At a relatively short meeting tonight, Asheville City Council heard a number of reports on matters ranging from finance to crime. (Pictured: Council members Marc Hunt and Cecil Bothwell; photo by Max Cooper)
These reports are a regular part of Council’s meetings, but this agenda had a particularly high number of them, they included:
• Asheville-Buncombe Crimestoppers. Chair David Herbert touted the program as an effective check against criminality in the area. While most citizens are law-abiding, “there are murderers, bank robbers, molesters, and rapists…roaming and hiding in our neighborhoods as we speak.” Last year, Lt. Randy Sorrells of the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office said, Crimestoppers got over 400 tips and paid just over $4,000.
• The Downtown Commission. Chair Bruce Hazzard said this board is “a filter for what happens in downtown,” tasked with the difficult goal of keeping the charm of the city core while allowing it to change, and that current development rules aren’t suited for the smaller scale renovation projects coming before the commission since the economy slowed down. Currently, the commission is looking into walkability in the city’s core, among other issues.
• Transportation. The city is due for a five-year study of its transit conditions. In previous years, those studies have relied on “borrowed data,” taking a similar urban area and projecting Asheville’s traffic and transit accordingly. But now, Transportation Director Ken Putnam said, it’s necessary for Asheville to gather its own data, and the state Department of Transportation is offering assistance to make that happen. Going forward, he noted, this will give the city more accurate information when dealign with state and federal governments.
• Water. Phil Kleisler, the city’s project director for a study of a potential merger of its water system with the Metropolitan Sewerage District, noted that he’ll unveil the city’s report on the possible impacts Dec. 11. MSD presented an initial report earlier this month, and will discuss further issues, including possible “modest compensation” (in the words of City Manager Gary Jackson) this Friday.
• Finances. Asheville is on-target on the financial front, Budget Manager Tony McDowell said, with fees up, sales tax revenues slightly below projections and property taxes coming in as anticipated. Expenditures on health care have declined, but fuel costs are rising.
Council also approved, 6-0, the voluntary annexation of part of the Falcon Ridge subdivision in Haw Creek. A rezoning to allow the expansion of the Wellington Estates manufactured home park also passed 6-0, but Council will reconsider whether to charge the owners an open space fee at its Dec. 11 meeting.
Mayor Terry Bellamy was absent due to illness.