A November referendum to raise Mecklenburg County’s sales tax a quarter of a cent has yet to get support from a big booster: the Charlotte Chamber. The Chamber says it’s not against the purpose of the increase: using the generated money to pay for raises for CMS employees and to help prop up the area’s struggling arts and science centers. Rather, it says more discussion is needed on finding specific funding options. So, the Chamber is staying out of the referendum debate. Mecklenburg County Commissioner Dumont Clarke, a referendum supporter, says a Chamber-funded campaign would have helped pass the sales tax hike, but he remains confident.
“There are other groups and organizations on a grassroots level that I think will be very supportive of this and I expect them to be stepping up to the plate,” Clarke says.
Clarke also says state lawmakers passing a budget that gives teachers an average 7 percent raise does not undercut arguments in favor of the sales tax increase. He says the raise in the budget covers only teachers, but the money generated from the sales tax increase would go toward raises for all CMS employees. The money would also go toward the Arts and Science Council, libraries, and CPCC. The Chamber led the campaign for the half-cent transit sales tax in 1998, and also campaigned against its repeal in 2007.