In the Feb. 16 Xpress article “Hard Rocks, Few Places,” David Forbes [says] that Asheville should have used involuntary annexation as a greater source of income as it brings in significant new revenue. Picking pockets is also a source of revenue. Involuntary annexation is essentially the same thing.
Asheville’s budget problems are the result of constantly increasing spending over the years, often for pet social and environmental projects. While this has happened with the approval (apparently) of city voters, it has not had the approval of those who would be forcibly annexed. They had no voice in it and should not be dragged into the city to balance the budget.
The tired argument of county residents benefiting from Asheville’s services but not paying for them (the term “freeloading” has been used at times) is hollow and used to justify the revenue/land grab by the city. Basic services, like water, parking and transportation, are fully funded by the users of those services through fees, and only a few (festivals and Civic Center) have the need for some support from the General Fund.
The residents of Asheville and the county have had to tighten their belts in a down economy, while the city General Fund has coasted along in a steady, upward manner. To try to perpetuate this on the backs of those who did not approve and do not wish to be part of this is totally outrageous and only possible due to a bad law that was passed several years ago.
How is it that the municipalities in most other states manage to thrive and grow without forced annexations, while Asheville (and let’s not forget “neighbors” like Woodfin and Weaverville) can’t seem to live without it.
— Gerard Worster
Editor’s response: The article, as an analysis of Asheville's budget situation, does not endorse involuntary annexation or any of the other possible ways to balance the budget. Instead, it notes that annexation (involuntary or otherwise) is a significant source of revenue for many cities, and that Asheville has not used it as much as others in the state. However, like the other courses mentioned (raising taxes, cutting services), it has consequences and drawbacks. My analysis specifically noted that involuntary annexation is a controversial issue and that most states do not allow it. Readers are invited to look at the possible courses the city could take and form their own opinions about the best way to solve Asheville’s budget issues.