At its meeting on May 24, Asheville City Council:
• Passed $132.5 million dollar budget for fiscal year 2012 in a 6-1 vote. Mayor Terry Bellamy voted against the proposed budget citing concerns over the water-rate increase on commercial and industrial customers, the increase in the household recycling fee, the lack of a cost-of-living increase for city employees, and the city’s inability to meet their stated goal of keeping the reserve fund balance at 15 percent of the total budget. The budget contains no property or sales tax increases. Several amendments to the budget were also passed, including $250,000 for the Clingman Avenue Streetscape project which will create a bicycle climbing lane up Clingman Avenue to Hillard Avenue. According to staff, the new lane will be paid for with money saved from two other recently completed construction projects: the Patton Avenue sidewalk project and the Kimberly Avenue resurfacing. Mayor Bellamy voted against the Clingman Avenue Streetscape amendment, saying that monies intended for sidewalks shouldn’t be used for bike lanes.
• Gave unanimous approval to a plan to redevelop the Ingles grocery store at 863 Brevard Road. Ingles Markets Inc. has plans to demolish the current 53,500 square-foot store and replace it with one nearly double the size, at just over 99,000 square feet. The new store would also include a 4,800 square-foot gas canopy and retail kiosk. A separate vote was held on an exemption for the new store’s signage, which exceeds the maximum allowed by the city. Total proposed signage for the Ingles is 292 square feet, but under current city sign law, Ingles would only be allowed 167 square feet. The measure passed 5-2, with Council Members Cecil Bothwell and Gordon Smith were opposed.
• Unanimously adopted a motion to send a letter to the General Assembly opposing legislation proposed by Rep. Tim Moffitt that would seize the city’s water system and turn it over to the Metropolitan Sewerage District (see story on proposed legislation here).
• Heard a quarterly financial report for the third quarter of fiscal year 2011. The report said that, through March 31, the city collected $71,719,635 in general fund revenue for the fiscal year, representing around 81 percent of the total general-fund revenue budget. Expenditures through March 31 total $60,891,538, around 68.4 percent of the budget. That rate of expenditure is slightly lower than in prior years, according to the report.