, Mecklenburg County commissioner, District 5, supporter of the increase

Matthew Ridenhour, organizer of the Mecklenburg Tax Alliance opposing the increase, former Mecklenburg County commissioner

Pat Cotham, Mecklenburg County commissioner, at-large, opponent of the increase

A veteran of Charlotte radio news, Chris joined the "Charlotte Talks" staff in January 2016, but has been listening to WFAE since discovering the station as a high schooler.