City council approves budget, OKs living-wage incentives, relaxes ADU rules

The roof of Asheville City Hall.

Asheville City Council passed the 2015-2016 fiscal year budget yesterday that increases property taxes and fees for municipal services. The budget also gives raises to city employees. Council voted 6-1 to approve the budget, with Council member Chris Pelly voting against.

In other actions, Council decided to establish a living wage rate will have to be paid by companies that receive city economic development incentives. Council also revised its regulations pertaining to accessory apartments. “The current [accessory dwelling units] proposal will give property owners more flexibility while also capping their maximum size,” City Urban Planner Vaidila Satvika said.

The 1.5 cent property tax increase will bring in an additional $1.7 million and offsets the loss of revenue caused by a new state law, which takes effect July 1, that bars all city governments from collecting annual privilege license fees from businesses. The law preempts what was once a reliable source of income for city governments across North Carolina.

A business license is required to conduct any business within Asheville corporate limits, with some exemptions. Funds were used to support general municipal activities, such as public safety, trash collection and parks and recreation, according to the city’s website. Since fees are determined by product or service category, many companies had to pay for several different licenses to cover all aspects of their operations.

Retailer, manufacturer and service firm fees had been determined by a formula based on gross receipts, with companies owing only $25 until receipts exceed $15,000. Wholesalers were charged using a similar fee structure that was modified to account for larger gross receipts. Still others paid a flat fee based on their specific operations. Restaurants with more than four seats, for example, paid $42.50 annually, movie theaters paid $200 per screen, mobile home dealers $25, state-licensed general contractors $10 and manicurists $2.50 per operator.

So while individual businesses will now enjoy varying savings, the city’s newly passed budget is designed to accommodate the aggregate loss — which City Manager Gary Jackson estimated at $1.5 million per year. The new law discontinuing city privilege licenses does not change state privilege-license policies.

 

Action agenda, as issued by the city of Asheville, is as follows:

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; Assistant City Manager Paul Fetherston; City Attorney Robin T. Currin; and City Clerk Magdalen Burleson

Absent: None

ITEM AND SUMMARY ACTION

Year End Fiscal Year 2015 Technical Budget Amendments: Adopted Unanimously

1. In the amount of $328,314.33 from unbudgeted Degradation Fee Revenue collected in the General Fund that is designated for the resurfacing program.

2. In the amount of $308,249.51 from unbudgeted land sale proceeds collected in the General Fund that are to be designated for the Capital Improvement Program.

Budget amendment in the Water Resources Fund in the amount of $57,002,939 to budget the refunding of the Series 2005 and Series 2007 Water Revenue Bonds. Adopted Unanimously

Resolution adopting a policy for prequalification of bidders for construction projects. Adopted Unanimously

Resolution amending the composition of the Citizen-Police Advisory Committee by converting the Asheville Police Officer – Sergeant in Community Relations member position from a voting member to a non-voting member. Adopted Unanimously

Resolution authorizing the City Manager to sign an Adopt-A-Park Agreement with Just Folks for a waiver of park use and special events permit fees for Triangle Park for Fiscal Year 2015-16. Adopted Unanimously

Resolution authorizing the City Manager to enter into a professional services contract with John Davenport Engineering Inc. for the redesign of Livingston Street and a portion of Depot Street into a complete street for construction as one of the City’s TIGER VI-funded projects. Adopted Unanimously

Ordinance granting a non-exclusive franchise to ExteNet Systems Inc. for installation of telecommunications facilities in the public right-of-way of the City of Asheville. Adopted Unanimously On First Reading

Budget amendment in the amount of $72,038 in the U.S. Cellular Center Capital Fund utilizing savings in the U.S. Cellular Center Operating Fund to cover costs associated with unexpected repair needs to the Exhibit Hall Air Conditioning units. Adopted Unanimously

Budget amendment in the General Capital Projects Fund in the amount of $13,063 from General Fund savings to increase city funding for the existing Job Access and Reverse Commute pedestrian signal grant. Adopted Unanimously

Resolution authorizing the Mayor to accept the conveyance of real property located on Lakewood Drive and Chiles Avenue from Buncombe County. Adopted Unanimously

Resolution authorizing the City Manager to execute a contract with Rogers Group Inc. for the Fiscal Year 2015 Asphalt Paving Project. Adopted Unanimously

Public hearing to consider an amendment to a previously-approved conditional zoning for property located at 275 and 281 Hazel Mill Road to develop 113 multi-family units. Adopted Unanimously

Public hearing to consider an amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance to revise regulations of accessory apartments. Adopted 6-1 w/Bothwell voting “no”

Ordinance to adopt the Fiscal year 2015-16 Annual Operating Budget. Adopted 6-1 w/Pelly voting “no”

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

Resolution revising the City Economic Development Incentive Policy, to use the median wage rate of new jobs created as a benchmark to determine quality job creation; and establish a benchmark for a living wage for companies that receive city economic development incentives. Adopted Unanimously

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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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3 thoughts on “City council approves budget, OKs living-wage incentives, relaxes ADU rules

  1. Jim

    Shame on a local government ran by cronies of the rich and seeks to tax property owners instead of those who make millions here CONTRIBUTING their fair share. Lot of progress here folks. For a band of thieves.

  2. I am disappointed that the city of Asheville chooses to raise the property taxes on residents instead of adding a tax on the hotel and motel room rates to cover the deficit. Tax the visitors – they will be the ones staying in all of the new rooms being built, and using our roads and facilities. The state is already raising the costs of license and tags on permanent residents. The long time natives are being driven out by the rising costs of living in Asheville city limits. It’s sad to me. I hate to lose my old homeplace because of the ever-rising property taxes.

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