Putting a price tag on Sunday bus service, staff raises, and more

As the city of Asheville begins deciding what it will and won’t spend money on in the coming year, staff has presented a menu of budget options, putting a price tag on everything from Sunday bus service ($190,000 a year) to a raise for city staff ($460,000).

The list was first presented publicly as part of an overall presentation on the city’s finances at a work session just before the March 27 Asheville City Council meeting. It sets out a number of optional items that the city can opt to spend money on, including things like the $200,000 some downtown property owners are asking for to start a Business Improvement District or $525,000 to bring back vacuum leaf collection. The list is as follows:

Increase EDC business expansion & relocation: $50,000
Building & facility deferred maintenance: $160,000
IT infrastructure & security services: $195,000
Developing a form-based planning policy: $200,000
Transit service on holidays: $30,000 Sundays: $190,000
Employee compensation – 1% COLA [Cost of living adjustment] July 1: $460,000
Double Housing Trust Fund allocation: $300,000 additional for a total of $600,000
Reinstating Vacuum Leaf Collection: $525,000
Downtown BID subsidy: $200,000

It’s interesting information because it puts price tags on a number of proposals that have been bandied about for years (though it’s worth noting the numbers for Sunday and holiday bus service would be running major routes only). City staff have recommended – and many Council members have agreed — that a raise for staff, who haven’t had one in three years, should be a major priority.

Staff will present the proposed budget at the April 24 Council meeting, with a public hearing to follow May 22. Council will approve the final budget June 12.

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