At CIBO breakfast, City Manager Gary Jackson, County Commissioners' Chair David Gantt to speak on budgets, Council member Cecil Bothwell on Sanctuary City proposal. 50+ people gathered for CIBO breakfast, relatively large turnout. Immigration, budgets popular issues.
County Commish Chair David Gantt: "Like any business, we had to cut back" but produced solid budget, no tax raise. County budget $327 mil, $500,000 less than last year. Sales tax, permit revenue down. Gantt: "Buncombe has fewer employees than 10 yrs ago. We get it... Have to become more efficient."
County Manager Wanda Greene, answering question: $76 million spent on social services, food stamp demand up 76 percent. One CIBO member: "County's done a hell of a job," prepared for downturn better than Asheville. Gantt suggesting CIBO invite DSS head Mandy Stone to explain social services, "welfare's not what you think."
City Council member Cecil Bothwell speaking on civil liberties resolution, which includes APD not enforcing federal immigration law. Bothwell citing report endorsed by Cary, LA police chiefs that cities where local PD don't enforce immigration laws have lower crime. Bothwell: Threat to jobs comes from NAFTA, jobs going overseas, not immigrant workers here, who pay taxes, spend money.
Bothwell citing report by Cato Institute that legalizing immigrant workers would boost economy. He notes native-born males 5 times more likely to commit crimes than immigrants. Border cities, counties tend to be low crime. Bothwell: "Guessing most of us here are immigrants or descendants of immigrants... People who immigrate are fearless... blame's on the wrong people, should be on Congress" for laws that let corporations move overseas.
Audience member: "If can't change the law, have to enforce it." Resolution "a slap in the face" to laws of country.
Bothwell: "Agree 100%" on need for law enforcement, reform, but harms local police's ability to get info, solve crimes to enforce immigration law "it's a federal problem."
Another audience member: "Don't know whether you're naive or delusional" says illegal immigrants have ruined Houston. Bothwell: All resolution would do is continue current APD policy, "that's what the police chief has requested"
Local developer Jerry Sternberg: "which of you have employed illegal immigrants? Don't raise your hands, we all have." Speaking of immigration raid on business brought on by former Council member Carl Mumpower: "That's legal, but what msg does it send?"
Bothwell: "Not against enforcing immigration laws, I'm against local police enforcing this," needs to be dealt w federally, invites feedback from CIBO.
City Manager Gary Jackson speaking on budget: "One of the more boring topics, it's a no-frills budget." Jackson: Have avoided laying people off, cut back on community ctr hours, brush collection, temp positions, froze salaries. "We have a balanced budget. No tax increase, no layoffs, only minor reductions in service, nothing from fund balance."
One man suggesting replacing some full-time employees with part-timers, as no benefits required.
Jackson: "Downtown is hopping, think we'll have good forecast" but doesn't want to rely on that. City using contract employees for audits, temp replacement for budget director, "open to being flexible."
Jackson on greenways: "We've funded one greenway in last 5 years" generally partnered with county, private donors to get greenways. City is considering partnering with county to create "Park District" to manage, fund maintenance, expansion, Jackson says.
Jackson on funding issues w Pack Conservancy: "Until they raise that $2 mil, we're holding an IOU and I'm not comfortable w that." However, he adds, "it's a beautiful park."
Applause greeting Jackson, Gantt talking about SoCon basketball tournament coming 2012-14. "A far cry from 5 years ago," in Jackson's words.
Read more articles in:News