LIVE: Asheville City Council: For a fee

LIVE: Asheville City Council: For a fee-attachment0

Some substantial revisions to the city’s fees are front and center at the April 12 Asheville City Council meeting. A change to water rates would raise costs for business and large customers while leaving the residential rates unchanged.

The proposed changes come from a report by Raftellis Financial Consulting, which found that Asheville’s water rate burden on residential customers is high, compared to other cities, and relatively light on large users and commercial users. The changes will generate an estimated $340,000 in additional revenue.

Other fee changes include setting all parking garage fees to the same rate (bringing in about $68,000 in additional revenue) and “minor fee changes proposed in the Civic Center, Golf, and Transit Enterprise Funds” generating about $37,980 a year. The changes, according to the staff report, “are designed to more fully recover the expenditures associated with providing specific services.”

Council will also vote on early voting sites for this year’s elections, consider a resolution committing the city to reducing its carbon footprint four percent each year for the next five years, and may direct staff to draft an incentive grant proposal for the 280-unit Weirbridge Village housing development in South Asheville.

The meeting begins at 5 p.m., Tuesday, April 12, in Council’s chambers on the second floor of City Hall. A pre-meeting budget briefing will begin at 3 p.m. in the first floor conference room. See below for live Twitter coverage.

— David Forbes, senior news reporter

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15 thoughts on “LIVE: Asheville City Council: For a fee

  1. J

    I like how the City just oversees its own elections and own polling places. Just like…no one else.

    How come the BOE doesn’t oversee this or choose the early site locations?

  2. Am I to understand that the City of Asheville is proposing increasing the cost of doing business for job creators?
    ………………………………..

  3. The City of Asheville needs to reduce expenses but it does not need to reduce its “carbon footprint.” No one does.
    ……………………………

  4. mcates

    According to Asheville City Council, having the right to vote on election day and having atleast one early voting station is now grounds for “disenfranchisement”.

    For this reason, they voted to spend money on voting stations that could have been used to provide core city services.

    Councilman Davis pointed out that for the city could have used the money to buy needed trucks.

    Shortly after voting to spend this money, council voted to increase fees for services for the 2nd year in a row.

  5. Gordon Smith

    FYI – Mr. Cates is a running for City Council this year.

    It’s my view that ensuring access to voting is a core function of government. Five members of Council chose to prioritize it. Our Capital Improvement Project budget, which we reviewed at a worksession yesterday, is going to get us caught up on fleet and building maintenance/replacement as well as providing for other community priorities.

    With the voter restrictions being pushed by GOP legislators (VoterID and limiting Buncombe voters to three votes for County Commission), it’s especially important that responsible government stand on the side of the voters.

  6. mcates

    Mat,

    According to this article in MountainX the assumption about who participates in early voting isn’t indicative of being poor. If you have different data, I would be interesting in reading it.

    In 2010: Almost 50 percent of Buncombe’s early voters were registered Democrats, about 31 percent Republican and 20.5 percent Unaffiliated. More than 93 percent were white, with an average age of 59

    This is about priorities, early voting was still going to be made available. There just would have been less locations. Asheville is not a very large town.

    According to a few on council, we are in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

    None of us know what we are going to see in funding from the feds or state.

    But we know that council has been struggling with the budget for the last few years. We know that revenue it down, while expenses are up. We know that city reserves are down. We know city employees have not had a raise in years. We know that community city hours have been cut. The list goes on.

    At this time, it would be wise to be selective in how we manage the limited financial resources available to Asheville.

    http://www.mountainx.com/news/2010/early_voting_ends_buncombe_county_turnout_more_than_30000

  7. mcates

    Thanks for the plug Gordon.

    Early voting is helpful in encouraging participation and as I was saying last night, we need more voter participation not less of it.

    At the same time, we also have to spend money responsibly.

    We are facing a real economic crisis in the area and on a daily basis I talk with people moving out of town to get a job. This morning I was talking with someone who is unemployed and is about to leave the city after living here since the early 90’s.

    I would suggest that responsible government stands on the side of providing water , police and fire departments, streets and sidewalks as well as access to the ballot.

    Responsible government also plans for the future. We all know the federal and state governments are going to be sending less and less money into our area. It is my opinion that being prepared for that reality should be a city priority.

    One of the reasons I am running for city council is that I don’t want my son to have to pay for the bills that we are incurring today. I do not believe as responsible parents we should be placing that burden on our children. I don’t believe we should even risk it.

    We know that the water situation is not good. We know that something is going on in the APD evidence room that is not good. We know last night council voted to settle a lawsuit with Cherie Bird involving the APD, despite her superiors repeatedly failing to take action. We know streets and sidewalks in the city need a lot of improvement.

    Hours have been cut at community centers, garbage pick-up has been cut and city employees are not getting raises. You know as well as anyone that the list goes on.

    When the city finances and the economy are on better footing is a more proper time to provide extra money for “additional” early voting locations, but for now we need to be more thoughtful in how we use the limited financial resources available to us.

  8. Nathan

    Mark,
    Why would you use facts, that takes all the fun out of it.

  9. According to the stats we were provided from the Board of Elections, about 20 percent of voters in the last election (with 4 satellite voting locations) cast votes early, with a price tag of about 23 percent of the total cost for the election. Given that low voter turnout is a significant problem, and that other states which offer alternatives to one-day polling are seeing an increase in turnout, the $24,000 we approved for this purpose in the fall of 2011 seems appropriate.

    It isn’t unreasonable to expect that as early voting gets more and more familiar, we could see an increase in those numbers.

    And, heh heh, I thought MrCates was performing like a candidate … always great to have a new face at Council meetings.

  10. mcates

    Cecil – I enjoyed being there and look forward to talking with you sometime.

    Mat – I don’t think one needs to be selective of the facts. I believe everyone currently serving on the council would agree that the city faces many challenges.

    I am certain I can work with everyone on council to ensure our city is prepared as well as possible.

    I think we need to realign our priorities in order to face the current economic environment with a more solid foundation and in addition, start preparing for the flood of red ink headed our way out of D.C. and Raleigh.

  11. mcates

    Cecil – I enjoyed being there and look forward to talking with you sometime.

    The city was surprised with a $175,000 expense last week. We have water outages on a recurring basis.

    I think everyone wants to encourage early voting, but it is important to pay attention to all of the money the city spends.

    Mat – I don’t think one needs to be selective of the facts. I believe everyone currently serving on the council would agree that the city faces many challenges.

    I am certain I can work with everyone on council to ensure our city is prepared as well as possible.

    I think we need to realign our priorities in order to face the current economic climate with a more solid foundation and in addition, start preparing for flood of red ink headed our way out of D.C. and Raleigh

  12. mcates

    Cecil,

    In your speech on March 17, 2011. You said, “The spending decisions being made in Washington are going to have sweeping effects on the national and state and local economies.”

    I agree with you. The effects will be sweeping and those cuts are headed our way regardless of ideology. Now is the time for us to find common ground and ensure Asheville is prepared.

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