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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Stanford Raynold Brookshire, August 18, 1975. Interview B-0067. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Local identity and increased taxes threatened Charlotte's consolidation

Brookshire offers another explanation of why consolidation of city-county services failed in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. County residents feared a loss of identity and an increase in taxes despite arguments to the contrary.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Stanford Raynold Brookshire, August 18, 1975. Interview B-0067. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

I remember from reading a bit on the Jacksonville consolidation and one or two people here in Charlotte have commented, too, that perhaps a mistake that was made...Seems that in Jacksonville, they had organized pretty cohesively before the...I forgot what they called the charter commission. I believe it was the Local Government Study Commission...Before they'd actually started work, you might say, they had organized a good deal of support and had gotten their war chest up, as it were, for the campaign. It was done differently here in Charlotte. I'm, to an extent, wondering why... A lot of people see consolidation votes and these sorts of referenda as real political fights and not something people, you know, sit down and think about and say, "This will give us better planning, and this will give us better services, and this sort of thing," unless its a crisis. It's a real organized political fight. It seemed that, in Charlotte, maybe the organization came too late, or by the time the organization came a lot of people were upset with what was being proposed. I'm, in a way, you know, wondering why in Charlotte, having some knowledge of the Jacksonville situation, it wasn't done, you might say, closer to the example of Jacksonville.
I don't know. We had sent delegations, of course, to both Jacksonville and Nashville to study their consolidation efforts and the results. I think those who went to both cities were convinced that a single government was the ideal government for a county like Mecklenburg that had two-thirds, three-fourths of its population, I guess, within the city limits. Well, let me tell you where some other opposition to it came also. The five small towns, incorporated towns in Mecklenburg were not enthusiastic at all about consolidation. They thought they might lose their own identity even though there was provision that they'd continue to, they could continue to operate as corporate cities. Then, too, the rural voters in Mecklenburg County felt like they might be saddled with heavier taxes to support the larger government without getting the benefits that would be comensurate with the services rendered. That in spite of the fact that there was provision for tax districts which, in theory at least, would lay the taxes on the basis of services rendered in a given area of the city and county. In other words, the county residents would not have to pay for any services they weren't getting, municipal type services.
There was an urban services district and sort of a county services district. The idea was you'd be paying comensurate with the services that you...
That's right, but maybe that wasn't explained carefully enough, or wasn't sold, at least.