City Council considers budget, holds hearings on annexations

Asheville City Council began today’s deliberations at 4 p.m. Xpress Senior News Reporter David Forbes began his live Twitter-based coverage at 4:07 and ended at 6:03 p.m. What follows is a compilation of Forbes’ tweets.

• Staff is presenting Council with next year’s much wrangled-over budget.

• The budget is down $1.1 million from last year; no property tax increase; budget is indicative of “new normal.” Budget includes cuts in overtime, services, a hiring freeze and a salary freeze for those making over median income.

• Staff recommends no film festival this year, will come to Council later this month with ideas for ending or privatizing.

• Administration Director Lauren Bradley says the budget has managed to dodge major staff reductions and “severe service reductions.” Council schedules a budget work session and public hearing for May 25.

• Council going into closed session to discuss lawsuit, will return at 5.

• For some background info, Council has wrangled over this budget since March in several work sessions. Beginning with a projected $5 million deficit, staff whittled it to $1 million, then balanced it with salary freezes and an 11th hour federal transit grant. A number of measures that were proposed to make ends meet, but couldn’t find support, include: a tax hike, transit cuts, a water-fee hike.

• It’s 5:07, and Council’s still in closed session discussing a lawsuit.

• Ah, Council emerges from closed session. Next up: hearings, votes on 12 involuntary annexations. CORRECTION: There’ll only be public hearings on annexations tonight. Voting will be May 25.

• Annexations include an Ingles, a nursing home, the site of a coming Deerfields development and part of a house in Haw Creek, among others. Also, a Wal-Mart, Target and Lowe’s in the Airport Road area.

• Attorney Louis Bissette is asking that part of a manufacturing company’s property be exempted from Airport Road annexation. In return, Bissette said Normac Manufacturing will waive the requirement that city build a sewer line to the property it does annex.

• Mayor Bellamy says: The city has previously had an informal policy of not annexing manufacturing.

• Staff says that not having to build the sewer line would save city $185,000.

• Vice Mayor Newman says: Though Council isn’t voting tonight, Bissette’s proposal “sounds creative”; the city should consider it.

• Bellamy suggests delaying deciding which transit-commission applicants to interview, so more users can be represented. Bellamy wants more people who have no other transit method to be represented, such riders are 68 percent of the users. Council agrees to keep transit-commission applications open for another month.

• Bellamy wants participation in state panel on finding housing for ex-cons. She says that “right now, the plan is to drop them off at the Rescue Mission.”

• Council is adjourned. Sun still shining #markthedate

• Council members are getting off early to attend the Norah Jones concert and hobnob with Southern Conference officials at Civic Center.

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One thought on “City Council considers budget, holds hearings on annexations

  1. sampierce

    Forced annexation is an immoral land-grab tolerated in only a few states in this country. Property owners should have a right to decide if they, as a group, want to be taken into a city. Most other states require a referendum of acceptance before allowing towns to annex. North Carolina citizens should make their opinions about forced annexation known by writing their Congressmen and Senators. There is currently a state-wide postcard-writing campaign that will continue for the next six weeks. Add your voices to this protest by contributing to our representatives mail stacks!!

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