Moffitt-sponsored bill to allow referendums on forced annexation becomes law

Moffitt-sponsored bill to allow referendums on forced annexation becomes law-attachment0

Residents of unincorporated areas across North Carolina now have the ability to block forced annexations by a majority vote, thanks to a bill sponsored by Buncombe County Rep. Tim Moffitt that became law on June 11, after Gov. Bev Perdue took no action to veto it.

Previously, a petition process requiring signatures of 60 percent of affected-area landowners could halt the forced annexation attempts of a municipality. The new law allows affected residents to hold a referendum. A simple majority vote against the annexation would block it; a simple majority in favor would allow it.

Annexation has long been a hot-button local issue. And during his 2010 election campaign, Moffitt, a Republican, took a strong stance against efforts by the city of Asheville to forcibly annex the Biltmore Lake area. He faces Democratic challenger Jane Whilden, who he beat in 2010, in the fall.

At this writing, Moffitt hadn’t returned a call from Xpress seeking comment.

For more on this issue, read Associated Press coverage here or watch WLOS coverage here.

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About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

36 thoughts on “Moffitt-sponsored bill to allow referendums on forced annexation becomes law

  1. bsummers

    “It’s amazing to see who voted against a bill that provides for a VOTE of the people…”

    Yes, Betty. Tell us how you supported a referendum on the changes to the way in which Buncombe County Commissioners are elected. ‘Cause correct me if I’m wrong, Tim blocked that “VOTE of the people”…

    • BettyJ

      How long have you lived here, Barry? You must not remember the people who repeatedly wanted commissioner districts in the past, but who were denied a referendum by the co commissioners (just remind Stanley et al, if they dare to remember) AND by the then reigning reps in Raleigh. The voices of the people had been silenced.

    • jburhoe

      The people are now elected in a deomcratic way, allowing some chance for the little folks in the county to finally have guaranteed representation.

      Hence the numerous candidates running this time.

      After many decades (how many?) of the Democrat’s Dynasty, ALL citizens deserve (and voted for) a break from the Asheville-dominated County Commission.

      I thought you guys were the party of change?

  2. bsummers

    …or a “VOTE of the people” on whether to use the power of the State to forcibly seize Asheville’s water system. Tim wasn’t too keen on letting the people vote on that one, either, as I recall.

  3. BettyJ

    Not rising to your stopitbot bait, Barry. Just let me say that a regional system deserves regional oversight.

  4. jburhoe

    #1) It is NOT Asheville’s water. It belongs to 2 counties, including the city of Asheville

    The state has not seized Asheville’s water. It may set up a regional board of ALL owners & users of the system.

    This is yet another example of Asheville’s desire for control over everything….

    Why can’t you just get along?

  5. Michael Muller

    Actually Barry, that’s not correct.

    At a CIBO meeting on April 1, 2011, Mike Fryar asked David Gantt if he would allow a referendum on the issue of district elections and Chairman Gantt gave him an unequivocal no. It was David Gantt who blocked that vote. I guess he was against it before he was for it.

    It’s kind of like the regional water authority. David was for that one before he was against it ;)

  6. mdai

    Are you aware that it has been 53 years since
    North Carolineans voted on annexation?
    Prior to June 1959, they were required
    to vote on this issue. The 1959 N.C. Annexation law disenfranchised the people of this state from voting on annexation. This new law, HB 925, will restore the referendum vote on annexation. In my opinion, the State legislature should make it easier for cities to charge taxes within
    their borders such as a wage tax, so that
    they have a steady stream of revenue instead of resorting to annexation.

    • bsummers

      At least Gantt, Stanley, et al said no to your face. Mr. Moffitt squashed the “VOTE of the people” like this:

      “A little-noticed restriction tacked to the bottom of legislation governing commissioner elections in Guilford and Mecklenburg counties also forbids any change in the way Buncombe’s Board of Commissioners is structured before 2020… done at the request of Rep. Tim Moffitt, R-Buncombe.”

      …where hopefully nobody would notice until it was too late to undo. Cheap.

      You guys with your BuncombeGOP “principles”:

      “I BELIEVE the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people.”

      http://www.buncombegop.org/principles/

      Horse hockey. You turn to Raleigh to snatch power away from the local WNC “people” whenever it suits you, going so far as to hide a law affecting the election of local leaders in a bill intended to affect Charlotte and Greensboro, or stacking a committee looking at our water system with reps from as far east as Wake County.

      From what I can see, Mr. MM & gang (hows that new political consulting company coming?) you and yours have no principles, and when the wheel turns again, as it always will, I’ll be one of those calling for you to get screwed to the wall the way Asheville currently is.

  7. bsummers

    For my part, I regret that the behavior of an unnamed person led me to question Michael Muller’s personal integrity.

    Does half a notch count?

  8. mdai

    Prior to the recent passage of HB925 Annexation Reform 2 into law, allowing North Carolineans to once again vote on annexation, this state was among 4 other states that forcibly annexed –
    Illinois, Idaho, N.C., Tennessee. Now it can be
    proudly said that only 3 states follow this
    odious practice. Apparently, the other 47 states
    use methods other than forced annexation
    to bring in revenue. We should concentrate on
    helping cities find additional sources of revenue
    other than property taxes, sales tax, hotel tax, etc. Wage taxes make the most sense – taxing people who live inside or outside the city who work within city borders. After all, they really do use city services driving into work everyday and if they get sick, city EMS services are called into play.

  9. JMAC

    “Parker, my dear boy…you really need to get your facts straight.”

    Yes Facts are in short supply

    “First of all, the residents of Biltmore Lake paid for their own streets, their own sewers, their own sidewalks, their own streetlights”

    The developer(Biltmore Farms) installed the streets, sewers, sidewalks and streetlights. OF course these cost were incorporated into the sales price so in theory the residents did pay for them. If the same development had been in the city the developer would have still installed all of the same features and those site improvements would still be incorporated into the sales price therefore the people that bought into the development paid for them.

    “their own trash removal, etc.”

    That is where the difference is, In the county the street maintenance would become the responsibility of Buncombe County or possibly the HOA if the streets remain private. Maintenance of the sidewalks are probably maintained by the HOA. Streetlights were likely leased from Duke Power and those monthly rental fees incorporate maintenance charges, ultimately the HOA funds the maintenance and power use of the street lights. Trash pick up is funded by the HOA. Sewer would be maintained by MSD.
    The same development with the same site improvements in the city would be maintained by the city except for the sewer which would be maintained by MSD. In both scenarios it could be possible that NCDOT would assume responsibility for the streets. Trash pickup in the city is paid for by the citizens who pay there water bill.

    “AFTER the city of Asheville refused to do so”
    Why in the world would the city pay for maintenance on a development that they do not get any taxes from.

    “(and, ironically, after promising they would never try to annex them)”

    I would really like to see something to back that up, seems like hearsay. Is there some guy named Mr. City that made such a promise?

    “The residents of Biltmore Lake are county residents and receive county-level services and then contract privately for whatever else they feel they need. So you are factually incorrect.”

    That is correct

    “And frankly, for you to suggest that the communities of Biltmore Lake, Biltmore Forest, Woodfin, Black Mountain, Weaverville, Barnardsville are freeloading off the city is insulting (and inaccurate)”
    All of those except Biltmore Lake are towns that have there own tax system and provide services accordingly.

    “The City of Asheville uses a disproportionate share of county public services.”

    Really, I would love to see some hard numbers on that.

  10. bsummers

    “The City of Asheville uses a disproportionate share of county public services.”

    Really, I would love to see some hard numbers on that.

    This is urban legend, spread by people with no facts to back it up. Agnes Cheek tried this phony baloney a couple of years ago, and failed to produce evidence even under criticism of other conservatives.

    On the other hand, here’s a breakdown of figures from the Dept. of Revenue that shows the “disproportionate” amount of the County budget that is dependent on Asheville-generated sales tax, and how little of that goes back to the City of Asheville:

    http://freepdfhosting.com/0de3e6d4cd.pdf

    The City definitely subsidizes the County, and vice-versa. But some people only see the part of the ledger that they want to see.

  11. bsummers

    “By way of clarification, urbandictionary dot com defines a tool as “one who lacks the mental capacity to know he is being used.”

    I’m parched. Anyone have any water?”

    Glad to see you’re ‘taking it down a notch’, Michael, and only making issue-based comments. I notice you haven’t responded to the evidence I produced that showed that Tim Moffitt did indeed squash a local “VOTE of the people” on the commissioners issue.

    No facts just snark? Oh say it ain’t so.

  12. Michael Muller

    I’m not even going to attempt to dialogue with you, Barry

  13. bsummers

    AC-T confirms what I pointed out earlier: Asheville economic activity subsidizes County spending to a “disproportionate” degree. You’re welcome.

    http://www.citizen-times.com/article/20120617/NEWS01/306170051/Buncombe-County-sales-tax-Where-does-money-go-?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Frontpage

    Incidentally, I knew this interesting little snippet, but didn’t have any citation, so didn’t mention it, but here it is (thanks Joel Burgess):

    “The state has stopped tracking sales tax by municipality”

    When the Republicans took over, they instructed the Dept. of Revenue to stop breaking out sales tax intake/distribution info by municipality. Guess they don’t want us City-dwellers to know how much we’re subsidizing the Counties.

    So much for a fact-based discussion, eh GOP?

  14. bsummers

    Has anyone else noticed how when you counter MM’s spin with facts, he scurries away?

    I accept your surrender, poor little feller…

    • Margaret Williams

      Your personal feelings toward individual commenters continue to show. This is not what “take it down a notch” means, as such comments encourage more tit for tats all around.

      Ditto for a few others in this thread who keep making this personal. You’re all reasonably intelligent residents with very different points of view. Demonstrate more intelligence; less snark.

    • bsummers

      “Your personal feelings toward individual commenters continue to show.”

      Yet when MM’s first comment out of the box includes calling me a “tool”, that is allowed to slide without rebuke. It’s only a problem when I respond, and I’m the only one called out by name on it.

      MM saying this about me: “you’re so blinded by hatred and partisanship that you are no longer rational,” that is apparently OK, but I get called out for responding with something even milder.

      Is is because MM is an XPress writer, and therefore he gets free run of the place and never gets called for instigating the hostile climate? That’s the message I’m getting.

    • Margaret Williams

      Muller is not an Xpress writer. His comments are moderated.

    • bsummers

      So are you saying that you or someone else at XPress approved of him calling me a “tool”? Wow, somehow that’s not very re-assuring.

    • Margaret Williams

      Barry, we can allow a little bit of back-and-forth snark, but at a certain point, it starts to add up and/or go too far. I’m politely saying, y’all have now both gone too far. And I’ve said it for the last few days.

      Respect the decisions of the moderators and move on. Please.

    • bsummers

      If you’re asking me to respect the fact that it’s OK for him to call me a tool, and it only goes “too far” when I respond… No. I don’t respect that.

    • Margaret Williams

      And P.S. Muller’s “tool” comment came via a Facebook post, which, unfortunately, is more difficult to moderate in anything resembling real time.

  15. mcates

    [AC-T confirms what I pointed out earlier: Asheville economic activity subsidizes County spending to a “disproportionate” degree. You’re welcome.]

    Maybe, but your point would need clarification.

    The article speaks primarily to the amount of sales tax revenue that is redistributed to the municipalities.

    1) The article did not address how much money the county spends to service Asheville residents with county services versus what they spend on county residents.

    2) It did not address how much money county residents are spending in Asheville versus how much Asheville spends to service county residents, given their transient nature.

    A straight forward example would be Pack Memorial Library in downtown Asheville. The numbers in the article do not indicate the percent of the county budget that is receive by the library versus how many county and city residents take advantage of that particular library.

  16. bsummers

    City residents are also County residents. If the County spends a large portion of its budget here, it’s because the City comprises slightly more than one third of the County population. Every City resident who takes advantage of Pack Library, to use your example, is also a County resident.

    It’s also because this is the County seat, and all the County’s infrastructure is based here. I would bet dollars to donuts, that when people talk about all the money that the County spends on Asheville, they’re counting what gets spent in Asheville: the cost of maintaining the Courthouse, the Sheriff’s Dept., the County Health Dept., etc. etc., which serve the entire County, but are based here.

    Framing the argument as a “city res. versus county res.” issue is a distortion, done for political reasons – “Oh we hate that darned City, don’t we – vote for me, and I’ll curb their liberal overspending that’s sucking money out of your County budget.”

    Anyway, any time I’ve challenged people to produce specific numbers to back up the charge about “disproportionate County spending”, they call me a hateful partisan tool for asking the question & then scurry away…

  17. Michael Muller

    I didn’t scurry away, Barry.

    The City of Asheville represents 33% of the population of the county, yet it accounts for nearly half of all social services spending. And over 60% of the cells in the County Jail are occupied by residents of the city.

    So, once again, you are wrong.

  18. Michael Muller

    Mandy Stone. She’s the Assistant County Manager and Director of Social Services for the county.

  19. bsummers

    Michael Muller. Unsurprisingly, your “facts” don’t hold up.

    “The City of Asheville represents 33% of the population of the county, yet it accounts for nearly half of all social services spending. And over 60% of the cells in the County Jail are occupied by residents of the city.”

    Second part first – Mandy Stone has nothing to do with the jail. The man in charge is Major Glen Matayabas, and he was very helpful. He says that they simply don’t track the jail population by residence the way you suggest. But even if you went to the daily arrests and looked there to count up the addresses of detainees, you would get misleading info. Every single person arrested anywhere in the County, who is homeless or refuses to give an address, is listed as living at “20 Davidson Drive” in Asheville, because that is the address of the jail. That’s #1.

    #2 is, he ran a check for me on the current arrestees, and found that 147 out of 415, or 35%, were APD arrests. The rest were arrested in the County, outside of Asheville. Your jail “fact” appears to be phony baloney.

    As for the Social Services spending “fact”, Ms. Stone says that they too, don’t break out city resident vs. non-city resident spending the way you allege, and that she can’t recall ever being asked this specifically. She has directed a staffer to look into it, and he is going to get back to me. In any case, it’s important to remember that whatever the breakdown reveals, 93% of DSS “spending” is Federal and State money that the County simply directs, like Medicaid. It’s incredibly misleading to inject that into the issue of County sales tax distribution, as we were trying to discuss before. My guess is that this talking point of DSS “spending” disproportionately in the City goes back to what I pointed out before – the department is based in Asheville, so this is where they spend the money on infrastructure.

    Is that all you got, Mr. Muller?

    Once again, conservatives who rail against the City because it’s good politics, don’t have any facts to back it up.

  20. bsummers

    Heard back from Jim Holland, at the Buncombe DSS. Asheville comprises 35.1% of the population, and accounts for 43% of the cases. That’s not spending, that’s just a count of the number of cases, over fiscal year ’11. Not out of line with an urban center in a rural county. And the largest number of cases, the Medicaid cases, are 40/60 (city/county). Medicaid is the single largest dollar pool that DSS disburses.

    Here is the pdf of what I received from DSS:

    http://freepdfhosting.com/15e844e6d1.pdf

    There. We can all look at the same data & have a conversation. That wasn’t so hard, was it? But after throwing out the chaff, my guess is that certain folks have lost interest in a discussion based on facts…

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