The Charlotte Observer’s Taylor Bratten offers up a quick explanation of the issues involved in an Open Meeting lawsuit against the city about its decision in closed session to grant incentives to the team and raise the tax on restaurant meals to cover the cost of the incentives and then some. OK, and then a lot. Some sample quotes:
The plaintiffs argue that the law allows secret negotiations only about paying incentives, not raising taxes. [Charlotte City Attorney Bob] Hagemann says there is no established case law addressing this question. He points to the statute’s wording “matters relating to…” Raising taxes to fund the Panthers’ incentives is a “matter relating to” the incentives, he argues. Close call, but I doubt the statute was written with the intention of allowing governments to craft plans to raise taxes or create new ones in closed session. Advantage: Plaintiffs.
However the lawsuit turns out, it will be valuable to have a court interpret just what the law allows when discussing tax dollars for private business.
True enough. And depending on how the courts rule, it could also be something the General Assembly may want to address in the future.