Solar at Burton Street Peace Garden

Green in brief: Solarize reaches lowest pricing for community solar

The Solarize rate of $2.45 per watt of electricity generation is roughly 9% cheaper than the statewide average of $2.67 per watt listed by EnergySage, an industry website. The program, spearheaded by the nonprofit Blue Horizons Project, is able to offer the discount through bulk purchasing of solar equipment for Buncombe County residents.

ANCHOR members

Low-barrier shelter may fill temporary housing gaps

Newly formed Asheville nonprofit Accessing Needed Crisis and Critical Help Outreach and Resources is proposing a low-barrier, high-access shelter that would forego many of the usual rules for tenants. Start-up costs could reach $6.5 million, with annual operating costs of $3 million, and would initially be funded through Asheville’s approximately $26.1 million in federal coronavirus relief.

Entrance of Mission Hospital's Emergency Department

Patients, staff challenge quality of care at Mission Hospital under HCA management

Since investor-owned HCA Healthcare bought nonprofit Mission Health System in 2019, stories are increasingly common of long waits in the emergency room, unsanitary conditions, broken or missing equipment, patients having to lie in their own urine and feces, doctors leaving because of pay disputes and nurses weeping in the hallways because of stress and chronic understaffing.

Vance Monument removal

Vance Monument removal begins

Work started May 17, and demolition of the 123-year-old monument to Zebulon Baird Vance in downtown Asheville is expected to take two weeks to complete, says city spokesperson Polly McDaniel. Costs to take down the structure block by block will reach roughly $114,000, while an additional $25,500 has been allocated for site restoration following the monument’s removal.

Asheville City Schools central office entrance

Asheville schools resist transparen­cy in budget talks

Specifics on how the Asheville City Schools system spends its local allocation (at over $5,800 per student, the second-highest in North Carolina) and its plans to reduce costs have been hard to come by — and may have been concealed in violation of state open meetings law during a May 18 special closed session of the Asheville City Board of Education.

Tony McDowell

Asheville projects higher taxes for budget priorities

The proposed tax rate of 41.3 cents appears lower than the current rate of 42.89 cents, explained city Director of Finance Tony McDowell. However, the median tax bill will still go up from $995 to $1,215 — more than 22% — due to the 27% increase in median property value for Asheville residents assessed by this year’s Buncombe County revaluation.