Monday, July 24, 2017

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 aside for a City with $65 million in debt.  Another recession or major event such as a flood or fire could deplete those funds easily.

City Council members and candidates for the 2017 election should take note of this.  Since Council was "blindsided" by the recent $26 million budget overrun of RADTIP by City Staff, let's hope the Council is aware of this beginning leak of its rainy day fund.

Here is a link to the Memo from Cathy Ball

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