Supporters launch campaign to pass A-B Tech sales-tax referendum *Multimedia*

A-B Tech administrators, teachers and students joined with community leaders Sept. 12 to launch “Jobs for the Future,” a campaign on behalf of a 0.25 percent sales-tax increase to fund capital improvements at the school.

If Buncombe County voters approve a Nov. 8 referendum on the tax, it would generate an estimated $6 million to $7 million annually through 2029, when it would be scheduled to expire.

Supporters at the event, held in the school’s Rhododendron Building, said the measure was desperately needed to fund new infrastructure and renovations, including new classrooms, offices and parking areas. They sought to frame the issue in terms of economic development, arguing the school serves as a crucial training ground and jobs incubator.

“It’s not a tax; it’s an investment,” asserted the school’s president, Hank Dunn, noting that enrollment at the school is expected to increase by over 10,000 students over the next nine years. Currently, it serves roughly 26,000. The majority of them are supportive of the initiative, said Dunn, as he and other officials unveiled grassroots marketing materials such as yard signs, fliers and armbands.

Bracelots Photos by Jerry Nelson

In his remarks, Dunn urged the hundred or so attendees to help get out the vote, and said he thinks the measure has a good chance of passing despite likely resistance to any new taxes. Here’s a clip of him speaking:

Kit Cramer, president of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce also spoke in favor of passing the referendum, saying that the organization only endorsed the measure after a lengthy vetting process. She also argued that it would help create jobs and business opportunities; here’s a clip:

Officials said the measure had bipartisan support, noting that the campaign was co-chaired by Buncombe County Democratic Sheriff, Van Duncan and Lou Bissette, a Republican former mayor of Asheville in the mid ‘80s.
Lou Bissette
Pictured here: Lou Bissette addressed the crowd in a prerecorded video message.

However, not all partisans agree with those leaders on the issue. The Buncombe County Republican Party is organizing opposition to the tax, with a Sept. 15 meeting to discuss it planned for 6 p.m. at Ryan’s Steak House on Patton Avenue. The featured speaker will be former BCGOP chair Robert Malt, who will “outline the reasons to reject [the sales tax] as well as deceptions on the issue,” according to a press release.

Here’s a slideshow of photos provided by A-B Tech that show some of the areas school officials say the tax funds will help them improve:

All other photos by Jerry Nelson



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4 thoughts on “Supporters launch campaign to pass A-B Tech sales-tax referendum *Multimedia*

  1. Orbit DVD

    Perhaps instead of a sales tax increase we should all buy a little less online.

  2. HolyHoaxBatman

    Most of that slideshow is a joke. Many of those areas aren’t used space. The “water pump” area is normal. How many of you with basements have a pump for when it rains? The outside of pines/madonna needs some paint. The “madonna building exterior” doors lead to a basement with that isn’t used and can’t be used. I agree that parking is a mess, but the college refuses to bring in a parking lot consultant to see how to better use the space (plus, several parking lots are in the process of being built). The unfinished space has been that way since the building was built. The leaky stairway has had those same streaks on them for 10 years and no one will clean it. The “210” room is the same unfinished space as previously shown. The “make shift ceiling support” isn’t hold up the ceiling, it is holding up a pipe.

  3. Richard Mauney

    These pictures seem to miss the point with regard to making the case for the 1/4 cent sales tax. This indicates a deferred maintenance problem on existing facilities; but, it will be the county’s responsibility to pay for maintenance on new facilities as well. In addition, some of the pictures seem to show crawl space areas with the moisture barrier, but would lead one to believe there is incomplete construction on campus. I don’t think the decision to pursue the sales tax now, given the current condition of the economy, is really in the best interests of the community or the college.

  4. Betty

    Good reasons to vote NO on this referedum:
    1. The money cannot be designated for AB Tech. In spite of all the talk about it going to AB Tech, the commissioners cannot make this binding upon themselves or any future group of county commissioners. The money will go into the general fund. The county has a big construction renovation project on the Courthouse. Who’s to say that if they run short on that, the money “promised” to AB Tech won’t go elsewhere? No one can promise that.
    2. Does AB Tech really need a $7 million, 24,000 square foot fitness center? I don’t think so.
    3. AB Tech has NO PLANS to pay for operating costs for any new buildings. You can’t just spend money on a building and have it take care of itself.
    4. Why does Hank Dunn want to build new buildings? They have leaky roofs and other needs on existing buildings.
    5. Don’t be fooled that this is a temporary tax increase. This is political double-speak.
    6. A multi-million dollar tax increase takes money out of the local economy. It will not create lasting new jobs.

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