Caroline McMillan, South Charlotte News, April 13, 2012
On the docket for the upcoming Ballantyne Breakfast Club meeting Saturday is one of the most buzz-worthy topics of late: secession.
Ever since District 6 County Commissioner Bill James floated the idea a few months ago, the concept of south Charlotte forming its own municipality has been tossed around and critiqued by residents and city leaders.
“We want factual information and we want people to know what’s going on,” said Ray Eschert, president of the Ballantyne Breakfast Club, which has not endorsed any agenda for south Charlotte.
City Manager Curt Walton’s recently proposed 9 percent city property-tax increase, which would fund a nearly $1 billion capital plan through 2020, has brought the issue back to the forefront of political talk south of uptown.
South Charlotte’s District 7 City Council Representative Warren Cooksey and District 6 Representative Andy Dulin have openly criticized Walton’s tax proposal. They argue that the city disproportionately cares for the less-wealthy regions in the center city, while creating a void of projects in the city’s most affluent neighborhoods, where the majority of the tax base is.
Cooksey, who is orchestrating the speakers for the April 14 meeting, has been researching if — and how — an area like south Charlotte, which he defines as south of McAlpine Creek, could form its own municipality.
That’s when he happened upon Oliver Porter, who agreed to speak at the Ballantyne Breakfast Club meeting.
Porter, the author of “Creating the New City of Sandy Springs,” was the interim city manager when Sandy Springs, Ga., a northern suburb of Atlanta, fully incorporated in 2005.
Sandy Springs, which had a strong commercial base pre-incorporation, now has nearly 100,000 residents and contracts out its public services to private companies.
The meeting will also cover rumblings about splitting Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools into separate districts.