Thursday, June 29, 2017

Beaucatcher Blues

The ongoing war for the soul of Asheville’s pet mountain
By Roger McCredie
Managing Editor
James Washington Patton had a flirty sister-in-law from Charleston named Charlotte Kerry, who encouraged gentleman callers to take her for strolls up the ridge to the east of downtown Asheville.  Patton teasingly began calling the mountain “Charlotte’s beau catcher.”  The name stuck.
Beaucatcher Mountain from downtown Asheville about 1890
(Photo Citation: E. M. Ball Photographic Collection (1918-1969), D. H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804)
Beaucatcher Mountain rises in North Asheville behind the old Manor Inn grounds. Within a few hundred yards it reaches its 2,694-foot summit – about five hundred feet above town level – and then it parallels Charlotte Street for about a mile, bisected by the deep notch of the I-240 open cut (1980) and Beaucatcher Tunnel (1927). Finally the west side slopes downward and peters out with a kink above the city’s abandoned White Fawn Reservoir. The east side looms above Haw Creek and Tunnel Road, tailing off in Kenilworth.
In the summer Beaucatcher presents as a long green shoulder; in winter, the loss of its leafy canopy reveals that it is spider-webbed with narrow, twisty roads serving a liberal scattering of houses. The homes are older and modest on the lower slopes, but they increase in size and value in direct proportion to altitude.

In 1921 a group of local movers and shakers began exploring ways to sell Asheville’s scenery. The town hired noted city planner John Nolen, famous for his work in Boston and Florida, to produce what amounted to Asheville’s very first “city plan,” which included a proposed overlook park that would run in a quarter circle around town from Beaucatcher all the way to what became the site of Asheville High.

Nolen’s vision, promulgated when Asheville’s population and area were one-third of what they are today, has been seized on as a sort of manifest-destiny mantra by the present city government and community greenway proponents. The proposed Beaucatcher Greenway is supposed to be the jewel in the crown of Asheville’s “River to Ridge” greenway network. Its footprint runs from Helen’s Bridge in the north down and across the spine of the mountain to White Fawn -- above McCormick Field and Memorial Stadium – and, proponents say, affording excellent biking and hiking, as well as spectacular views of downtown.

But it’s also the only greenway in that network that would run through several long-established neighborhoods. It also cuts smack across what has been called the last wild woodland within the city limits, – travelling across the steep slope of a mountain whose unsteady, shaly rock foundation and thin, runoff-prone soil have been problematic from day one. One resident called the plan, with its 1.2 miles of ten-foot-wide asphalt trails and its 14-foot retaining walls “an act of vandalism.” Others have produced documents showing that the city has fiddled the numbers of old-growth trees that are to be removed. All in all, critics say, the Beaucatcher plan is another example of city government’s reckless disregard for the consequences of pushing through a pet project. Nearby residents complain that the greenway’s path threatens not only their privacy but their property itself.

Route of Beaucatcher Greenway (City of Asheville Greenways)
Among those affected are the residents of Sky Club Condominiums, the three-story mansion that was first a private home and later a popular restaurant and inn. The greenway parallels and partly overlaps Ardmion Road, which the Sky Club uses as a private, gated driveway but which the city claims has a public right-of-way. "The Sky Club is not your park," Nancy Brown, president of the Sky Club homeowners association, told the city last year. "The Sky Club is a historic building for this city, and its look will be diminished by adding a walkway in front of it."

Subsequent tweaks to the design reduced the city’s encroachment on Ardmion from 27 feet to 14, but the residents are still contemplating legal action. Their attorney is Albert Sneed, who is a member of the same law firm as Mayor Esther Manheimer, who has recused herself from the Sky Club discussions.

Jan Howard, who says she is being “squeezed out” of her Reservoir Road historic home by the greenway plans, called them “an atrocity meant to make a few rich people richer,” adding, “ Many of the plan’s designers have already made big bucks purchasing and flipping sensitive lands. All the oldtimers know it.”

Then there’s the cost. Last year Iona Thomas of Stewart Engineering, designers of the greenway project, said rapidly rising construction costs could eventually exceed $4 million, far in excess of the $1.5 million-per-mile figure often cited as the average price of greenway development. Present estimated cost of the project, however, is $4.7 million, more than triple the benchmark figure.

Last October the Tourism Development Authority approved a $1.7 million grant to be split between the French Broad and Beaucatcher greenways; the city will have to make up the difference from its general fund but is said to be seeking unspecified federal funding for up to 80 per cent of the difference.

The city let bids for the project in March.

A “Mountain Bald Experience”

Meanwhile, a local group has big plans for that old, abandoned reservoir.

The Friends of Beaucatcher Overlook Park is a nonprofit dedicated to fulfilling the vision of the late Steve Jones, who lived on nearby Town Mountain but had a consuming interest in establishing a park on the White Pine site. Jones bequeathed $25,000 towards the pursuit of that goal.

Accordingly the Friends recently commissioned Equinox Environmental of Asheville to design a master plan that would use the bones of the old reservoir as the foundation for a mountainside park.

The president of Equinox is David Tuch, husband of City of Asheville Planning Director Shannon Tuch.

Equinox unveiled its plan in April. It envisions an elaborate interpretive and recreational space that features such amenities as a covered “community porch,” a series of terraced viewpoints ranging from “large gathering” to “small intimate” sizes, an “iconic viewing platform” and a “pervious parking” area with “ stormwater treatment features [and] use of native and edible plants.”

Equinox Environmental’s rendering of its proposed Beaucatcher Overlook Park

The main feature of the proposed design is a central area devoted to what the plan calls a “mountain bald experience,” which, Equinox says, will replicate “a true mountain bald.”

Balds – grassy expanses devoid of trees and shrubs – are natural phenomena found only on the summits of certain mountains; nearby ones include Max Patch and Big Bald, both in Madison County. Balds’ bareness allows for spectacular 360-degree views. It is not clear how Equinox plans to achieve this effect from halfway up a hill, but drawings indicate an open space that will contain a “grass bald plant community.” A paved path would connect all this to Beaucatcher Greenway.

Total cost of the project is put at $3 million. FOBO is seeking funding.

And up top, the building beat goes on …

Atop the south end of Beaucatcher and spilling down both its faces is Beaucatcher Heights, a 64-parcel development where building activity has resumed in earnest after several years of recession-caused stagnation. According to its website it offers “incredible proximity to downtown and Biltmore Village, large homesites (many with incredible long-range mountain views), and a true "neighborhood feel.”   In addition to all this incredibility Beaucatcher heights bills itself as “one of the only master planned communities close to downtown Asheville offering such a rare mix.”

The current view from the top of Beaucatcher, looking west. 

Hence the southern top of Beaucatcher is presently an expanse of raw red earth and scattered gravel, inhabited by trucks and bulldozers. Further down are large homes in various stages of construction. Conservationists and nearby residents view the situation with alarm but say the developer is home free thanks to a significant loophole in city planning and zoning regulations: Beaucatcher Heights homes are single family dwellings, and that designation makes the project exempt from city council approval.

That fact has frustrated and angered a number of residents in Kenilworth, the historic old neighborhood at the eastern foot of Beaucatcher, since activity first began on the development site in 2007. The concerns there now, as then, are stormwater runoff and neighborhood disruption.
Looking east towards Kenilworth (sort of) from the top of Beaucatcher
The development’s boundaries also threatened those of the South Asheville Cemetery, the city’s historic black community burying ground which was founded in the 1840’s. Early on, the Beaucatcher Heights construction crew installed silt fencing along the recorded boundaries of the cemetery, but local historians and black community leaders maintained – and still do – that in addition to the more than 2,000 graves accounted for, more are likely to be found within what is now the Beaucatcher Heights property. Proof is elusive, scholars and townspeople say, because some of those interred were probably slaves, their graves marked only with makeshift materials, or not at all.

A large new home under construction on Reservoir Road

A recent check showed eight homesites currently available in Beaucatcher Heights, with a price range of $129,000 to $449,000.

“Whoever said, ‘You can’t eat view’ never sold real estate in Asheville,” a local wag said.


# # # # #

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

City of Asheville considers spending $100K to find new bank with no ties to fossil fuels

Yep. You read that right. This is NOT fake news.

If you want to get a hint of what a strange city we live in, attend any council meeting or any meeting of the 30+ boards and commissions and committees.

In March of this year the City's Finance Committee considered a proposal to move the City's banking services from Wells Fargo because of that bank's investment in the Dakota Access Pipe Line. At the June 27th Finance Committee meeting, a presentation was made to further that process.  Council members Julie Mayfield, Gwen Wisler and Cecil Bothwell are the council members who make up the Finance Committee.  The presentation was made by the City's financial advisor, Doug Carter of DEC Associates, a Charlotte based company that provides consulting to many other NC municipalities.  Mr. Carter, a former city finance director himself (with Charlotte) came prepared.

What transpired reveals the impractical, sometimes bizarre, demands of some of our council members. In short...

The Finance Committee is considering spending over $100,000 and devoting a minimum of 6 months of staff time and resources to changing the City's banking services. Why? Not because the current fees are too high or the current banking services are inadequate.  No, they want a bank that doesn't invest in fossil fuels.  The narrow mindedness of this Council is apparent.  The consultant, Mr. Carter, and even Barbara Whitehorn, the city's chief financial officer, tried to delicately dance around the issue while Julie Mayfield and Cecil Bothwell clearly had a one track mind.  Gwen Wisler looked like a ping-pong ball between the two of them, trying to stay in the middle of an unreasonable argument.

The issues that came up, but were totally ignored were:

1) Even if a bank today doesn't invest in fossil fuels, how can it promise to NEVER invest in them? How would they know and what what would they do? As the consultant stated, banks are run by boards and those members do what is best for their shareholders which means investing in profitable industries.  Also, boards change so even if the policy today was to not invest in fossil fuels, this could change down the road.

2)  Cecil was bothered by Wells Fargo's recent fraudulent activity in setting up false accounts.  Wells Fargo was fined $185 million and continues to operate today.  But again, just because a bank today has a stellar record, what would the City do if that were to change?

3) What if the bank the City chooses is bought by another bank that does invest in fossil fuels or has an unsavory reputation?  This happens frequently especially with smaller regional banks.

4) The City Council itself is bound to change.  (Too bad we don't have council term limits.) What about future Councils and their city policies and priorities?

5) Ms. Mayfield mentioned that several community members are supportive of this change but really, how many?  IS the City about to embark on a costly, time consuming change for a few people? The Council needs to be reminded that they represent ALL of Asheville, even those they do not agree with.

6) The Consultant informed the Committee that there is no national bank that could meet their fossil fuel investment restriction requirements.  The Council would have to find a local or regional bank to fulfill that requirement but does one exist?

7) Will the City's banking services suffer? The Consultant reminded the Council that the City has a complex system of banking services it uses - it's not just about deposits.  The City utilizes coin counting (parking meters); debt services and payment collection services (such as water bills, licenses and permits, etc.).  Any change would be potentially disruptive and any mistakes would cost the City.

Part of the process of changing banks would require a RFP (Request for Proposal) to invite other qualified banks to submit applications.  Traditionally, this is done based on fees and ability to provide all banking services needed.  In this case, the Finance Committee would like to make fossil fuel investments the priority for selection.

When Ms. Mayfield asked what impact this kind of restriction would have on banks responding to an RFP, the consultant... in the kindest way stated "it would damper the process" and added he had not ever seen an RFP done this way.  Instead of comparing bank services and costs and fees, our City Council is placing more importance on the bank's investment policy which of course, is subject to change.

Despite these warnings, Ms. Mayfield was persistent in her demands for asking staff to research and review banks that fit the criteria based on fossil fuel investments.  Banking services and fees are a secondary criterion.  It appears Ms. Mayfield has pushed her own organization's agenda to the top of all other taxpayer needs. Ms. Mayfield is the co-director of Mountain True whose mission is "...champions resilient forests, clean waters and healthy communities in Western North Carolina."

These actions could be viewed as a potential conflict of interest for Ms. Mayfield.  Is she pushing the use of taxpayer funds for her own organization's political agenda? At the least, it's a frivolous waste of taxpayer dollars when you consider all the other budget concerns.

Asheville's champagne taste exceeds its beer budget

Ineptitude and Mismanagement Lead to

$26 million budget over run for River Arts District improvements

Last week it was announced that the City of Asheville will have to make drastic reductions in their plans that were meant to improve 2.2 miles on Riverside Drive along the French Broad River because the actual construction bids came in at double the amount to taxpayers than the City estimated. This project is called "RADTIP" which stands for River Arts District Transportation Improvement Project.  

The original figure was $26 million from the City taxpayers plus $24 million from grants for a total estimated cost of $50 million. The new figure? Double the portion from city taxpayers to $52 million for a grand new total of $76 million.  

Since the City doesn't have an additional $26 million, it has to scale back, reduce, cut its plans or what the City has coined "value engineer" the entire RADTIP project.  

Mismanagement and Ineptitude

This is the latest and largest example of gross mismanagement by our City Manager, Gary Jackson (who earns $220k a year) and the ineptitude of our City Mayor, Esther Manheimer and this current slate of City Council members who cannot or will not hold Gary Jackson and other staff accountable or responsible for such a gross error.  Instead, they all get a 2.5% raise this year and a slap on the wrist.

It should not have been a "shock" as stated by Stephanie Monson Dahl who is in charge of this project. On several occasions Asheville Unreported has written about this miscalculation in construction estimates.  Local business owner and resident, Chris Peterson even warned them over a year ago in the City Council May 17, 2016 budget meeting... 

"If you think your number $60 million is going to hold up in a construction business that annually goes up 10% then you need to be working in a construction company."

Can anyone name a City project during Mr. Jackson's tenure that has not been over budget or a complete disaster?  Remember, Mr. Jackson was asked to resign or be terminated from his last position in Texas.  In Asheville, the latest disaster in the works is Eagle Market Street. If RADTIP is like the other projects Mr. Jackson has managed in his last 12 years here, then we know several things will happen:

1) The final cost will probably be around $100 million.  There isn't a project he's managed that hasn't cost double the original estimate.  

2) It will probably take 6 years to complete, not the estimated 3.  

3) There will be a major problem uncovered that will delay and cost taxpayers even more.

4) Lastly, Gary Jackson will have to resort to generating more debt to cover his mistakes. It appears that hints of this are already being introduced as one council member is already suggesting using the $74 million worth of bonds that were approved last November.  Keep in mind though, that those bonds were earmarked (at least that is what they were sold to the public on) for many other city projects - not this one.


UPDATE 6.28.2017 - It appears the taxpayer debt is already getting higher. At last night's City Council meeting, the Council approved an additional $4.7 million in debt proceeds for the project.
In other media articles and during last night's City Council meeting the City staff were "shocked" and surprised by this turn of events.  Council is proclaiming ignorance; that they were not informed.  Not so.  The River and RADTIP has become the City's ultimate ponzi scam scheme to bilk grant monies from organizations and triple the City's debt load in a flood prone zone and it all started with beer that turned into champagne and then went sour.

New Belgium Brewery - the "Catalyst"

In April 2012, New Belgium announced Asheville as its east cost brewery and distribution site.  This became the "catalyst" for the City of Asheville to apply for a Federal Highway Grant to widen the road along Riverside Drive and lower the road at the Norfolk Southern Trestle Bridge in order to accommodate New Belgium's trucks.  

This coalesced into a shared vision when the City obtained the Federal Tiger VI Grant of $14.6 million in September 2014.  

Champagne taste



As stated by Mr. Jackson, the City then used that grant award to convince other county/state/tourism development authorities and organizations to contribute to the rest of their plans to clean up the industrial/artsy River Arts District and turn it into a new urbanized riverfront development oasis, complete with greenways, parks, new pedestrian bridges, "multimodal improvements" and even a new form based code designed to keep out any new industrial businesses.  Over time, the City was able to eke out an additional $10 million in grants from these other organizations.

At this point the total estimated cost was $50 million of which City taxpayers would contribute $26 million and the remainder would come from the grants and the Tiger VI monies.  

Beer Budget not enough

Though New Belgium assisted the City in whenever and however it could, it simply was not enough. They even supported Asheville on Bikes' petition to have protected bike lanes rather than just standard bike lanes although it would cost an additional $1 million.  The City approved that change in the nick of time (July 2015).  Despite all of that, it turns out the estimated $50 million was not enough to meet the demands of Asheville's champagne taste for luxury bike lanes and greenways. Those protected bike lanes are getting cut.  A wannabe developer, the City of Asheville just doesn't understand construction.

Taxpayers should hold the City Manager, Gary Jackson and this City Council accountable

Since 2012, the City has already expended $13 million toward this ponzi scam scheme known as RADTIP.  City Manager, Gary Jackson, used it to convince other organizations to give money toward this project.  That's $13 million that could have been used on other, more important priorities. City leaders diverted their priorities and the budget from other areas of the City to this 2.2 mile stretch. They prioritized bike lanes ahead of bus transit and needed sidewalk and road repairs and greenways ahead of public safety.  The City has further increased fees and charges and then diverted those to the River area money pit - major amounts of stormwater fees are going to the river for flood mitigation - why? BECAUSE IT FLOODS!

Taxpayers need to demand the resignation of Gary Jackson and stop his tax and spending spree.  

Taxpayers need to hold this Council accountable in this next election and elect members of the community that will hold City staff accountable and priorities in line.  

Taxpayers, no matter what, do not allow the City Council to divert the use of the $74 million bonds from the original slated projects to pay for these river mistakes. They will do it if you don't. We guarantee it.

by Mari Peterson, Research and Data for Asheville Unreported

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Mayor's broken record reveals misguided leadership

"Asheville gets twice as many tourists as Charleston"


Over the last year, Mayor Esther Manheimer has repeatedly stated that Asheville gets twice as many tourists as Charleston, stating Asheville gets 11 million visitors a year while Charleston gets half of that. According to her figures that would mean approximately 30,100 visitors each and every day, 365 days a year. She's seem stuck on this information. She used these figures during budget discussions and during the $74 million bond referendum meetings to justify the ever increasing debt the City is taking on.  We decided to take a closer look.

We first noticed it during the initial public meeting last October about the $74 million bond referendum as a reason why voters should pass the bonds.  She said it again during the first and third City budget worksessions in March and April, stating it was unfair that the City doesn't get any of the benefits of the growth of downtown businesses, only the costs (higher crime and wear and tear on our streets and sidewalks). And, finally, at the May 23rd council meeting held for public comment about this year's $175 million budget she repeated it with an explanation:
(1:51 in video)... (summary) The room tax which is now 6 cents does not flow directly to the City and the City has no authority over that.  The TDA's required mission by statute created by the legislature is to promote tourism in this area but they do get to use 1.5% to go into a fund for cities to apply for capital projects (capital costs only, not for personnel). This has definitely created a hardship for Asheville because cities like Charleston are able to use their room tax for safety such as costs related to policing.  We have a lot of tourists in our town and actually Asheville has double the number of tourists that Charleston does. We are now at 11 million tourists and Charleston has half that amount.  (Click here to watch and listen to the video)
Visitors vs. Hotel Stays reflect different numbers
To correct the Mayor, the visitor data she cites actually  refers to all of Buncombe County, not just City of Asheville. Buncombe County includes municipalities with their own government and budgets - Biltmore Forest, Black Mountain, Montreat, Weaverville, and Woodfin.  Asheville does have attractions such as the Biltmore Estate, Grove Park Inn and the many parks and mountain trails associated with the Blue Ridge Parkway that attract many visitors. Buncombe County estimates 11 million visitors but can only verify with real data the number of overnight stays (hotel stays) as 3.8 million. Comparing that figure to Charleston, the Charleston Chamber reports an additional 1 million overnight stays.

Mayor should look beyond tourism

Our Mayor focuses on tourism, the kind of focus that has kept Asheville a mountain tourism town instead of focusing on creating a thriving business sector with year round, well paying jobs.  Perhaps she should review the other economic data that differentiates Charleston from Asheville.

25,000 jobs

Charleston has a very active tourism industry like Asheville, but Charleston also has a successful and growing manufacturing business sector (Boeing, Blackbaud, Nucor Steel, Volvo, etc.), which between 2015 and 2019 is projected to bring 25,000 new jobs to the area.  It is also one of the top 100 metro cities in the nation in Advanced Industries Sector growth.

Charleston has rapid population growth vs. Asheville's flat growth

It's no wonder that Charleston is experiencing such rapid population growth.  Charleston just outranked Columbia SC in population (134,385 and expected to be 142,848 by end of 2017). Asheville's population is expected to be about 87,000 to 90,000 by the end of 2017. That is the same population as Mount Pleasant, which is one municipality within Charleston County.

Approximately 34 people a day move to the Charleston Metro area compared to about 3 people a day that move to the Asheville area (Source: Citizen-Times).  Combined with the growing manufacturing industry, people are flocking to Charleston as permanent residents with high incomes spending their dollars in the Charleston area. They also have a thriving port business, cruise business and medical/healthcare business.  The City of Charleston alone has 8 colleges and 3 major medical centers in addition to the highest density of retail and restaurants in the area.

Millions in airport traffic vs. Asheville's less than 1 million

Asheville's Regional Airport had 826,648 passengers fly through in 2016 while Charleston will have an estimated 3.7 million passengers in 2017.  The numbers speak for themselves.

Asheville vs. Charleston SC - Comparing Budgets

Perhaps the Asheville Mayor should pay more attention to the City budget and how it compares to the City of Charleston.

The City of Charleston covers 112 square miles compared to 45 square miles of the City of Asheville. The Charleston city budget supports 600 more employees where they place a high value on public safety, naming it their number one concern and where they have the most employees.

What is surprising is that given the size of Charleston (twice that of Asheville in all respects), it does so with a manager/Mayor that earns less than Asheville's City Manager.

The Charleston City budget is only $64 million more than Asheville. That sounds like a lot but in one year, Asheville added $74 million to its debt with the approval of the bond referendum in November and an additional $10 million in salaries and benefits within a year and a half.  At this pace, Asheville's budget will exceed Charleston in a few short years though we employ far less employees and cover less than half the sidewalks and streets that Charleston maintains.

While Asheville may see a plethora of new restaurants, true business development growth can be measured in licenses and permits.  Last year Asheville brought in $6 million in licenses and permits while Charleston is projected to bring in $44 million this year.


The Most Important Difference is Governance, Leadership and Management

Perhaps the biggest difference between Asheville and Charleston is in governance and it's a difference the Mayor should pay more attention to especially as she runs for re-election this year.

Asheville is led by a Council-Manager form of governance which means the City Manager, Gary Jackson, can only be terminated by the City Council.  He does not answer to taxpayers and he can stay there until and unless they terminate him or he voluntarily leaves.

Charleston is run and managed by a Mayor-Council leadership where the Mayor is full-time and must be elected by voters every four years. Their Council is also elected from districts so both the City Mayor who runs the City AND their Council answer to voters.  In short, their "manager/Mayor" and their Council must answer to voters, a striking difference between the two cities.

Charleston Mayor gets paid less than Asheville City Manager

This difference is best seen in comparing the two salaries - Asheville's current city manager, Gary Jackson, was making an annual salary in 2015 of $183,968, not counting fringe benefits which adds another 30%.  The same year, Charleston's Mayor was only making $163,000.

So, while Asheville's Mayor can try to keep voters distracted with tourism numbers that don't compare apples to apples, perhaps she should be looking at the bigger picture of differences - city management, governance, fiscal responsibility and leadership, all of which have led to one of the fastest growing cities in South Carolina with permanent business development and growth.

By Mari Peterson, Research and Data for Asheville Unreported

Friday, June 16, 2017

Guest Post: The Unaffordable City

City Letter #9

The Unaffordable City

What most people don’t know is that our budget problems didn’t start in 2009 with the Great Recession. We actually had balanced budgets with cautious spending for years. Our problem started four years ago when Mayor Manheimer and her current council came to power. The last four years this council along with our city manager of 12 years, Gary Jackson, have been on a reckless spending spree causing our city budget to explode 70%.  Their out of control spending has caused them to raise Fees & Taxes six times in the last four years.  According to my figures they will need to keep raising them for the next 10 years. This council will need millions of dollars on top of the bond money to keep the government afloat with their current budget obligations. What really bothers me most about this group of self-serving Jackson bureaucrats is the methodical way they mislead the voters.

In last year’s budget they had to raise taxes so it would balance. What’s really scary is that it had a $154 million dollar budget with zero money left for the savings account. This year’s $176 million budget is worse. They had to raise taxes, pass a $74 million bond, and reevaluate everybody’s properties and there’s still ZERO money in the savings account.  How do you do that?  The Jackson bureaucrats hit us with these taxes in the two weeks and the reason they did this was to ensure they have money for their high salaries, which is up $10 million dollars over the last year.

You don’t have to be a mathematician or a business expert to know that if you are spending $90 million in salaries and only taking in $87 million in property and sales tax, that is a huge red flag. Other problems that have contributed greatly is that you have five city managers averaging $250,000 a year, a mayor and council that have zero budget experience and only rubber stamp a budget that is spoon fed to them by Jackson.

Now you can see why the 1% Jackson bureaucrats need to keep feeding the machine. The machine has to pay for high salaries, unneeded greenways, a broke transit system, a river that floods, Belgium Beer Company promises, cheap tourist jobs, water bills and taxes.

The good news is that City Manager Gary Jackson will be retiring and moving away in 2018 which is the year all the bills come due. Unfortunately, he won’t be here to pay the price but we will.

Taxpayers have been lied to in the worst way for years but you won’t read this in our paper or hear it from the Chamber Zombies because they work hand in hand to keep this system going.
Chris Peterson
Asheville, NC

2nd Page - Budget Information

HISTORY OF ASHEVILLE CITY BUDGET SALARIES & BENEFITS

Fiscal Year (FY) Actual Figures
FY 2006
FY 2007
FY 2008
FY 2009
FY 2010
FY 2011
Salaries & Wages
43,476,117
48,183,920
52,247,513
52,078,596
51,070,169
49,595,672
Fringe Benefits
13,430,104
15,775,166
17,324,479
18,583,874
20,497,591
21,201,534
Salaries & Benefits Total =
56,906,221
63,959,086
69,571,992
70,662,470
71,567,760
70,797,206







Total FTE Positions
1060.92
1162.17
1160.05
1148.53
1142.41
1139.83

Fiscal Year (FY) Actual Figures
FY 2012
FY 2013
FY 2014
FY 2015
2016 Projected Actual
2017 Proposed
Salaries & Wages
50,664,726
51,735,685
54,202,619
56,807,685
60,915,323
63,404,183
Fringe Benefits
19,476,861
19,048,729
22,310,427
22,900,506
24,683,958
27,077,277
Salaries & Benefits Total =
70,141,587
70,784,414
76,513,046
79,708,191
85,599,281
90,481,460







Total FTE Positions
1132.24
1139.93
1149.43
1188.38
1204.92
1248.01

HISTORY OF CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS
ROLLING 5 YEAR TOTALS

Each year about $25 to $35 million comes from general fund, the rest is debt financed

Note: FY 2017-2018 includes the $74 million bond for which the City has approved 3.5 cent tax increase to pay the debt charges. This tax will stay on for 20 years.


FY 2013-2014
FY 2014-2015
FY 2015-2016
FY 2016-2017
FY 2017-2018
Capital Improvement 5 year Program
$53,000,000
$132,000,000
$142,197,272
$149,000,000
200,000,000

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