Water and politics mix at CIBO issues breakfast

Water and politics mix at CIBO issues breakfast-attachment0

Based on tweets by David Forbes from the CIBO issues breakfast at the Biltmore Square Mall.

At CIBO mtg. State Rep. Patsy Keever will talk about congressional campaign Also: Vice Mayor Esther Manheimer and local attorney Bob Long will talk about Asheville’s water system
Buncombe Commissioner candidates Mike Fryar, David King, Glenda Weinart Michelle Pace Wood, Linda Southard. State Rep. Tim Moffitt, Commissioners Holly Jones, Carol Peterson, Council members Marc Hunt, Jan Davis also here.

Keever: Politics “something I enjoy a great deal” and like helping ppl Here because GOP drew me out of my house district, realized 10th congressional district had most of old district in it. 

Manheimer up now, talking about #ncga hearings on taking Asheville’s water system. Three options before Moffitt’s #ncga committee: leave water system w city, move to MSD, move to independent authority.  City doesn’t have official position yet, but both MSD and city water system already really well run
Asheville has unusual situation. 1/3rd of county in city borders, 2/3 outside. Most major metro areas reversed Asheville has mid-lower tax rate, kept flat for years.  Due to state law, only Asheville can’t charge diff rates to customers outside city.  Also due to state law, only Asheville is prohibited from using water revenues for gen fund.  In most cities, higher outside water rates subsidize lower inside city rates. Asheville’s rates still in middle.  City’s taken some steps to equalize that.  Appreciative to Rep. Moffitt for continued involvement in process. Recent study showed residential ratepayers were paying higher than avg rate, businesses lower than avg. 

Bob Long, local attorney, represented county in 2005 water dispute w city In most ways, water system in Asheville has unique history.  Used avg of 22 mil gallons a day in ‘05, can safely generate up to 42 mil.  Basic premise I come from is water customers paid for system, basis for state legal restrictions on Asheville’s system. Court in 1955 found that city of Asheville contributed nothing to water system. City has been a net taker of funds from the water system.  Water rate hike passed in ‘50s so city could get bond to keep from going broke.  Not here to advocate for what should be done to water system, it’s been improved by Sullivan Acts.  Support what legislature done in past. Finding of courts show customers outside city have paid for system. 

Council member Jan Davis responding: with great risk appear behind two attorneys on an issue like this.  In 2004, water authority couldn’t agree on repair plans. Hoped to be treated as other cities. Weren’t, lost in court.  Shouldn’t spend time looking in the weeds at the past. Water system today is well run. Not formally a resolution yet, but Council firmly behind keeping water system. 

Dwight Butner: Heard rumors of argument that ratepayers in city own system. Confused about that.  Don’t understand Long’s argument.

Manheimer: Most public utilities paid for by ratepayers.  Running water system way it’s supposed to be run. Argument about history somewhat academic. 

Comment: Developers pay for putting in the system.

Manheimer: Until they turn it over to city, then have to pay to maintain. 

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