City lays out what’s next for bonds

City voters approved a $74 million bond referendum in November. Now it's time for city officials to begin detailed planning about how the money will be used. Graphic by Scott Southwick
City voters approved a $74 million bond referendum in November. Now it's time for city officials to begin detailed planning about how the money will be used. Graphic by Scott Southwick

Now that Asheville voters have spoken in favor of $74 million in bond funding, what happens next? According to Assistant City Manager Cathy Ball, city staff members are eager to move forward. At the same time, she says, the quality of the city’s execution will be critical: “The way we do this work makes a big difference for our community.”

To guard against budget overruns, Ball explained to City Council on Dec. 13, each project budget will include a contingency amount, and all estimates used for planning purposes will include inflation projections. The city will use value engineering, a planning discipline that analyzes the cost and performance of building components to determine the lowest cost over the lifespan of the project while meeting functional requirements. Design contracts will require that projects achieve construction cost estimates equal to 90 percent or less of the project’s overall budget when the design is 90 percent complete.

Staffing up to manage the bond-related projects over the next seven years could be a challenge. As City Manager Gary Jackson explained before the Council decided to place the bond issue on November’s ballot, the city will need to add new staff members to handle the increased load.

According to Ball, city managers decided to create a director of capital projects position to oversee all city capital projects, which include $122 million in projects under its capital improvement plan over the next five years, as well as $74 million in bond-funded projects.

An interim capital projects director will be appointed in the near future, Ball says. That person will provide leadership while the city searches for a permanent director. The city also plans to hire six additional related employees within the Capital Projects Division.

Ensuring timely project progress and completion, Ball continued, will be accomplished through detailed project scheduling for each individual project. She described an interactive website developed by Winston-Salem to manage and communicate project information for $139.2 million in bonds approved by that city’s voters in 2014. Asheville will create a similar website, she said, which will show residents each project’s status and the total amount of money spent in real time.

In January, Ball said, an interim working team made up of members of the city’s Public Works, Parks and Recreation, and Facilities Management departments will continue planning for bond projects. Also in January, Council will hold a work session to consider next steps and priorities. As the fiscal year 2018 city budget is developed from January through June, Council will plan for bond-related projects alongside other projects in the city’s Capital Improvement Program. Council will approve the FY 2018 budget in June, she said, for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

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About Virginia Daffron
Associate Editor and News Reporter. Lover of mountains, native of WNC. Follow me @virginiadaffron

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21 thoughts on “City lays out what’s next for bonds

  1. Lulz

    LOL, and again folks the waste, fraud, and outright incompetence is showing. Let’s create phony government jobs to mete out the bond money. And then continue to raise taxes to pay for them. Unreal.

    • Lulz

      Oh and congrats voters of Asheville. At least 6 people with connections will get great jobs while 75% of the employed people here will continue to just barely make it.

      Boobywell will be right along to tell us how undertaxed we are.

      • Lulz

        LOL, I’m trying to figure this out. Do we vote for more overt corruption because we hope to become part of the pyramid scheme that is government crony capitalism or is it because we actually believe the crap they’re serving??? Because you folks that support this BS have got to either be benefiting from it monetarily or are about the dumbest people on the planet.

        • luther blissett

          Clearly, it’s because you have not offered your compelling vision to the voters in an election campaign. Only you have the power to change this.

        • Deplorable Infidel

          tried to tell them … we clearly have some of the stupidest people on the planet within a few square miles.

          • luther blissett

            Oh, spare us the faux heroism. You’re not brave truth-tellers standing up to be counted and offering a credible alternative.

            I’m not sure what kind of person takes satisfaction from believing that everybody they encounter on a daily basis is deluded, ignorant or corrupt, but that’s a pretty sad way to live your life.

          • Lulz

            Oh and it ain’t every person I encounter but political hacks and cronies that use the system as a unending money source for their own selfish gains and interests and those of their crony friends.

          • luther blissett

            By your own words, you think everybody who disagrees with you is either stupid or corrupt, and you clearly think the city is overrun with people who disagree with you. That Ingles bagger is obviously a political hack. That Denny’s server must be plotting a way to become part of “the pyramid scheme of government crony capitalism.”

            What a way to live your life.

  2. Deplorable Infidel

    What happens if the lawsuit to stop bond issuance wins ?

    The writer failed to mention it. WHY do we need another bureaucrat to run the bond scam allocations ?

    • Lulz

      LOL, because in the end it isn’t about improvements but wealth transfers to the well connected. Nothing more and nothing less.

    • Lulz

      I’m sure we’ll see “capital improvements” around Biltmore and the RAD but not so much where they’re really needed. Where people are paying and not seeing anything of value for their money. That can only go on for so long even with the newly gentrified rich who you have to have move here to keep up with the increasing taxes. Eventually even they’ll be squeezed out.

  3. Bright

    Money, money, money…how about taking some of it and and permitting the busses to run full Sunday service to the VA Hospital? Hard to believe, but employees there travel back and forth 24/7! Have some mercy for the people who use public transit…they are saving you people money, which leaves more funds available for your tourism benefits.

    • Deplorable Infidel

      sometimes employees anywhere must make alternative travel arrangements. taxpayers cannot haul everyone all the time.

    • luther blissett

      “how about taking some of it and and permitting the busses to run full Sunday service to the VA Hospital?”

      I’m all for expanded transit services, but the bonds are for capital projects, not operating expenditures.

        • luther blissett

          Street maintenance, by strict mandate of the NC General Assembly.

          I’ve lost hope that you might get embarrassed at repeatedly losing your pants over TWENTY DOLLARS and trying to deceive people that it is something other than TWENTY DOLLARS by saying “300% increase”.

          But keep hating, hater.

  4. Curious

    How can city citizens purchase these bonds? Would it make sense for them to be available for purchase directly to city taxpayers?

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