Local governments have given tax waivers and have freed up land and built roads and utilities as incentives to attract businesses and developments.
And supporters are hyping Amendment One as a new way for municipalities to lure businesses to their respective burgs, The (Raleigh) News & Observer reported.
They argue that it would allow them to compete with other states - North Carolina and Arizona are the only states that do not allow local governments to issue bonds without referendum.
Despite the assertion of local leaders that Amendment One would give towns and counties another way to boost their economies, the measure likely would not lead to a positive overall effect on N.C. communities.
If passed, the new rule probably would create a system of winners and losers within the state. Towns would be forced to compete with other municipalities in terms of offering the best benefits packages - for example, Durham could snatch a new Home Depot away from Cary or Apex.
Giving all N.C. towns a new set of tools might shift the distribution of economic activity. But it seems unlikely that the state as a whole would gain any more business than it had before. Meanwhile, towns probably would allot more of their funds to attract and support large businesses.
Furthermore, the idea reduces town officials' financial accountability to their residents - local governments would be able to accrue public debt through bonds without presenting their cases directly to the taxpayers whom they're putting at risk.
Quickly accessed bonds very well could be needed to build a new school or to make emergency repairs to a sewer system. However, towns and counties just as easily could go into debt by bringing in a large business or development that is doomed to fail.
Who is left holding the bag then? The taxpayers, of course. Local officials would have to be both very trustworthy and very competent.
The potential financial dilemmas that could befall a small town outweigh any of Amendment One's positive effects, which could be negligible. Not only would no town be given any huge advantage over any other municipality, but the public welfare could be damaged by poor investments made without the consent of voters.
Just because other states are doing it doesn't mean North Carolina should follow. N.C. towns already are on level playing fields with each other.
The measure is effectively a subsidy for big business. A good idea will sell itself; there's no need to take the taxpaying voter out of the process.
On Nov. 2, citizens should vote "no" on Amendment One.