At an early meeting with only five of its usual seven members, Asheville City Council approved increases in water, trash and parking fees, among others, for the coming year. Mayor Terry Bellamy and Council member Gordon Smith were absent.
A $7 solid-waste fee — replacing the current $3.50 recycling fee — attracted the most discussion before the changes passed 5-0. Council member Jan Davis noted that many residents expect garbage collection as part of paying their property taxes, but that collecting solid waste is an expensive task. Council member Cecil Bothwell claimed that the fee increase, in addition to generating additional revenue, is part of the city adopting a “pay as you throw” framework that will reward recycling, composting and other measures that reduce the amount of waste going to the landfill. The eventual result of the changes, he said, will be that those who conserve more will pay less.
Council members also approved a 1 to 3 percent water-rate increase: Large, non-manufacturing businesses get the larger increase.
Parking rates also go up, including a 25 cents increase on 1-hour parking meter fees.
Council postponed decisions on other possible fee changes to recreational facilities, such as the Aston Park tennis courts and the city’s skatepark. Council will hold further budget discussions concerning those and other proposals.
Council also delayed discussing signage in the Weirbridge Village development until April 9, so the matter could go before the full Council.