With final approval of the downtown Asheville Business Improvement District pushed back to April 9, and with an early meeting with two members absent, on March 26 Asheville City Council will set fees and charges for the coming year. Increased parking, water, and garbage fees are on the agenda.
Unusually, Council’s March 26 meeting will be early, at 2:30 p.m. instead of the usual 5 p.m. Also, Mayor Terry Bellamy and Council member Gordon Smith will both be absent.
The remaining five members of Council will vote on the city’s fees and charges for the coming fiscal year. The biggest change is the replacement of the $3.50 a month recycling fee to a $7.00 per month solid waste fee. The increase is intended to promote recycling and raise an extra $1.1 million for the city coffers, which will help offset increased expenses without resorting to a property-tax increase.
Other proposals include raising parking fees by 25 cents, and water increases ranging from one to three percent, with the biggest increases for large commercial users. The proposal calls for creating a special class of water customer for manufacturers, who would have a much smaller increase than other businesses.
Consideration of the BID — a service nonprofit funded by a tax assessment on downtown property — will be delayed until April 9, when a full Council can vote on the proposal.
This isn’t the first delay the BID has encountered this year. On March 12 Council members expressed disappointment a full budget wasn’t ready for their perusal and bumped a vote on its bylaws to March 26. At their next meeting, BID board members shot back, with many harshly criticizing Council. But at its most recent meeting, March 21, the BID board approved revised bylaws that give Council more appointments and indicate that BID members are open to possible changes to their proposed budget, such as a reduced salary for the BID’s executive director. Previously, both city staff and BID board members believed that the BID’s tax rate had to be set before the beginning of April. However, Lauren Bradley, the city’s finance chief, tells Xpress that the county tax assessor’s office informed them it could still make the necessary preparations if the BID passes April 9.
Asheville City Council meets at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 26, on the second floor of City Hall.