BID bumped until Fall, Council agrees on budget

After a lengthy public hearing, Asheville City Council voted 6-0 to delay a vote on the controversial Business Improvement District proposal until Sept. 25 due to concerns about the governing structure, finances and details of its services.

The public hearing saw Council chambers and two overflow rooms packed. BID supporters arrived early and occupied the front rows of the chamber’s seats, sporting blue stickers. Outside, some of the BID’s opponents banged on drums and held a rally against the proposal.

Many of the BID proponents, including longtime planners, former downtown board members and business owners, emphasized their work in improving the area and asserted that the special tax and services district is necessary to keep it a regional and national attraction. Joe Minicozzi, for instance, noted the almost endless amount of cigarette butts that volunteers have removed from downtown streets; the BID would address this problem and others.

Opponents of BID ranged from hoteliers concerned about the tax burden to activists condemning the proposal as an undemocratic “city within a city” dominated by wealthy property owners. The public hearing ran for more than two hours. Downtown business owner and former Asheville Vice Mayor Chris Peterson criticized the BID plan.

Most of the Council members were supportive of the BID in principle and thanked the organizers for their work, but had concerns over the composition of its board, as well as its bylaws, financial details and powers. The consensus was that more time is needed to address these issues.

Council finally voted to delay the matter until Sept. 25, though some noted that they could choose to delay it again at that time if concerns are not resolved. As the BID failed to get approval before the July 1 beginning of the fiscal year, this means that the earliest a BID could get up and running is in the summer of 2013.

In other action, Council:
• passed a budget 5-1 for the upcoming year with a 2 percent raise for city staff, but promised to revisit the matter in the fall when sales tax revenues are better known, and raise salaries further if they’re doing well. The budget’s passage marked the end of a prolonged dispute over the size of a raise for staff.

Council member Cecil Bothwell was the sole dissenting vote, as he had hoped for a 3 percent increase.

• passed 6-0: $3.5 million in tax incentives and infrastructure improvements for the New Belgium brewery in the River Arts District.

• passed 6-0: over $500,000 in tax incentives for 176-units of housing, mostly workforce and affordable housing, on Glen Bridge Road in South Asheville.


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6 thoughts on “BID bumped until Fall, Council agrees on budget

  1. Matthew Burd

    The City complains that it has no money and cant afford to pick up cigarette butts yet gives away $4,000,000.00 in the same night to rich corperations.

  2. Gordon Smith


    Thanks for the opportunity to clarify something. The economic incentives for New Belgium Brewery are a tax rebate. They will pay their tax and have it granted back to them. Upon completion of the incentives, NBB will be contributing over $500k/year to city revenues. The same is true for Linamar.


    • Matthew Burd

      Sorry if this post’s twice but the first time it didn’t look like it went through.

      I think its fairly screwed up that you are trying to hide the fact that you are giving away $4 million dollars to 2 huge corporations by using wrap-around statements like “They will pay their tax and have it granted back to them.”… It seems fairly obvious that this means they are getting kickbacks from the city; but by making this sort of statement you create confusion for the average citizen by first stating “they will pay their tax”. Your such a politician!

      I’m sure that you are aware that Obama, Clinton, Romney and Boehern are ALL for extending the Bush Tax cuts. Why should the people of Asheville also have to line the “job creators” pockets when its being done on the national level with unchallenged and bypartisan support?

      By selling out to these corporations you are not only hurting Asheville but also the rest of America. You are setting a standard of servitude to the robber barons. Your arguement may be, “Well if we don’t do this for them, then they’ll just go somewhere else and get the same kickbacks there” but this is a coppout. Its the same as saying “If I don’t steal it someone else will” and by participating in this sort of behaviore you are responcible for the standard it sets across the nation.


      Thanks for the sellout.

  3. mat catastrophe

    The cigarette butt shenanigans amuse me. When did Minicozzi start taking lessons from Chad Nesbitt?

    Also, Mr. Minicozzi, if there is already a volunteer cadre of citizens out there collecting butts, why are you advocating for a tax increase on property owners to do it?

    Oh, that’s right. Because it isn’t really about cigarette butts. It’s about codifying some bizarre idea about the “uniqueness” of the City of Asheville in the name of bringing in even more new, shiny hotels and tourists who can decide they “sort of” like the town but wouldn’t it be nice if all the “goddamn” hippies were suddenly disappeared? Along with, say, the homeless people?

    I mean, isn’t that the point? To create a cleaner and more homogeneous version of the Asheville myth so that you can get the city on more Conde Nast publication’s “Best Ten Cities to….” lists?


    • michael mac

      Mat, sounds like you are paranoid. Nowhere in the discussions has there been any desire for the folks behind this to run off hippies and build more hotels. A few less homeless peeing on the sidewalks might be nice though. It is a bit tedious to debate against fabricated fears. Please focus.

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