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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with William I. Ward Jr., March 21, 1975. Interview B-0072. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Issues of taxation in the consolidation process

Ward continues his discussion of opposition to consolidation in rural Mecklenburg County, particularly in the northern part of the county. Focusing specifically on issues of taxation, Ward argues that people who lived outside of Charlotte worried that consolidation would mean that they paid higher taxes for improvements in the city that may or may not benefit them. He offers his thoughts on how the charter commission handled the issue.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with William I. Ward Jr., March 21, 1975. Interview B-0072. 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

A lot of opposition perhaps based on the tax situation? You said you thought one reason that maybe the chamber was interested in it and some of the city officials was to get the county tax base supporting maybe the civic center and this sort of activity that the city was engaging in.
Yes. I think that in the recesses, at least, of some of their minds, some of them speaking frankly, some perhaps honestly disagreeing, but in the back of their heads was the feeling of many, I think, that we can get more support, financial support for these things that Charlotte wants to do that these people out in the county are benefitting from. They are benefitting. They can come down to the coliseum or the auditorium. They can use our airport. They come and use the Charlotte city streets and all the improvements. They should help pay for these things. I don't know. Of course, the people outside the city said, "This is a city matter. We don't want to help pay for these things. The people in Gastonia use these things. The airport is closer to them and closer to the people from York County South Carolina than it is to many of us. The coliseum and auditorium is much closer to the people in Union County. People from other counties can use these facilities. You voted the bonds. Yes, we use them, but we don't use them any more than the people in these other areas which are just as close to Charlotte as we are." The people where I live were particularly of that opinion because where we lived, we lived in the part of the county with no adequate highway facilities at that time. The other areas had I 85, they had 74, they had even built I 77 down and dead-ended it in a corn field at the South Carolina line. We had to drive the tortuous distance over highway 21 with all the accidents to make use of these facilities. So, we didn't feel the same way. We, of course, shop in Charlotte as do people from other areas, but we also shop in Concord and Mooresville and Statesville which are much closer. That is, in the extreme northern part of the county. We even use hospital facilities at Lowrance Hospital in Iredell County because it's seven miles from us and not 25 or 30. They are maybe some of the reasons and arguments. Now, we were particularly opposed to…I, for one, was particularly opposed to this consolidation, and I don't know whether you are going to get into this or not. The five small municipalities actually received, in this proposed charter, a lot of things in their favor. Representing one of them, I tried to see that they were included. We had the right to continue our existence if we saw fit to. Have our own municipal government. Even annex territery under certain conditions. These things were beneficial to us if consolidation had occured. So, it wasn't all bad. If it had occured, there would have been many things that we could have lived with. We were fortunate, perhaps, to have a charter proposed that did include these things, so that we could continue our small town existence. I'm just trying to be fair about it. I did not think that the commission should have done what it did. I thought they should have let each unit continue with its own debt, pay off its own debt. If Charlotte had incurred a debt for coliseum-auditorium, for civic center, and those other debts that it had voted, that it should continue to be a taxing district for the purpose of paying off the old debts. That the county should continue to pay off its debts. Of course, each town, if it continued its existence, would have had to continue as a taxing unit to pay off its debts.
Combined the whole debt and made it a countywide…
That's what we proposed. I did not think that that should be the case. I did not think that our charter commission really considered that. I thought…My recollection was they kind of hit it as a hurry up matter at the end of things.