No, not actually build the streetcar line, but instead spend $12 million to do the engineering work on the line. The story is that this will demonstrate to the federal government how committed Charlotte is to the project, thereby increasing the odds the feds will pick up half the construction cost.
Let’s be real here: A majority of people on Charlotte City Council really, really want to build at least the first phase of the streetcar line along Beatties Ford Road. And council has already implicitly voted to raise property taxes to do so. Obviously, city council would prefer if the feds picked up half the cost, but if that isn’t going to happen, the line will still get built. The only question is when the decision is made and what sort of very small political fig leaf will be used to say that an explicit property tax increase wasn’t involved. Part of the justification for building the line completely at city expense will most certainly be that since the design work is complete, it would be a waste not to build it.
Bonus observation: Since Charlotte politicians no longer fear voters over tax increases, even tax increases in election years, and the Republican party is pretty much irrelevant in the city, a further fig leaf of deniability of raising property taxes to build the streetcar may not even be necessary.