by Joseph Coletti
Senior Fellow, Fiscal Studies, John Locke Foundation
Charlotte’s Arts & Science Council went to the people of Mecklenburg County last fall to get a quarter-cent sales tax increase. The tax would have raised $50 million each year for the county, with $22.5 million going to the ASC, whose budget is currently $15.5 million. If the tax hike had gone through, ASC would have stopped seeking other sources of funding. Voters rejected the tax hike by a 57-43 margin.
Despite the loss and tighter revenues for city and county government, commissioners will add $500,000 to their previous $2.05 million annual grant to ASC. Charlotte City Council will provide $3.2 million to ASC, the same amount as 2020. The combined $5.75 million is less than half of the $12 million (subscription needed) ASC requested, but it is a third of ASC’s current $15.5 million budget and will be a bigger share of its smaller budget.
“The new budget will be much smaller — that’s a given — but [ASC President Jeep] Bryant said Monday that the nonprofit’s board was still in the process of determining the final amount,” the Charlotte Business Journal reported (subscription needed). The Council is cutting its 30-person staff to 24, reducing rent expense by moving offices, cutting operating grants to 33 organizations in half, and trimming salaries of its four highest-paid employees by 5%-15%. Bryant, whose salary is currently $220,000, warned in January about the potential for a smaller budget.