Asheville City Manager Debra Campbell’s proposed timeline for the 2020-21 fiscal year budget is likely to shift yet again. Asheville City Council will consider the adoption of a one-month interim budget, slated to cover the month of July, at its meeting of Tuesday, June 23. Council will also weigh rescheduling both its public hearing and adoption vote on the final budget to Tuesday, July 28.
After Council received more than 3,000 community comments on June 9 demanding less money for the Asheville Police Department and greater police accountability, Campbell recommended that the city move the budget hearing to Tuesday, Aug. 25, with budget adoption to take place on Tuesday, Sept. 8. In a June 9 presentation, she said city staff would “spend the next 60 days engaging the community to develop the final budget”; Council members subsequently adopted the amended budget schedule.
However, as outlined in a staff report available before the June 23 meeting, state law mandates that Asheville must adopt its annual property tax rate by Aug. 1. Because that property tax rate cannot be adopted while the city is operating on an interim budget, the report notes, holding off the budget vote until September “would negatively impact the city’s ability to establish a property tax rate in accordance with the state statutory deadline.”
The proposed one-month interim budget for the general fund, which supports most city operations, currently stands at $8,967,350. The appropriation for the Asheville Police Department is the highest expenditure in that budget at $2,425,966.
The city now plans to take public input into consideration for a budget amendment, to be presented on Tuesday, Sept. 22, that will “determine investments in the Asheville Police Department, other city departments and various community programs.” No further detail about this engagement process was available as of press time.
In other news
Council will also vote on a proposal for how to spend $615,934 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant to help individuals adversely affected by COVID-19.
As the proposal currently stands, $399,500 will be used for rental assistance, including eviction prevention, homelessness prevention and rapid rehousing. Costs associated with the city’s emergency response to aid homeless populations will get $156,434, and $60,000 will help cover grant administration and compliance.
To meet HUD requirements, the funding must show “clarity of need” and help individuals below 80% of the area median income. Additionally, the grant cannot duplicate services and efforts paid for by other state or federal COVID-19 relief funds.
Consent agenda and public comment
The consent agenda for the meeting contains eight items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include the following resolutions:
- A resolution authorizing Campbell to reimburse the Asheville Art Museum $427,788.61 for structural repairs discovered to be necessary during its renovation. Money for that reimbursement had been set aside as contingency funding in previous budgets and will not impact the current unassigned fund balance.
- A resolution allowing Campbell to accept a $7,000 “mini-grant” from Connect Buncombe to produce public outreach materials for the city’s greenway, ADA and pedestrian facility planning project. According to a city staff report, the money “will be used to attract diverse public input” as part of a larger engagement plan.
- The adoption of an ordinance to discontinue the city’s water Capital Improvement Fee. As previously reported by Xpress, the move is required as part of a legal settlement and could cost the city up to $37 million through 2025.
The full meeting agenda and supporting documents for the regular meeting can be found at this link. Due to COVID-19, Council will meet remotely, and the meeting will be livestreamed through the City of Asheville’s Public Engagement Hub.
Members of the public may comment in three ways:
- Leave a voicemail at 855-925-2801, meeting code 9144, before 5 p.m. on Monday, June 22
- Email AshevilleCityCouncilJune232020@PublicInput.com; emails will be accepted for up to 24 hours after each public hearing
- Call in to the meeting live at 855-925-2801, meeting code 9144, and press “*” to listen live, leave a comment or join the speaker queue.