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Showing posts from March, 2017

City development project for New Belgium completed at 300% over budget but come to the ribbon cutting!

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The City has been working hard on the French Broad River West Greenway and Craven Street Improvements but here are some facts you probably didn’t know or forgot: For New Belgium The Greenway and the Craven Street Improvements were part of the bargaining deal (economic incentive package) in getting New Belgium to come to Asheville and is located on or near their property.  The City agreed to pay for and put in a partial greenway and make improvements to Craven Street (where New Belgium is located).  It’s part of the Memorandum of Understanding and Economic Development Agreement and allows for cash grants to New Belgium of at least $2.1 million.From June 12, 2012 City Council Minutes: “Public Infrastructure: In addition to the economic development incentive agreement, the City has agreed to make some improvements to the infrastructure in the area of New Belgium’s proposed Craven Street location, and on the property itself. The improvements include widening Craven Street and improving som…

Asheville Political Theatre

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Programs!  Get your programs here! The AU guide to who’s playing what part on City Council this election year “All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts … “
--  Shakespeare, As You Like ItA governing body is like the cast of characters in a play.  Well, actually it’s more like a repertory company where the same group of people takes on different roles as new scenarios are presented.  
Nowhere is that more evident than right here in Asheville.   Just when you think you’ve got the cast straight in your mind, along comes election year with a whole new script, and all the parts get shuffled, or new ones get invented.
So as a public service AU presents herewith a rundown of who’s playing what role on city council as we approach this year's elections:
Mayor Esther Manheimer (Head of State, now Nanny-in-Chief) is seeking her second term in November.  By day Manheimer is a mild-mannered lan…

Frack On. Frack Off.

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“Fracking should be abolished in the state of North Carolina.” Debate report (and editorial) of Asheville High/SILSA Speech and Debate Team by Mark Cates About Asheville High/SILSA Speech and Debate Team On March 3, 2017, the Asheville High/SILSA Speech and Debate Team conducted a debate.  The resolution posed was, “Fracking should be abolished in the state of North Carolina.”  Despite the resolution, all sides pretty much agreed, fracking in North Carolina isn’t much of an issue these days. But let’s slow down and talk about something that is happening in North Carolina.  Turns out, the Asheville High/SILSA Speech and Debate Team drills through opponents like a wildcatter drills through shale.  The team has qualified for nationals nearly every year for over two decades and reached number one overall in the Harvard National Cumulative Rankings for the Congressional Debate event. However, as any good wildcatter can tell you, cash is king. The debate team could use an infusion of capital.  Y…

Asheville considers lowering property tax rate, but new projects being considered

Decrease the Property Tax Rate?
Yesterday Asheville City held one of three budget work sessions to prepare for the Fiscal Year 2017/18 operating and capital improvements budget.  The big question was whether or not the City would be increasing the property tax rate due to the significant city-wide property revaluation increases of 25% or more that property owners recently received. As you know, the City approved a $74 million bond last November which the City said would require a property tax increase to pay the debt and principal.
Revenue Neutral
Barbara Whitehorn, the City's Financial Director ($157,000 in salary & benefits), said the City could actually lower the property tax rate to .395 (3.95 cents), meaning at that rate, the city would be "revenue-neutral." Revenue neutral means the City could receive the same amount of money without having to increase taxes and could cover it's annual budget.
The Bond needs 3.5 cents
However, in order to implement the $74 mi…

City of Asheville: taking on the development game

City gets into the development game: RADTIP Asheville Unreported attended the first of three city budget work session meetings held yesterday, March 15th and also attended the Asheville Area Riverfront Redevelopment Commission ("AARRC") monthly meeting held last Thursday, March 9th. If you're not aware, the AARRC is in charge of all riverfront development within the City (Swannanoa River as well as French Broad River) including the massive $50 million project known as RADTIP (River Arts District Transportation Improvement Project). A recurring theme in both meetings was concern over rising construction costs.  The RADTIP project,  approved in early 2013, was originally supposed to cost $50 million, of which $14.6 would be funded by a Federal “TIGER VI” grant. The plan was that City and its taxpayers would then be responsible for $22 to $25 million and the remaining would costs would be covered by various grants. Now the RADTIP project includes four greenways, a roundabout…

Asheville’s transit system is bleeding out, But Cecil Bothwell has good news.

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Councilman wants to test robotic shuttle vehicles in downtown Asheville By Roger McCredie The City of Asheville’s bus service is hemorrhaging money at the rate of more than $5 million a year, but forget that; there’s great news on another transit front.  Councilman Cecil Bothwell sees a way to relieve the city’s chronic parking problem and make it fun to get around downtown. Bothwell has seen the future, and it doesn’t have a driver. Viva Las Vegas For several days last month the City of Las Vegas conducted an experiment in multimodal transportation:  it put electric shuttle vehicles to work ferrying people up and down the city’s busy Fremont Street.   But these shuttles were different from conventional ones.  They had no human operators.  They piloted themselves by means of computer programming and electronic sensors. Bothwell said he has been communicating with the conductors (no pun intended) of the Vegas experiment and wants “to bring the test to Asheville in the not distant future.” “Thi…