Latest News

Amended Bond Lawsuit Demands Repeal of City’s Latest Tax

“Bait and Switch” Deprived Ashevillians of Due Process, Complaint Says
By Roger McCredie Managing Editor
The parties to a suit that seeks to vacate the results of last November’s $74 million bond referendum have now expanded their complaint to include the tax that was approved in June to cover the interest on them.

The addition to the complaint says taxpayers are being forced to pay debt service on bonds that haven’t even been issued.

And the city has responded by saying it can do pretty much what it wants to do with the proceeds from the new tax – after saying repeatedly that the tax would be used solely to pay interest on the bond package.

Buncombe County Superior Court Judge Marvin Pope on August 1 advanced the plaintiffs’ cause by ruling that the anti-tax amendment could be added to their complaint. Now the plaintiffs, retired attorney Sidney Bach and former Asheville vice mayor Chris Peterson, are challenging not only the validity of the bond question itself – which they say was …

Boondoggle 2.0

Transit Contract Causes 2nd Overrun in a Month; City Dips into Rainy-Day Fund
By Roger McCredie
Managing Editor

“Time flies when you’re having funds.” – Cecil Bothwell to Asheville Unreported, June 27, 2017

At its July 25 meeting, Asheville City Council voted unanimously to dip into the city’s “rainy day” fund to cover a $441,000 overage to the $850,000 transit allocation it had just approved, as part of the new city budget, on June 13.

The budget overrun is being caused by overlapping monthly payments that will occur as the city phases out its existing contract with Transportation Services of America, its present bus service provider, and phases in a new agreement with McDonald Transportation Associates.

The funding request is the second financial “oopsies moment” council has experienced within a month. The first was the revelation, at the June 27 meeting, that bids for work on the River Arts District Transportation Improvement Project (RADTIP) had come in at $26 million over budget.…

The Mayor’s Race That’s Now a Mayor’s Race

And Other Implications of the 2017 Campaign Season
An Analysis
By Roger McCredie
Managing Editor
On February 21, incumbent Asheville mayor Esther Manheimer announced plans to run for a second term this November. And for a while there seemed to be a real possibility that she would walk right into it.

Manheimer Steamroller
She simply had no opponents. Candidate-wise, the local Republican Party was missing in action. No unaffiliated or third-party candidates came forward. Within the Democratic Party establishment, Manheimer was up to her signature slimline spectacles in endorsements and connections. And she was clad in the armor of four years as mayor and four previous years as a city councilor, including two as vice mayor.

Manheimer is considered both smart and ambitious (She does, after all, work as a land use/foreclosure lawyer for the prestigious Van Winkle law firm and she was just re-elected chair of the North Carolina Metropolitan Mayors Coalition.) She’s been credited with s…

Asheville starts to use its emergency fund

Buried deep in the City Council meeting agenda for July 25, 2017 is the approval of McDonald Transit contract for the operations and maintenance of the Asheville City Transit System.  A memo from Assistant City Manager, Cathy Ball, requests additional funding of $441,000 that will need to come from the rainy day fund in order to fulfill the transit contract. So, not only does our Transit system lose $7 million a year but now, the City will have to start using its rainy day fund to pay for ongoing operations and maintenance.
North Carolina municipalities are required to maintain 8% of General Fund expenditures, often referred to as the "rainy day fund" to be used in an emergency.  Our City maintains 15% to be safe but that is only $18 million.  Considering that the City recently experienced a $26 million budget overrun causing a massive scale back in its RADTIP project, it is easy to see how that amount can easily be eaten up in one project.  $18 million is not much to put a…

Letter: Tim Peck on District Elections

Dear Asheville Unreported readers:

Municipal district elections are coming to Asheville. This voting method separates the city into six
geographical areas for electing six city council members. Candidates must reside in their separate districts and be elected by voters from that district. The mayor will still be elected by all of the city. District elections are all about regional representation, increased democracy, and decentralization in city politics.

A law requiring this election method for Asheville was passed by the state legislature in June. Senate Bill 285 mandates that the city change its charter by November 1st to provide for election districts starting with the 2019 elections.

On Tuesday, July 25, Asheville City Council voted to place a referendum on the ballot that purports to allow the voters of Asheville to decide the matter. This is a ruse. You are being lied to. This issue has already been decided by law and a vote against it would only be used to manufacture evidenc…


(*** "Not So Fast")
Guest Letter by Sidney Bach
It's a hard but true fact in the financial world of municipal bond financing (such as the City's proposed issuance of $74 Million in bond debt) that, as a practical matter, no such bonds can be issued (because no financial institution or underwriting syndicate of investors will buy them) UNLESS the City, its City Attorney and its bond counsel can sign off on what is known as a "CERTIFICATE OF NON-LITIGATION."

Such a Certificate must state, without any reservation whatsoever, that there is no litigation pending or threatened that challenges the legal validity of the bonds or the proceedings by which they have been authorized. Since there is a lawsuit about the bond referendum ballot wording that is currently pending in the Buncombe County Superior Court (which recently denied the City's request to dismiss the case), until such time as that lawsuit has been finally resolved by North Carolina's courts,…

Good Ship RADTIP founders On $26 Million sandbar

(NOTE: Asheville Unreported has been reporting on this boondoggle project for the last 2 years (see also  The Mayor shouldn't be shocked since Mr. Chris Peterson warned them of rising construction costs over a year ago during the May 2016 City Council meeting. It is our belief the $74 million GO Bonds were planned for RADTIP costs.)

Budget overrun means city must pledge $6MM to save $14.6MM federal grant By Roger McCredie Managing Editor
That loud scraping noise you may have heard downtown last Tuesday was the City of Asheville’s flagship development project running aground on the shoals of a massive -- and apparently totally unexpected – construction cost overrun projection.

The $26 million underestimate is already being called the biggest city financial boondoggle in recent memory. It sent council scurrying to approve a budget addition of $6 million so that it could save a $14.6 million federal grant that is the linchpin of its treasured River Arts Distric…