Charlotte rail financing has elements of Cotton Belt

See here on the Transport Politic blog a writeup of a light-rail proposal in Charlotte that reportedly has “a unique vision for its financing.”


A tax-increment financing (TIF) district around stations would allow increases in property values in the area to be directed toward paying back the cost of the project. This would be done with no increase in the property tax rate but rather through a redirection of increases towards the project.

Similarly, a special assessment district is being considered to pay for the service. Unlike TIFs, these districts* would require property owners to agree to pay a marginal increase in their property taxes to be devoted directly to the Red Line.

These are the exact two main revenue sources proposed in the consultants’ report released last month by the Regional Transportation Council for the proposed Cotton Belt line across North Dallas and northern suburbs.

I doubt anyone is pilfering anyone’s idea, as such. It may just be a race to see who can be the first test case for a potentially bright new concept in financing.

One thing that seems to set the Cotton Belt apart is the idea that a private financial/operator would be central to the concept. And in Charlotte, the line would be used by freight as well as passengers.

Either way, it’s a new day in trying to lash together rail service. And either way, local planners have to orchestrate a never-done-before plan across many different taxing districts.