Letters to the Editor: Referendum edition

Xpress received a number of letters this week pertaining to the Nov. 8 A-B Tech quarter-cent sales-tax referendum. Because the next issue of Xpress publishes Nov. 10, we’re presenting the letters in this special online edition.

Please feel free to post your thoughts, endorsements, civil expressions of opposition or responses to the following letters in the comments field. Letters posted in the comments field will not be edited by Xpress, and are subject to our commenting policy (copied at the end of this entry).

Your opportunity to vote local

I’ve been a community organizer in Asheville for a few years now. I never thought I’d be doing this kind of work, but I can’t imagine doing anything else. The best feeling in the world is when you see change take place before your own eyes. One of the things I hear often is, “I wish politics was more local.” I can understand. Politics can be a messy place especially on a national level. It’d be nice to cast a vote for something local and see the positive impact of your vote.
On Nov. 8, 2011, we have an opportunity to vote for A-B Tech. Your vote will fund educational and job-training facilities at A-B Tech. It’s the next great investment in our community college. Due to state law, the ballot won’t say A-B Tech, but a vote for the “County Sales and Use Tax” is a vote for A-B Tech.
I look forward to walking through A-B Tech with its new buildings and improvements and say: “I voted for this. I voted for education. I voted for A-B Tech.
Join me in being a voter for education, jobs and A-B Tech on Nov. 8.

Paul Choi
Campaign for A-B Tech

The quarter-cent sales tax — not now

I know A-B Tech has facilities needs, but not to the tune of $130 million. Let me put it in perspective. If the college uses $10 million to address deferred maintenance on current facilities, which is a gracious plenty, then that leaves $120 million for new buildings. Now, at an estimated construction cost of $240 per square foot, they will be able to build another 500,000 square feet of new buildings. The entire Victoria Road Campus is about 600,000 square feet. So this sales-tax increase generates enough money to almost double the size of the main campus. Keep in mind that it is the county’s responsibility to pay for the operation and upkeep of A-B Tech’s facilities. If the county can’t pay for this now without this new tax then how do they plan to pay for the ongoing maintenance and operation of the new buildings to be built with this tax money?
Before A-B Tech can begin construction on a new building, they will have to specify to the State Board what it will cost to operate the building throughout its life cycle, and the county will have to commit in writing to provide this operational funding. So, the college will soon have to come back to the county for an increase in funding over and above the money being raised by this tax. I think it is only fair to make it clear to the community how this $130 million, and all that goes with it, will affect the county’s budget priorities in the future. As a citizen, I am concerned that this sales tax generates excess money for A-B Tech while there are other unmet needs in our community. And, because it over-funds A-B Tech construction, it will result either in less funding for competing priorities in our community or more tax increases that have not yet been disclosed.
Framed in the right way, I support providing funds to A-B Tech to meet its realistic space needs. But, I have to call it as I see it. This sales-tax increase comes at a bad economic time and targets more money to A-B Tech than the college really needs.  In this economy people are struggling just to make ends meet. In my opinion, it is disingenuous to play on their emotional support of A-B Tech in order to push through a funding overreach like this. This sales-tax increase is not in the best interest of the community as a whole. In better economic times, and with greater transparency on the facilities needs of A-B Tech and the economic impact to the county, maybe.

Richard Mauney

A-B Tech needs citizens’ help

For more than five decades, A-B Tech has provided training and re-training opportunities to Buncombe County residents.  It has done so with integrity, financial honesty and accountability. Now A-B Tech needs your help.
In 2007, the North Carolina General Assembly passed the One-Quarter Cent County Sales and Use Tax Act for every county in the state. The purpose was to fund much-needed projects including schools, roads and infrastructure. Included in the Act was the mandate that only generic language could be used on the ballot. That’s why A-B Tech’s name could not be used.
Upon passage of the referendum, Buncombe County will borrow the money to begin construction at A-B Tech. The debt will be issued through Certificates of Participation. Like bonds, the Certificates will be sold to investors. The Certificates will be tied to the 2029 expiration date. That means the money will be legally obligated to A-B Tech facilities until 2029 when the tax expires.
The funds go to A-B Tech as it grows to 38,000 students in the next 10 years. I have voted for the referendum and I encourage you to support it as well.

M.L. Smith

Mountain Xpress Commenting policy
The Golden Rule: The basic goal in allowing comments on Xpress articles is to try to bring meaningful information to the dialogue while staying respectful of others. Think before you post.

The specifics:

● Ad hominem and personal attacks are not permitted. Criticize the ideas, not the people.
● No trolling. Don’t make posts that are simply inflammatory, off topic or perpetuating your personal soapbox (see below). Substance is a key to not being labeled a troll, but substance alone will not prevent you from being considered a troll.
● Stay on topic. Respond to the letter, article, blog, etc. Don’t be a troll (see above).
● No pornographic, sexually offensive, sexually explicit, objectifying material, inflammatory or vulgar language. Simple rule. Xpress editor judgment applies here.
● Respect the privacy of others. Do not post other’s — or your own — private phone numbers, addresses, pictures, etc.
● Be yourself. Do not attempt to impersonate another user or person, or use multiple identities in an attempt to dodge our comment policy.
● No spamming. No commercial-oriented posts and no flooding with useless content — or content designed to encourage trolling other sites or to lead viewers to sites that violate these policies.
● Please respect and abide by the decisions of the moderators. Self-explanatory. If you have issues with moderation, we want to hear about them, but the thread where the moderation took place isn’t the place. We may briefly answer questions in a thread, but prefer that you contact us. Your concerns will be addressed as soon as possible.
● Keep in mind that our team of moderators does not work 24/7. If you submitted a post and it doesn’t go live within a short time, consider the day and time of your post, the possibility that your post may be under review, or the likelihood that we’re working on some other, more time-dependent aspect of our daily/weekly duties.

Consequences for not adhering to Xpress general policies include the following, not necessarily in this order:

1. You will be reprimanded.
2. Your comment will be held or removed.
3. You’ll be moved to moderation.
4. Your account will be banned.

Xpress reserves the right to remove any content, comments and/or Xpress accounts at any time for any reason, or for no apparent reason at all. Xpress will not amend, alter or remove user comments at the request of a user.

You are solely responsible for your interactions with other users of the site.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

5 thoughts on “Letters to the Editor: Referendum edition

  1. Why did Senator Martin Nesbitt (D) kill a bill in the NCGA to make the revenues from the tax hike binding at the state level for exclusive use for A-B Tech infrastructure improvements?

    • zulu

      Tim, have you contacted Nesbitt to find out why? Did he say why? Have you bothered to try to find out his reasons, or would you rather just lazily slip into one of your comfortable conspiracy theories?

      If you are against the AB Tech tax, campaign against it and vote against it. Call everybody you know and tell them it sucks, and stand on the Smokey Park Bridge with a sign. But please STOP assuming that those who proposed the tax are up to no good. Just because you don’t agree with them or like them doesn’t make them bad people with underhanded plans.

      Sometimes good people have different ideas. They don’t have to be demonized to be disagreed with.

    • zulu

      ooooo…David Gantt recorded a phone call for a measure that he has vocally and publicly supported. Surely a sign of devious and evil intent. I’m glad you’re on the case, Tim!

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.