Asheville council discusses budget, approves long-term plan for affordable housing

Resident Chris Peterson addresses the Council about the 2015-2016 fiscal year budget. Peterson complained that the council was paid too much and spending was too high.

Despite a packed room, only a handful of residents chose to speak at Asheville City Council’s public hearing for 2015-2016 budget Tuesday night, June 9. Cheers and jeers resounded from the podium about the budget, which Council will formally adopt on June 23. The $154-million budget includes a 1.5 cents property-tax increase.

“I want to thank the Council for allowing the funds to increase the wages of temporary and seasonal employees in this budget,” said Vicki Meath, executive director of Just Economics, which advocates for better pay in the region. “I encourage them to apply that to all city employees, we believe every worker in Asheville needs to make a living wage.”

But others criticized the budget, which will go into effect July 1, for increasing by $7 million from last year, to a total of $154 million.

“Look at the salaries of Council members,” said former vice mayor Chris Peterson. “That’s spending too much.”

Under the consent agenda, a resolution to adopt a 7-year goal for affordable housing production assisted by the City of Asheville was passed unanimously.

Tuesday night’s action agenda:

The action agenda is intended to provide the reader with an overview of the council meeting and any decisions that were made. It does not provide action on ceremonial or non-substantive matters.

THIS ACTION AGENDA IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY. Authority to carry out actions related to any council decision should be obtained through normal departmental procedure.

Please call the City Clerk’s office at 259-5601 if you have any questions.

Present: Mayor Esther E. Manheimer, Presiding; Vice-Mayor Marc H. Hunt; Councilman Cecil Bothwell; Councilman Jan B. Davis; Councilman Christopher A. Pelly; Councilman Gordon D. Smith; Councilwoman Gwen C. Wisler; City Manager Gary Jackson; City Attorney Robin T. Currin; and City Clerk Magdalen Burleson. Absent: None.

ITEM AND SUMMARY ACTION

Resolution approving the issuance of bonds by the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville for Spruce Hill Apartments. Adopted Unanimously.

Resolution revising the City of Asheville Asheville Standard Specifications and Details Manual. Adopted Unanimously.

Budget amendment, within the Workers’ Compensation Fund in the amount of $92,963.87, to appropriate previously unbudgeted Workers’ Compensation Insurance Recovery revenues to fund claims expenses in Fiscal Year 2014-15. Adopted Unanimously.

Resolution authorizing the City Manager to execute an installment purchase contract and closing process with First Bank for the acquisition of the vehicles and computer equipment. Adopted Unanimously.

Resolution to accept an offer by Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity to purchase, by private sale, real property acquired through foreclosure proceedings for the Villas at Cedar Hill located on Pisgah View Road. Adopted Unanimously.

Resolution granting a fee waiver to the National Park Service for the Blue Ridge Quarter
Launch event on June 25, 2015. Adopted Unanimously.

Resolution amending the City Council 2015 meeting schedule to cancel the formal meeting on August 11, 2015. Adopted Unanimously.

Budget amendment in the Transit Capital Fund, in the amount of $55,262.80 from insurance recovery Funds, for a totaled bus Henderson County leased to utilize towards the purchase of a new bus to lease to Henderson County. Adopted Unanimously.

Resolution authorizing the possession and/or consumption of alcoholic beverages and/or unfortified wine at the following events:
1. 5 Walnut Anniversary Party on June 17, 2015
2. Ingle’s Independence Day Celebration on July 4, 2015
3. LEAF Downtown on August 1 & 2, 2015
4. RiverFest on August 8, 2015
5. Asheville VegFest on August 16, 2015
6. Clips Beer & Film Tour on September 4, 2015
7. Asheville Running Experience on September 5, 2015
8. Beer City Cup on September 6, 2015
Adopted Unanimously.

Resolution to adopt a seven year goal for affordable housing production assisted by the
City of Asheville. Adopted Unanimously.

Resolution authorizing the City Manager to enter into a contract with B. Allen Construction, Inc. for the Kenilworth Park renovations. Adopted Unanimously.
Budget amendment, in the amount of $298,884, from debt proceeds to fund the contract for the Kenilworth Park renovations. Adopted Unanimously.

Resolution authorizing the City to apply for funds through the US Office of Justice 2015 Removed from Consideration.

Resolution authorizing the City to apply for funds through the US Office of Justice 2015 Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant – State Solicitation for taser devices. Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant – Local Solicitation for taser devices. Adopted Unanimously.

Legislative Update. Heard Update.

Public hearing to consider the Fiscal Year 2015-16 Annual Operating Budget. Hearing Held.

Public hearing to consider rezoning property at 1 Buffalo Street from Neighborhood Business District to RM-8 Residential Multi-Family Medium Density District. Adopted Unanimously.

Public hearing to consider a conditional zoning of property located at 29 Oak Hill Drive from RM-16 Residential Multi-Family High Density District to RM-16/ CZ Residential Multi-Family High Density District/Conditional Zoning for the construction of 72 residential units in three buildings with associated infrastructure, with conditions for reduced building setbacks, reduced parking counts, and increase of residential density. Adopted Unanimously.

Public hearing to consider an amendment to a previously approved conditional zoning at 673 Sand Hill Road to allow the development of one additional residential unit in an
unfinished space in an existing building. Adopted Unanimously.

Public hearing to consider an amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance to Section 7-11-8(b)(4) to correct an earlier amendment that provides a clarification for a threshold for when sidewalks are required. Adopted Unanimously.

Resolution authorizing the approval of the 2015-16 Strategic Partnership Fund Grants. Adopted Unanimously.

Discussion of Chairmanship of the Civil Service Board. Reappted Alan Coxie.
Boards & Commissions: (Council to determine who, if any, to interview)
• African American Heritage Commission Reappted Marvin Chambers
• Board of Electrical Examiners Reappted David Martin, Gus Sims,
Ken Frisbee; Appted George Grigg and Charlie Wheeler
• Civic Center Commission Reappted Joel Storrow, Chris Bubenik;
Appted Greg Duff
• Downtown Commission Appted Brent Campbell
• Historic Resources Commission Reappted William Eakins &
Tracey Rizzo
• Multimodal Transportation Commission Reappted Julie Mayfield, Mary Weber &
Don Kostelec
• Neighborhood Advisory Committee Reappted Spencer Hardaway &
Joe Fioccola; Appted Greta BushPhil Lenowitz
• Noise Ordinance Appeals Board Appted Robert Glenn & Tod Leaven
• Public Art & Cultural Commission Reappted Sharon TrammelConstance Richards; Appted K. Johnson Bowles
• Recreation Board Reappted Robert Pierce, Barry Mundt & Forest Merithew

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About Pat Barcas
Pat is a photojournalist and writer who moved to Asheville in 2014. He previously worked for a labor and social rights advocacy newspaper in Chicago. Email him at pbarcas@gmail.com. Follow me @pbarcas

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2 thoughts on “Asheville council discusses budget, approves long-term plan for affordable housing

  1. Alan Ditmore

    And why doesn’t Xpress make this comment section more dialup compatible? they are catering to a broadband elite.

  2. Alan Ditmore

    I wrote on Buncombe Politics that friction between police and housing residents was inevitable and could never be resolved because they were in direct competition for the exact same funding dollars. Funding is absolutely a zero sum game and I am for housing and must therefore be against police (and childcare and every other budget item.) Armed citizens, deputies, state troopers and FBI combine to provide plenty of law enforcement while housing funds effectively reduce desperation related crime. Also, by defunding, bad cops can be layed off subjectively without provable cause, thus bypassing the police unions and civil service board.

    I’m thinking that maybe progressive cities like Baltimore and Asheville should simply abandon policing and transfer all police funds to affordable housing etc. Then the county, state and feds will be left to police Baltimore, which will not solve the use of force problem, but it will allow the mayor to wash her hands of it while reducing desperation, and the crime it causes. State troopers would not dare abandon city policing for fear of crime spillover beyond city limits. Besides, the most commonly enforced laws are state anyway, which means the same people who made the laws are then funding their enforcement, rather than having cities mostly paying to enforce someone else’s (state) laws. Why pay to enforce someone else’s laws?
    This would also reduce budgetary tension, which is really most of it, between city police and public housing residents. There would be no tension with a force that no longer exists.

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