Aside from voting on its consent agenda, Asheville City Council isn’t scheduled to take any action during its meeting of Tuesday, April 12. But members are slated to hear two reports on hot-button issues: a proposal to restructure the city’s boards and commissions and the Community Reparations Commission.
Deputy City Clerk Sarah Gross will present an update on the city’s plan to reduce its number of citizen advisory groups from 20 to four, with each new board aligned with a focus area of the 2018 Living Asheville Comprehensive Plan. Several prominent city figures, including current Council candidate Andrew Fletcher and transparency advocate Patrick Conant, have come out against the proposal, saying it would eliminate key avenues for feedback on local government.
According to a presentation available before the meeting, the city has held two focus groups with board leaders and community stakeholders and four workshops with 81 total participants. The city plans to create a first working group on the topic in April and will hold a work session Tuesday, May 10. The restructuring would need Council approval before being enacted.
Council will then hear an update regarding its Community Reparations Commission. According to the presentation, all 25 appointments have now been made by Council, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners and residents in historically impacted Black neighborhoods; City Manager Debra Campbell had told Council in February 2021 that the commission would be seated by July of that year. The first meeting of the commission will be held during the last week of April or first week in May, with the full meeting schedule to follow.
The city has also named a team of consultants to oversee the commission: Senior Project Manager Debra Clark Jones; Assistant Project Manager, Criminal Justice Liaison and Facilitator Sala Menaya Merritt; Economic Development Liaison and Facilitator Tara J. Brown; Housing Liaison and Facilitator Tyshaun Johnson; Healthcare Liaison and Facilitator Dionne Greenlee-Jones; and Education Liaison and Facilitator Amieris Lavender. In September, Asheville signed a nearly $366,000 contract with Jones’ firm, TEQuity, to manage the reparations process.
In other news
Prior to the formal meeting, Council will hold a work session on the fiscal year 2022-23 budget starting at 2:30 p.m. in the Banquet Hall at Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville.
The meeting is open to the public; however, public comment will not be accepted.
Consent agenda and public comment
The consent agenda for the meeting contains six items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include the following:
- A resolution authorizing Campbell to increase a 2021 Asheville Police Department contract with USS ISS Agency LLC for background investigation services from $80,000 to $140,000. The additional funding will be allocated from the existing APD budget. Police officer candidates and civilian employees that work for the APD must pass a background investigation before they are hired. (In September 2019, then-APD Chief Chris Bailey resigned after just 45 days on the job after decades-old felony charges surfaced, citing “personal reasons.”)
- A resolution authorizing Campbell to apply for and accept up to $175,000 in grant funding sponsored by the federal Law Enforcement and Mental Health and Wellness Act to fund a wellness coordinator position within the APD. The new hire would address physical fitness and nutrition issues along with mental health services, peer support and suicide prevention.
- A resolution adding a Council work session to discuss federal American Rescue Plan Act funding allocations at 10 a.m. Monday, April 25, in the Banquet Hall at Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville.
Council’s regular meeting will take place at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville Banquet Hall, located at 87 Haywood St., starting at 5 p.m. The meeting will also be livestreamed through Asheville’s public engagement hub and on the city’s YouTube channel. Members of the public can also listen live by calling 855-925-2801, meeting code 7596.
Members of the public who wish to speak during the meeting must attend in person and sign up at the door; no live remote comment will be permitted. Those wanting to make a slide or PowerPoint presentation at the meeting must submit their materials to City Clerk Maggie Burleson at MBurleson@AshevilleNC.gov by noon Monday, April 11.
Prerecorded voicemail messages can also be left at 855-925-2801, meeting code 7596; written comments can be sent to AshevilleCityCouncilApr122022@publicinput.com until 9 a.m. April 12. General comments for City Council can be sent at any time to AshevilleNCCouncil@AshevilleNC.gov.
The full meeting agenda and supporting documents can be found here.