Et Tu, Carowinds?
I have often joked that with all the uptown-centric political promotion that Charlotte is famous for, it would only be a matter of time before business leaders tried to find a way to get taxpayers to pay to move the Carowinds amusement park uptown. You know, because clearly if a business doesn’t reside within or adjacent to the I-277 loop, it just can’t possibly be a viable enterprise.
In the case of Carowinds, I thought we could maybe get creative. How about using roller coasters as a substitute for the blue line extension? Combining entertainment with transportation would certainly set Charlotte apart.
Ya, I digress, but while thankfully we’re not talking about moving the park uptown, the tax incentive train is once again pulling into the station.
Carowinds, a thriving and successful member of the Cedar Fair Entertainment conglomerate of amusement parks, recently announced plans to expand the park with a $50 million addition. The park bought 61 acres of vacant land next to the existing 337 acres the park occupies. This was an exciting development, not only because I love amusement parks and figured bigger is always better, but the jobs it would bring would be good for the economy.
Of course, no good thing can go untainted.
Despite the current economic success of Cedar Parks (net income of $101.9 million in 2012, up from $65.3 million in 2011 according to their annual report) and the virtual impossibility of threatening to leave the Charlotte region, both the Charlotte City Council and the Mecklenburg County Commission will be voting on property tax rebates for the company to the tune of $330,000 and $600,000 respectively at this weeks meetings of both bodies.
The City Council apparently gave tentative approval for the incentives behind a closed door meeting on June 24. The open meeting votes must now take place, but what a shame the public is only now being made aware of this. This was clearly planned to prevent any opposition from surfacing. Of course, with this group of elected officials, it isn’t likely that the people would be listened to anyway.
I love the park. It was my first job and I worked there for three seasons. I met some of my best friends while there. But this, like all other giveaways, is just nonsensical.
This constant “economic development” behavior that amounts to nothing more than bribery is a black stain on our community.
I fully believe that the number and amount of incentive grants are directly proportional to how bad a city must be for business. If a grant is necessary to lure an out of town business or foster an entrepreneurial start-up, clearly the environment for business is generally poor. The “need” for these grants is a tacit admission of that.
So just remember, citizen, that while you are being saddled with tax increases from both the City and the County, our fair elected officials are giving yet another nearly million dollars of your money away to a profitable and successful business enterprise. Perhaps one that competes with your business for entertainment dollars.
Seriously, this is just pathetic.
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