Council returns to in-person meetings with June 8 budget hearing

Asheville city seal

More than a year has passed since Asheville City Council traded the grandiose chambers of City Hall for the modesty of home offices in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since April 2020, Council members have met virtually for their biweekly meetings, with members of the public calling in or submitting emails to make their voices heard.

But beginning Tuesday, June 8, Council and the community will once again participate in city business face to face. The meeting will take place in the Banquet Hall at Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville at 5 p.m. (The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners returned to in-person meetings on May 18).

The main event of the night will be a public hearing on City Manager Debra Campbell’s proposed 2021-22 annual operating budget, which includes an effective property tax increase of 3 cents per $100 in valuation. Council members will then have two weeks to modify the spending plan and tax rate before their scheduled vote on adopting the budget Tuesday, June 22.

Commenters wishing to speak live at the meeting will be required to attend in person, but the city will continue to accept email ( and voicemail (855-925-2801, meeting code 7730) comments received by 9 a.m. Tuesday morning.

The meeting can also be accessed via phone at the same number used for commenting, as well as through the city’s YouTube channel, for those who do not wish to participate in person.

In other news

Council will consider a resolution that would redirect $2.1 million from the sale of city-owned property to fund community reparations. Land at 172 and 174 South Charlotte Street was sold to White Labs, a San Diego-based yeast manufacturer and brewpub, for approximately $3.7 million in December.

According to a staff report, a portion of the property includes land the city purchased in the 1970s as part of the urban renewal of East End/Valley Street, which disrupted existing Black communities. Federal restrictions thus required $1.6 million of the sale proceeds to fund the city’s Community Development Block Grant program. In April, that money was used to purchase land for the expansion of the Deaverview housing community.

During an Oct. 27 Council meeting, commenters had called for the remaining $2.1 million to go toward reparations. At the time, however, Mayor Esther Manheimer said some of the money had already been earmarked for an expansion of the city’s transit center, and staff did not provide a direct answer to former Council member Brian Haynes when asked if the funds could be directed to reparations.

The staff report notes that previous iterations of Campbell’s proposed budget included a $1.2 million reparations appropriation from the city’s fund balance. That money would be removed from the budget if the resolution is approved.

Council is also expected to proclaim June 19 as Juneteenth — a commemoration of the 1865 announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation by Union soldiers to enslaved people in Texas — during the Tuesday meeting. The staff report emphasizes that if the funding resolution passes, Asheville’s first reparations money would be established in advance of the new city holiday.

Consent agenda and public comment

The consent agenda for the meeting contains 15 items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include the following:

The full meeting agenda and supporting documents can be found at this link.


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