|Brian Jenest and John Woods|
For nearly two decades the North Corridor has been envisioned as commuter rail on the existing Norfolk Southern rail line that runs through the LKN towns. However, Lewis explained that last year the railroad made clear in no uncertain terms that it would not be entertaining any more shared projects with passenger rail on its lines.
The above screen shot was taken at the exact moment Lewis was explaining this failure to reach an agreement with the railroad for the so called Red Line. Commissioner Brian Jenest and in particular Mayor John Woods have taken the lead in promoting the Red Line over the years. Their position has always been something like "Oh, the railroad will eventually come around." Clearly, that has turned out not to be the case and the above picture says it all.
So, what does Davidson's board decide to do when CATS has its hand out for more rail transit study money? They did what they always do. Ask softball questions before going along.
Commissioner Beth Cashion took the lead in asking Lewis a series of leading questions. Really, her questions were more like requests for the CATS talking points on how to respond to citizens who oppose throwing good money after bad when it comes to pursuing rail transit. Commissioner Fuller raised what seemed like might be opposition to the study by pointing out it was dependent on $6 billion in funding falling out of the sky. Unfortunately, he failed to call Mr Lewis on the obvious flaw in his answer.
After spending a good bit of time explaining why CATS needed to re-study rail transit in the North Corridor, Lewis explained the financing in response to Commissioner Fuller's question. In the past, rail transit projects were funded with the following formula - 50% Federal, 25% State, and 25% Local. However, the State has since put a 10% cap on its spending towards these projects. Lewis described this reduction in State money as a "15% gap" - minimizing the financial hole as much as possible.
The truth is that it is more like a 40% gap.
That's because the local 25% portion can not be funded out of the existing 1/2 cent transit tax here in Mecklenburg County. There is no capacity in the existing tax to fund more rail lines. That's the giant elephant in the room, and every single person sitting at the dias in Davidson on Tuesday knows it.
Instead of calling Mr Lewis on that misinformation, they let it slide.
The end result of the Davidson Board supporting CATS in its continuing endeavor to build more rail lines is the acceptance of higher taxes and/or gutting Davidson's tax base to support it.
That's what Davidson's Board really did by continuing to support CATS.