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Weekly News Roundup: County Board Votes on Arts Tax Governance

County Commissioners Vote on Arts Tax … Kinda

The Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners voted on Wednesday to allow a restructured Arts & Science Council to govern the potential revenue that will come from a new quarter-cent sales tax if it’s passed by referendum during the November elections. However, board members stopped short on deciding who will make the final decisions on grant spending.

The board voted in July to place the proposed tax hike on the ballot. If approved, it’s estimated to bring in more than $50 million in revenue, 45% of which would go toward arts and culture. Wednesday’s vote was meant to decide on who would make the decisions on how to spend that $22.5 million, and it almost accomplished that goal.

Before a public forum featuring nearly 20 speakers, county staff presented its recommendation, which was to put a “re-envisioned” version of the existing Arts & Science Council in charge of re-allocating funds rather than create a new 501c3 that would do so. The reasons given for not creating a new organization to govern the funds included the fact that creating a 501c3 would require IRS approval and the “loss” of the established and well-respected ASC and its infrastructure.

Arts supporters like CLT Off-Broadway founder Anne Lambert (bottom right) stuck it out for the whole meeting on Wednesday.

Though the first speaker at the public forum, Martha Connerton of dance organization Kinetic Works, asked the commissioners not to put ASC in charge of the re-allocating the revenue, concerned that the organization has in the past focused too much of its funding on large institutions, nearly every other speaker spoke in support of the ASC governance model.

According to that model, a “reenvisioned” ASC would downsize, cease all programming and no longer do fundraising. According to the county presentation, the new ASC board of directors would ensure that equity was the leading priority for distribution of funds throughout the county.

During a discussion following the public forum, some county commissioners voiced their concerns about language used in the presentation stating that the new ASC board would make final allocation decisions regarding operating costs and capital planning activities.

Commissioner Trevor Fuller said he wanted elected officials to have the final say on any funding allocations.

“I’m not ok with collecting $25 million from the people of this county and handing it over to an organization with no public accountability,” Fuller said. “I won’t approve that.”

According to the county presentation, the new ASC board would include elected officials and would have “significant county oversight with regular reporting to the BOCC.”

Fuller said he would like the board to approve any grants, although county manager Dena Diorio pointed out why that might be unrealistic, as the ASC handed out more than 800 grants last year alone.

In the end, board chair George Dunlap amended the resolution to remove the language regarding who makes the final decisions regarding grant funding and the board agreed that they would “figure that out later.” Insert shrug emoji here.

Plaza Midwood Dairy Queen to Close After 69 Years

The family that owns the Dairy Queen on the corner of Central and Pecan avenues in Plaza Midwood announced this week that they’ll be closing the store on Nov. 1. The news comes less than a year after the lot was bought by Aston Properties in 2018.

According to the Walters family, which has owned the location since the 1970s, the two could not come to an agreement about money. Aston representatives have said that they plan to keep the building but make renovations to it. The Walters family has said they plan to open a new DQ location in east Charlotte next year.

Dairy Queen on Central Avenue back in the day. (Photo courtesy of Charlotte Eats)

N.C. Sen. Jeff Jackson held a town hall meeting outside of the Dairy Queen this afternoon, discussing issues like gerrymanding, the state budget and more. He bought ice cream for whomever showed up at the store between 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

“I’ve got a David French painting in my senate office that features this DQ. Always thought of it as the geographic center of the district. The fulcrum of the 37th [district],” he tweeted on Friday.

Jenna Thompson, founder of Plaza Midwood Shows Up, a group that advocates against gentrification in the neighborhood, gave us our quote of the day when she said she didn’t have much to say about the news “other than it sucks donkey dicks.”

Early Voting Is Over, It’s OK To Be On Time

Early voting for Charlotte City Council, mayor and N.C. 9th congressional district ended on Friday, but lines aren’t expected to be too long on Election Day, which is Tuesday, Sept. 10.

As District 3 candidate Terry Brown noted on Friday, only 2.32% of the voters in his district had voted when the day started. In non-presidential elections like these, every vote truly does count, so get the hell out there.

One important thing to remember is that, unlike early voting, during Election Day you have to vote at your designated polling place. At the Mecklenburg County Geoportal, you can figure out that info and plenty more just by typing in your address.

And if you’re wondering about who’s running, we’ve already got you covered right here with our Election Guide.

Hurricane Dorian Makes Landfall in Outer Banks

Though Hurricane Dorian skirted by most of the southern coast of North Carolina, leaving it largely unscathed, it did make landfall at Cape Hatteras and Ocracoke islands as a Category 1 hurricane on Friday morning, leaving hundreds stranded there.

Nearly 800 people who defied a mandatory evacuation were stranded on Ocracoke Friday after 90-mph winds created a seven-foot storm surge. It’s estimated that about 350,000 residents and businesses in North and South Carolina were left without power due to the hurricane.

Road Rage Murder Among Homicides This Week

Richard Clements (Photo courtesy of Gun Memorial)

A man was killed shortly after being involved in a car crash in north Charlotte on Wednesday evening. Police said 37-year-old Richard Clements was involved in a wreck with another driver at the intersection of North Tryon Street and West Sugar Creek Road. The two pulled over into a parking lot, at which time Clements exited his car and was shot by the other driver. According to the report, the suspect remained on the scene and rendered aid to Clements after shooting him. It’s unclear why the suspect shot Clements or whether they are claiming self-defense.

Earlier that morning, police were called out to the woods on Biscayne Drive behind Eastway Middle School where they found Arianna Edmonds dead of a gunshot wound. Edmonds had turned 22 in August.

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