The Char-Meck Consolidation Question

The discussion's been around for nearly a century, but we're no closer than in the 1920s
Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson

I just ran across an eyebrow-raiser of a document, preserved in PDF format by UNC Chapel Hill's School of Government. It details an upcoming referendum on consolidating Charlotte and Mecklenburg County government, "following over forty years of discussion," it notes a bit impatiently. The referendum failed, of course — on March 22, 1971.

So this city-county consolidation question has been with us for a while — since 1927, apparently, when "Miss Carrie McLean, a General Assembly member from Meckenburg County, introduced legislation to enable all local governments in Mecklenburg County to merge into one," then hailed a surrey to carry her to the nearest speakeasy, I would hope.

And there we've been ever since (not at the speakeasy, sadly). Periodically, somebody floats the idea, takes a step or two toward thinking about considering a feasibility study to determine whether it can be considered further, and whoever's representing south Charlotte gets wind of it and starts talking about precious bodily fluids, and that's that. Anthony Foxx tried it, enlisting the help of ex-mayor and Republican Richard Vinroot, and was accused of espionage. Shame as it ever was.

Politically, it wouldn't be a great idea for the next mayor, whomever that might be (and man, a lot of people seem to want a low-paying, high-stress job with questionable benefits!) to push consolidation too heavily, lest south Charlotte secede and declare itself the Sovereign Republic of Ballantyne. But something has to give eventually — Charlotte's running out of tax base, and sometime not too far in the future it's going to have to raise taxes, find or develop new taxable property or start the long, slow slide back into the ranks of the mid-sized, provincial cities that get a boost from hosting actuarial conventions.

Categories: Poking the Hornet’s Nest