Asheville City Council got glimpses of a variety of issues facing the city, including finances and state legislation. It also approved rules that make expansions and renovations of one-story buildings in downtown easier.
• The city’s financial situation is, according to staff, roughly holding steady, but with some areas of concern. Property tax revenues are slightly down from the city’s projections, with .6 percent growth to the property tax base this year, but sales tax revenues are doing slightly better than expected. Due to decreasing federal transit subsidies and Civic Center revenue, both those services could need additional funds from the city.
The city will hold budget worksessions March 12, March 19 and April 4 to discuss the situation further.
• However, state legislation could affect the city’s situation. Proposals to eliminate cities’ extra-territorial jurisdiction (an area just outside city limits where its zoning rules apply) as or forcing a transfer of Asheville’s water system to the Metropolitan Sewerage District, might impact the city’s budget.
City Manager Gary Jackson informed Council that state legislators have proposed some sweeping changes to the tax code, and have made no promise to leave cities’ revenue at current levels. “Everything is under review,” he noted.
• Council unanimously approved rules easing the expansion and renovation of one-story buildings in downtown, especially allowing the addition of stories. The city’s rules for downtown were written in an era when more new multi-story construction was expected. But, planner Alan Glines told Council, staff have seen more requests for renovations or modifications of existing structures, so these rules changes will aid in the redevelopment of downtown.
Council member Cecil Bothwell asserted that taller buildings are less energy efficient, so he had problems with the city’s code encouraging them in downtown, but voted for the measure anyway.