Asheville Council approves tax increase, gets crime update

Kim Roney with cardboard box
BOXING DAY: Asheville City Council member Kim Roney, center, used a cardboard box to illustrate what she called the three dimensions of the city budget: what, how and why. Photo by Brooke Randle

It’s official: Taxes are going up in Asheville.

During its June 22 meeting, Asheville City Council voted 6-1 to approve the $201.67 million operating budget for fiscal year 2021-22, which includes an effective property tax increase of 2 cents per $100 in valuation and $8.7 million in new spending. City residents will also pay higher taxes to Buncombe County after its Board of Commissioners unanimously approved an effective 2-cent rate increase on June 15.

The city budget allocates $6.7 million for increases in employee compensation, including raising Asheville’s firefighter pay to a minimum of $15 per hour. The budget also includes $1.1 million to extend bus service hours in line with the 2018 Transit Master Plan and $150,000 to fund Asheville’s participation in a county grant program that aims to mitigate the impacts of property tax increases for low-income homeowners.

Council member Kim Roney was the sole vote against the budget, arguing that the tax increase would harm poorer residents. She presented data compiled by Joe Minicozzi, former executive director of the Asheville Downtown Association and principal of municipal consulting firm Urban3, showing that values for the lowest-priced Buncombe homes have increased more than twice as much over the past 20 years as have values for the highest-priced properties, thus leading to disproportionately higher property tax bills. Those bigger value increases are concentrated in areas with high minority populations.

Ahead of the vote, Roney made a motion that would have frozen 15 of 88 vacant positions at the Asheville Police Department to free up money for other uses. She also moved to increase funding for the county homeowner grant program by as much as $1 million. “The ‘how’ we get to our budget funding matters,” she said.

But Council member Antanette Mosley, who said she had requested data from APD regarding crime statistics for Black women, said that Roney’s proposed hiring freeze could have negative consequences for that segment of the community.

“Despite comprising only 6% of Asheville’s population, Black females are 16% of all violent crime victims. The disparity is even greater when considering that one in every five — 20% — of domestic crime victims in our city are Black and female,” Mosley said. “Have we been able to extrapolate how many Black women will die if we reduce the number of police we have by 15? Has anyone considered that? I didn’t think so.” (Roney’s motion would not have eliminated existing officers, and the positions Mosley referenced are currently unfilled.)

Both of Roney’s amendments died on the floor without a second from any other member of Council.

Zack gives crime update

Council members also heard a presentation from APD Chief David Zack regarding various categories of crime in the city. He noted that Asheville’s number of violent crimes, including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, was about 45% higher in 2020 than in 2011.

Property crimes were about 30% higher in 2020 than in 2011 but down slightly from 2019 numbers.

Zack also said Asheville’s homicide rate has stayed relatively flat compared to that of other large metropolitan areas, which saw an increase of about 32% from 2019 to 2020. He noted that five people had been killed in Asheville to date in 2021, including one person who was killed the night before the presentation.

“Despite our current staffing shortages, APD is still very aggressively developing and working on strategies to address violent crime and other types of crime,” he said.


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9 thoughts on “Asheville Council approves tax increase, gets crime update

  1. Roger

    Hurting the poor with increased taxes is one way of driving them away–out! (apparently this is exactly what the “outsiders” and their representatives at city council really want). Taxes should have been increased from varying commercial sectors of the city’s makeup, instead of burdening longtime residents who already pay their fair share. Asheville is now governed by outsiders who side with the business community. But it makes sense to increase revenue by taxing those tourists who have come to enjoy what Asheville is now…not what it once WAS. The “ruling class” have also sided with radical-left activists who want to tear down the town instead of preserving its charm or its historical elements. Just look at the Biltmore offices at Pack Square and the absence of the Vance obelisk and one can pretty much predict that the wealthy, the outsiders, the radical left will continue to remake this town into a haven for outsiders while screwing the native residents and those who immigrated years ago and worked to keep Asheville historic and charming. City council has done more than its part to destroy the town’s charm. Those who question if its too late have probably decided that “yes,” this once charming town is gone.

    • Virginia Ritter

      I agree Council is destroying this town. They knew about the police shortage for months but never activated anything. Where is the money for the 84 salaries. Now the police only protect residents on a pick and choose. Why a tax hike? Shouldn’t tourists start paying for our infrastructure? Wake up City Council!

      • Roger

        Unfortunately, we have but one member of Council who is native to our town and who is courageous enough to stand against radical voices, including that of the Mayor who was out to destroy the Vance monument when the party leaders in Raleigh supported the destruction of property in Durham in 2017. Sandra Kilgore would make the kind of mayor that this city needs if it is to be saved from further destruction and extreme reactionary factions. Dividing the citizens is no way to govern. I believe Ms. Kilgore is wise and would lead with effective wisdom that would bring the citizens together for a common purpose.

        • NFB

          Um, you do realize that Sandra Kilgore voted FOR the tax increase you lambasted in your first post on this topic, don’t you? It’s right there in the article. Kim Roney was the only one to vote against it — you know, the evil newcomer?

          • Roger

            I am not unaware that it was Kim Roney who was the only member who voted against the tax increase, and that should have been obvious in my first comment about “hurting the poor.” But the deeper, more complex issue is that partisan actions have brought about absurd mismanagement; for example, Kilgore voted against the partisan decision to destroy the Vance obelisk rather than repurpose it. Nonetheless, Roney is right in her observation about hurting the poor, but her extreme partisan positions about spending tens and tens and tens of thousands of dollars to destroy the obelisk and her radical campaign to eliminate the police force has only brought about consequences that add to hurting the poor. Indeed, recent reports from national sources support this claim. That is why outside influences and the extreme partisan actions are only exacerbating matters which Kilgore is bound to be in conflict with for now. From my view, Kilgore would normally vote for actions that are rational, common-sense ones that would certainly not be hurting the poor. But she is outnumbered by pure political party backwardness so proposed by those members acting not in favor of local matters but in step with outside partisan actions from Washington and Raleigh. It seems that you take a rather simplistic view of these unfortunate issues when, in fact, the partisan politics behind this mismanagement stretches back several years.

      • luther blissett

        “Shouldn’t tourists start paying for our infrastructure?”

        Probably. Now tell us exactly how that can be done by City Council with the powers it is granted. “Why a tax hike?” Well, the city can raise property taxes (which disproportionately affects lower-end homeowners) and it can raise sales taxes, which are just plain regressive. That’s about it.

        The APD’s 2021-22 budget is $30 million. The TDA’s projected revenues for 2021-22 are $27 million.

        The TDA is planning to spend more on marketing over the next few months than the entire APD budget for those months. Its TV ad money would pay a bunch more salaries and provide a bunch of raises. Maybe Chief Zack and his senior officers should call in to the TDA board meeting on Wednesday, now that they’ve had their day in the national spotlight? Maybe the chief should arrange a meeting with our colonial governor Chuck Edwards.

        Maybe it’s time to argue that Chuck Edwards hates the police because he’s holding hostage millions of dollars that could be spent on raises and officer training and community policing. “Fund the police (and other important things) with TDA money” seems like a cause that would unite a lot of people of different political persuasions.

      • Enlightened Enigma

        Virginia, which ones of them did YOU vote for? Your city council is already TOO WOKE and they need to brought into reality.
        They have NO leadership from any one of them…total LOSERS, totally incompetent females.

  2. indy499

    Given the mammoth increase in property value assessments coupled with the increase in rate, the actual property tax increase is absurd. Mismanagement at its worst.

    Other than police quitting what’s that attrition rate for city emplyees? Great benefits. Above average salaries. Can’t get fired. When not “working” from home, can sprint out the door at 5pm.

  3. Enlightened Enigma

    Reparations should ONLY be paid by democrackkks because only democrackkks were slave owners … and then we file class action against each city council and mayor for the Vance ordeal. MAKE THEM PAY out of their own pockets !!!

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