Yesterday, July 31, Asheville City Council members asked staff to write a referendum that lets residents vote on a possible transfer of the Asheville water system to the Metropolitan Sewerage District of Buncombe County. But according to Buncombe County Rep. Tim Moffitt, who chaired a state legislative study commission on the matter, he does not need a referendum to know the where folks in the City of Asheville stand on this issue.
“City Council has made [its] viewpoint public knowledge regarding this issue. The citizens of Asheville made their viewpoint, in a very clear way,” Moffitt says. “They want to retain control of the region’s water source and also want to repeal the Sullivan Acts. That was made very clear,” he continues, adding, “But the referendum itself just allows the city of Asheville to use taxpayer money in a political way to take issue with this entire matter. It serves no purpose.”
Moffitt referenced the various concerns he heard at the Feb. 21 public hearing at the WNC Agricultural Center. At that hearing, in a segment set aside for hearing from city residents, he estimated about 85 percent of them wanted to keep the water system. Using the hearing as an example, Moffitt says the referendum will only be more of the same. “I think the referendum will only confirm what we already know. To me, I don’t’ think it’s a wise use of tax dollars to arrive at a conclusion that’s already been well-stated by their elected representatives on City Council,” he said.
Recently, the state legislature passed a bill allowing MSD to operate a water system. Though Council asked Gov. Bev Perdue to veto it, she declined to either veto or sign the bill, setting the stage for it to become law.