Asheville City Council says goodbye to outgoing members, confronts budget woes

In addition to covering today’s Asheville City Council meeting for an upcoming article in Mountain Xpress, staff writer David Forbes also turned in this coverage via Twitter, the micro-blogging program:

• 4:59 pm: City Council meeting is about to begin. It’s the last for council members Miller, Cape & Mumpower.

• Mayor Bellamy is presenting resolution of appreciation for Kelly Miller, praising his “leadership” on issues like graffiti, parks.

• Miller: “We did a lot this last year” on balancing budget, using stimulus dollars.

• Miller has received proclamation signed by mayor, council, council member-elect Cecil Bothwell.

• Council approves gun buyback for the 2 weekends before X-mas.

• At Mumpower’s suggestion, a clause is added that city will consider reselling guns instead of destroying them in future.

• 6:06 p.m.: Council votes 6-1 for 4 stimulus projects including improving sidewalks, repaving Coxe Ave.

• Mumpower cast the dissenting vote, citing concerns about stimulus adding to fed deficit.

• City is claiming 2.5% carbon reduction over last year, mostly from moving to 4-day work week.

• City budget estimates predict a $659,000 shortfall this year, and a “significant imbalance” in 2010-11.

• City health-care costs are a big part of shortfall, exceed revenues by over $1 million.

• 7:01 p.m.: Health care costs city $13 million annually, and have risen 10-15% each year for the last 4 years.

• Mumpower: Decreasing fund balance “comes from not living within our means… Nxt budget year is really scar.”

• City staff are projecting flat revenues, and an increase in costs of health care, transit, operations for nxt year.

• Cape: Council has dealt with capital improvements; “we’ve done the right thing
by our citizenry to deal with things long-neglected”

• Projected budget gap for Asheville next year: $5.1 million.

• The oft-opposed Cape & Mumpower are joking about possibility of post-council radio show “Cape & Carl.”

• 8:45 p.m.: Council unanimously approves parts of annexation agreement with Woodfin including a promise not to annex any parts of Leicester.

• Council delays decision on living wage requirement for city contracts until next year.

• living wage= $9.85 with benefits, $11.35 without.

• 10:17 p.m.: Council votes 7-0 to delay discussion on downtown master plan recommendations, including scaling back its own power over large developments.

• Mumpower expresses “measured pleasure” at leaving council, thanks “everyone for helping to make me smarter.”

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3 thoughts on “Asheville City Council says goodbye to outgoing members, confronts budget woes

  1. Jeff Fobes

    According to @drewreisinger on Twitter at 10 p.m.: “AVL City Council takes up a “living wage” policy for city. AVL Chamber of Commerce stands up against a living wage.”

  2. travelah

    That is an interesting observation. Are they talking about increasing the cost of city business only or forcing this upon all businesses in the city? The most recent suggested wage I have seen (as supported by the NC Council of Churches) is $12.32 however for a family of 4 it is $21.28. Because of the types of businesses that pay less than this, I don’t think this would fuel an exodus out of the city but it would certainly lead to laid off employees and most certainly a great hesitation to add additional workers under any circumstance except rapid growth.

  3. Alan

    Destroying all those guns is a major waste of tax dollars.
    Repaving coxe avenue will only speed up traffic and increase the danger. The patches are free speed bumps.
    I’m glad they’re promising not to annex parts of Leicester because giving Asheville votes to Leicesterites would devastate Asheville’s culturally progressive potential; like gay benefits, which would greatly reduce health care costs because gays will collect less than a quarter of the child benefits.
    I can’t wait for the new council!
    The living wage is probably for city employees and those of city contractors. Especially now, with deflation, it will cost jobs. It’s better to spread the payroll as widely as possible, and wide means thin unless you raise taxes. So this would be bad, but I think it will happen anyway. Though I don’t really mind much if Asheville drives businesses out into Leicester near me, or even Madison County, because it would save me gas whenever I work or shop.

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