Asheville City Council preview: of budgets and benefits

The Asheville City Council has a full agenda tomorrow, both at the formal meeting and the worksession that precedes it, where Council will discuss the anticipated $5 million deficit the city faces next year and the implementation of domestic-partner benefits.

At the worksession, Council will discuss the $1 million budget deficit the city is facing this year and the $5 million deficit looming for next year, as well as more specific areas such as health benefits and the water system.

Asheville is far from alone in facing a sizable budget shortfall next year. Research accompanying the staff presentation shows that Concord, Durham and Wilmington are all anticipating similar or higher deficits.

As part of the health benefits discussion, Council will also discuss implementing domestic-partner benefits for same-sex couples, something it endorsed in a 4-2 vote a month ago.

However, contrary to early reports in Xpress, Council will not take another vote on the domestic-partner benefits issue at the March 9 meeting, or for some time to come. “It will probably be until October before anything happens with it,” Council member Gordon Smith, who proposed the move, tells Xpress. Indeed, a summary of staff’s plan to implement the benefits calls for research from June to October of this year, before eventually implementing the benefits at the beginning of the 2011-12 fiscal year.

In other actions, Council will also decide whether or not to endorse Mountain Area Information Network’s pursuit of federal stimulus funds for a cloud computing project, and which of three proposals to endorse for the pursuit a National Endowment for the Arts grant. Other items on the agenda include consideration of higher fares (and shorter waits) in the transit system and a rezoning on Long Shoals Road.

The council meeting begins at 5 p.m. on the second floor of City Hall. The worksession begins at 3 p.m. on the first floor.

— David Forbes, staff writer


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