The suggested text of the referendum reads:
“Shall the City of Asheville undertake the sale or lease of its water treatment system and water distribution system, including the reservoirs, watershed lands,
water lines, pump stations, storage tanks and other facilities used by the City of Asheville for the treatment and distribution of water?”
State law allows a city to hold a referendum on whether or not to lease or sell a water system.
“The language of the statute limits the voters eligible to participate in such a referendum to City voters,” the city staff report on the matter reads. “The results of the referendum would be binding such that, if the vote was ‘no,’ the system could not be sold or leased.”
The referendum would be held Nov. 6. At a special July 31 worksession, Council members proposed the idea as part of a “kitchen sink” in Council member Gordon Smith’s words, towards a controversial ultimatum from a state legislative commission that told the city to begin “good faith negotiations” on transferring its water system to the Metropolitan Sewerage District. The city has also launched a study of the details of a merger with MSD, seeking to talk further with its officials, and trying to arrange an Aug. 27 meeting with the local legislative delegation.