Designing frameworks: Council readies for legislature’s return

Last year, relations between the North Carolina General Assembly and the city of Asheville were marked by hostility, public wars of words and even a lawsuit. At a special meeting yesterday, March 18, however, multiple Asheville City Council members expressed a desire to improve things this year, even though looming legislation could cost the city further revenue. They also signed off on efforts to better coordinate the city’s own lobbying efforts in Raleigh.

“What appears to be happening is that we're being told to settle the water lawsuit or else.” — Vice Mayor Esther Manheimer photos by Max Cooper

Carrot and stick: In emails, legislators and Council wrangle over water lawsuit, district city elect

Behind-the-scenes negotiations over a lawsuit, a push from Raleigh to force district-based elections for Asheville, and the fate of a parks-and-recreation bill that could save city government millions — all this and more are revealed in emails between Council members, city staff and North Carolina legislators. Recently obtained by Xpress, the documents show a candid […]

Asheville’s budget (and a tax increase) is here

At the end of a rollercoaster budget season marked by dire predictions, unpredictability at the state level, and Asheville City Council members trying to find the cash for their own plans, there’s finally a vote on the budget this evening. For the first time since 1995, city residents could see a major tax increase, intended to pay for an “aspirational” list of major projects.

Our quality of life is at stake

What kind of mentality does it require for the N.C. Senate to pass a law restricting alternative means of transportation, legislation that could improve our physical and environmental health? Shouldn't North Carolinians seek more rail transit, bike and pedestrian projects? Our Senate has amended House Bill 817 prohibiting state funding of passenger rail service, as […]

Emails reveal state reps trying to settle Asheville water lawsuit, may change city elections

Emails obtained by Xpress reveal that some state legislators have asked city of Asheville representatives to drop their lawsuit contesting a state-mandated transfer of the water system to the Metropolitan Sewerage District. The emails also show legislators discussing the fate of legislation that consolidates Asheville and Buncombe County parks-and-recreation services — a move that could save the city $5 million a year. Further, the candid discussions shine a light on a long-rumored proposal that the state may force Asheville to switch to district-based elections.

Asheville City Council tentatively endorses budget plan, uncertainties remain

While noting that much of its fate remains in the hands of the state legislature, at a special meeting this morning Asheville City Council gave staff the go-ahead to start drafting a budget based on a plan that calls for a 1 cent property tax increase and assumes the city and county may consolidate their parks and recreation operations by January.

All swing together: city, Democratic legislators defend suing state over water bill

Friday morning, Asheville city officials past and present were joined by some of the local legislative delegation to voice their opposition to a state bill that would forcibly transfer the water system to a new regional authority and the Metropolitan Sewerage District. At the press conference they supported City Council’s decision to sue the state in an attempt to halt the new law.

What happens to Asheville’s water system on May 15?

As a forcible transfer of Asheville’s water system to the Metropolitan Sewerage District clears its last legislative hurdles in Raleigh, city staff say relinquishing the system by May 15, as the bill requires, is an administrative impossibility. So what happens to the city’s water system in two weeks? “That’s a good question,” Water Resources Director Steve Shoaf says.

Council contemplates tax increase, possible water lawsuit, approves Whole Foods development

Tonight, Asheville City Council discussed a possible tax hike to help offset some financial impacts that pending state legislation could have on the current budget crunch, and Mayor Terry Bellamy said she’d vote to sue the state if it went through with a proposal to forcibly transfer the city’s water system to the Metropolitan Sewerage District. Council also approved a Tunnel Road commercial development anchored by a Whole Foods.