The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners might look into eliminating the Buncombe County School System's fund balance and pivoting a sales tax for A-B Tech capital projects to inch closer to a revenue-neutral property tax rate.

Schools may be key to property tax relief

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners held a nearly five-hour budget workshop May 16, a forum dedicated to presentations and requests from county departments. However, talks also showed a possible path toward nudging closer to a revenue-neutral property tax rate. A taxing issue County Manager Wanda Greene’s proposed budget for next fiscal year is $419,289,728, […]

Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer. Photo by Max Cooper

Mayor Manheimer, Asheville citizens call for fair redistrict­ing

Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer held a press conference Thursday, May 11, to highlight House Bill 200, which seeks to end gerrymandering on a statewide level. Asheville residents affiliated with Common Cause NC, a nonprofit organization based out of Raleigh, also spoke against gerrymandering within congressional districts and the need to support the proposed legislation.

BEST AND BRIGHTEST: Participants in the City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy were recognized at the May 9 meeting of City Council. Photo by Virginia Daffron

Asheville Council closes in on city budget

At its May 9 meeting, Asheville City Council grappled with the challenge of creating a city budget in a time of plenty. “Oddly,” said Mayor Esther Manheimer, this year’s budgeting process has been more difficult than during the recession. Council asked City Manager Gary Jackson to tweak his proposal to achieve a property tax rate that reflects a revenue-neutral rate plus 3.5 cents to pay for interest on the city’s $74 million bond program.

"This was a personal satisfaction to know that you were the owner of your things," Guerra, a member of the Emma community said. Photo by Kari Barrows

Housing co-ops a potential affordable housing solution

The second in a three-part series on innovative models for promoting affordable homeownership sponsored by the city of Asheville focused on housing cooperatives. The May 4 education and information event provided perspectives from national experts as well as representatives of the Dulce Lomita Mobile Home Cooperative in Asheville.

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City budget and policing on tap for May 9 session of Asheville Council

If you want to attend Asheville City Council’s May 9 meeting, arrive early. Between a response from the Police Department to a recent report on racial disparities in policing to the first presentation of the city manager’s proposed budget for the 2017-18 Fiscal Year, there’s a lot on the agenda that could be of interest to a variety of city residents and advocates.

The site of a 112-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel on Meadow Road. The Planning & Zoning Commission unanimously approved the hotel application. Graphic courtesy of the city of Asheville

P&Z approves its final big hotel

Asheville’s Planning & Zoning Commission heard the last hotel zoning application submitted under the city’s previous zoning rules, which changed on Feb. 14. The commission approved a 112-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel planned for 26 Meadow Road. Moving forward, any hotel project with more than 20 rooms will have to make its case to City Council as a conditional zoning application. The conditional zoning process gives the elected officials more discretion than P&Z’s guidelines allow.

Chuck Edwards, Republican, NC Senate District 48. Photo courtesy of Edwards

Lines in the sand: Fight brews over Asheville districts

Sen. Chuck Edwards of Hendersonville explains some of the considerations that led him to introduce a bill that would compel Asheville to institute district elections for seats on its City Council. And Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer lays out the reasons the city plans to follow a “parallel process” that may include a referendum on the issue, despite Raleigh’s insistence that the city knuckle under by Nov. 1.

TAKIN' IT TO THE STREETS: Asheville residents took to the streets of downtown on Saturday, April 29 in solidarity with the national People's Climate March. Photo by Max Hunt

In Photos: Asheville residents rally for People’s Climate March

Asheville residents turned out in scores to show solidarity with the National People’s Climate March on Saturday, April 29. The procession marched through downtown, waving banners and signs, and chanting slogans urging government leaders to recognize climate change data. The marchers, which ranged in age from small children to older residents (and a couple dogs), […]

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Asheville traffic stop data show racial inequities

Data reported to the State Bureau of Investigation by the Asheville Police Department reveal significant racial disparities in traffic stops, an attorney for the Southern Coalition of Social Justice told Asheville City Council on April 24. And even though the data are disturbing, they may not tell the full story: An analysis revealed an apparent failure to report data for 58 percent of audited traffic stops, despite a state law requires police departments to provide demographic data for all stops.

The roof of Asheville City Hall.

Asheville voters could choose: Council districts or status quo?

Asheville voters may face an up or down vote on the city district elections plan making its way through the N.C. General Assembly. City Council accepted the advice of City Attorney Robin Currin to hold a referendum on establishing six districts for seats on the council versus the city’s current at-large election system in November.

GET MOVING: The newest section of the French Broad River Greenway — open and ready for action. Photo by Cindy Kunst

Asheville’s newest section of greenway opens next to New Belgium Brewery

The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newest section of the French Broad River Greenway was held Friday, April 21, at the foot of the New Belgium brewery as part of the city of Asheville’s Earth Week Celebration. Representatives from the many public and private partnerships that had a role in the development of this section, called […]

QUALITY CONTROL: Two pollutants make up the bulk of the air quality monitoring oversight by the NC Department of Environmental Quality: ozone and fine particulates (PM2.5). From Bryson City to Lenoir, there are 11 ozone monitoring sites and five sites for PM2.5. The WNC Air Quality Agency conducts monitoring operations in Buncombe County, which also includes an urban air toxics monitor at A-B Tech. New this year is a sulfur dioxide monitor near the Duke Energy Progress plant in Skyland. Image from  Google, mapped by NCDEQ

Air apparent: monitoring air quality in the mountains

We all have to breathe to live, and the good news is that here in Western North Carolina, the quality of the air we all share is much better than it was just a few years ago. Across North Carolina, government employees are monitoring air quality and the associated health risks to make sure they stay within specified legal parameters. Meanwhile, citizen volunteers are also collecting data and working to make more information available to the public.