City plans to begin study of MSD merger

Facing pressure from the state, Asheville City Council will discuss plans to merge the city’s water system with the Metropolitan Sewerage District at a worksession this afternoon, including a study of the potential financial impact. 

The two already have consolidated billing and coordinate on neighborhood projects, but the recommendation by a study committee chaired by Rep. Tim Moffitt that MSD take over the city’s water system has caused considerable controversy. While the general assembly hasn’t passed any legislation requiring that merger yet, a recently-passed bill allows an MSD to operate a water system. Despite Council unanimously asking the governor to do so, she did not veto the bill (or sign it).

However, the study committee’s report notes that if MSD and the city are engaged in good faith negotiations on a merger, the state won’t force their hand. MSD has already hired the Arcadis company to perform a detailed impact study, and city staff now want to carry out their own financial impact study, estimated to take 30-60 days. The study will try to asses the market value of the water system, the results of a number of merger scenarios and the impact on water rate-payers.

The worksession begins at 3:30 p.m. in the first floor conference room in Asheville City Hall.

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