Raleigh, N.C. — A bill that would allow Charlotte to use a pair of tourism-related taxes to help fund improvements to Bank of America Stadium play got a little more complicated Thursday morning.
The House Finance Subcommittee on Occupancy Taxes revised parts of the bill, which would allow the city to use excess money from a local occupancy tax and a prepared food and beverage tax to help the Carolina Panthers improve the facility. No state tax dollars are involved, and Charlotte would not be able to raise either of those taxes, as originally requested.
Under the revised bill, the city would be able to pay for traffic control improvements around the stadium. Rep. Ruth Samuelson, R-Mecklenburg, said lawmakers rejected another request from the team that tax funds be able to assist with marketing.
Other changes to the bill Thursday reflect the complex nature of diverting taxes from their original use. For example, the measure has to exempt the stadium improvements from public bidding requirements. That's because, while the Panthers own the stadium, any improvements – such as new escalators – will be owned by the city and leased to the team. The team would then operate the improvements and bill the city for any maintenance needs.
Another change to the bill isn't completely ready but deals with the fact that the two taxes being used were originally set up to fund the Charlotte convention center. Lawyers drafting the bill say they are still working on how to make clear that the convention center won't have to operate or otherwise be involved in the stadium project.
"I don't think we have it completely formed yet," said Rep. Bill Brawley, R-Mecklenburg. "It is getting more complicated, but that shows the kind of attention the General Assembly is giving to this."
The bill is due to be heard in the full House Finance Committee on either Tuesday or Wednesday next week. It would next go to the House floor. Passage is not assured. Lawmakers on the political right and left have questioned why any tax money should got to a lucrative private enterprise.