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Showing posts from April, 2017

City drops tax rate and scales back new projects

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In a surprise move, the City of Asheville decided to drop the property tax rate to revenue neutral at 3.95 cents and review its budget to cut waste and over spending.

Why? It's Christmas in July except it's just April!
The City will see massive increases in property tax revenue because of the 30% increase in property revaluations citywide.The City won its water system lawsuit, regaining millions it thought it might lose.The City recently increased fees on stormwater charges, water fees, development charges, and parking fees which will bring in another $1.5 million.The City has seen unprecedented hotel development, promising hundreds of thousands of new tourists in the next couple of years!The City's newest tourist attraction, New Belgium, has opened with the promise of hundreds of thousands of visitors each year!
NOT.  If it sounds too good to be true, it is.
Despite all of this, the City Council is actually considering increasing property tax rates above revenue neutral.  …

City of Asheville Budget Highlights - where does the money go?

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Today is the 3rd and last budget worksession meeting held by the City of Asheville as they prepare to release the first draft of the 2017 fiscal year budget.  It will cover the Capital Improvements Program (see below) which last year was $27 million of the operating budget.

Here are some important numbers to keep track of as we go into this year's budget:

2016 Budget Highlights

 $161 million was the 2016 budget.Of this, $95 million is for salaries/wages/benefits (53%), the largest expenditure. This year the City proposes another wage increase of roughly $1.8 million.$46 million is spent in Operating Costs$12.7 million is spent in debt service (bonds that were previously issued)$16.4 million is spent in capital outlay - streets, greenways, new equipment, etc.$27 Million Capital Improvements Program - today's budget meeting is to discuss the CIP (Capital Improvements Program), a rolling 5 year plan to pay for Capital Projects.  The total last year for the 5 years was $149 million.…

The Great Bait and Switch: Affordable Housing or Energy Bond?

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Updated April 21, 2017
Last week before the City's last budget meeting, we wrote the following article. However, at the budget meeting on Tuesday, April 11th, it appears there may have been a change of heart.  The amounts have been diminished and perhaps the source of the funding. We won't know the final outcome until the budget is released in May.  Either way, this information is still relevant and one to track as the city goes back and forth on its budget plans.

Published: April 10, 2017
Last November, voters approved a $74 million bond package of which $25 million would be dedicated to Affordable Housing.  When the City promoted the $25 million affordable housing bond it stated that $15 million would go to repurposing city-owned land for affordable housing and the other $10 million would go to the Housing Trust fund.
There goes $500,000

Well, it looks like the City Council is already going back on what it promised during the 2016 summer campaign for the bonds. At the budget wo…

Spin Makes the News Go Round

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The Late, Great Citizen-Times These days “The Voice of the Mountains” is neither. PART TWO OF TWO Click here to read Part One By Roger McCredie

Spin Makes the News Go “Round

“I am fully aware that members of the business community consider the Asheville Citizen-Times a liberal rag. I have made some adjustments to our editorial positions. I am making some adjustments to the editorial board. I am probably bringing the paper slightly back towards the center from where it is. I’ll probably never go as far as you guys would like me to go.” --Jeffrey Green, then-Publisher of the Asheville Citizen-Times, to the Council of Independent Business Owners April, 2007 All newspapers have opinions.  In a perfect world they are expressed on the editorial page.  But human nature being what it is, journalists’ biases frequently bleed into what’s supposed to be objective news coverage.  When that is done intentionally, so as to control or even reshape a narrative, it’s called spin.  Critics say the Citizen-Time…

The Late, Great Citizen-Times

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These days “The Voice of the Mountains” is neither. PART ONE OF TWO
By Roger McCredie It was the paper of John Parris and Bob Terrell.  Of Nancy Marlowe and Susan Reinhardt.  And latterly of Tony Kiss, Barbara Blake and Bob Berghaus.  O. Henry and F. Scott Fitzgerald used to hang out in its newsroom.  Young Thomas Wolfe trudged Asheville’s predawn streets delivering copies from a bag filled by his brother Ben, who worked in circulation. The paper found its way each morning into battered mailboxes at the ends of dirt driveways from Morganton to Murphy. Each morning it appeared in racks on small-town sidewalks, on the shelves of general stores, and in little local libraries where readers who didn’t have a spare nickel for their own copies could at least read one second-hand.  Each morning the Asheville Citizen-Times fed news and features and sports to information-hungry Western North Carolina, the state’s redheaded stepchild.  It was, for many years, “The Voice of the Mountains,” just as i…

Judge denies motion to dismiss anti-bond lawsuit

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Plaintiffs win round one By Roger McCredie A Superior Court judge on Wednesday denied a motion by the City of Asheville to dismiss a lawsuit that seeks to have the results of last November’s $74 bond referendum declared invalid on grounds that the bond language was misleading. Judge R. Greg Horne said in his order that the action, brought by retired attorney Sidney M. Bach and former Asheville Vice Mayor Chris Peterson, “is sufficient to state a claim,” meaning that the case will now proceed. Bach and Peterson filed their suit on December 20, charging that the language of the bond questions, as approved by city council and presented to voters on the Nov. 8 ballot, was “defective,” causing “an unfair misrepresentation of material facts” that made all three bond questions “inaccurate, prejudicial and misleading.” The public notices advertising referendum said the city “shall” or “will” levy new taxes in an amount sufficient to pay for the bonds.  But a subsequent city council resolution back…