The net proposed operating budget stands at $190.31 million, a 5.4% increase over last year’s adopted budget. Campbell said the spending plan aligned with the priorities outlined by Council members in March during their annual retreat, which focused on transit and affordable housing.
Activists with the Health Equity Coalition are organizing a Friday, May 24, community forum to explore how the $1.5 billion Dogwood Health Trust, created from the sale of Mission Health, offers the prospect of “life-changing” investments in the wellbeing of residents in 18 Western North Carolina counties. Also, it’s time to strive to drive less in the runup to the Strive Beyond Summit at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in Mills River on Friday, May 31, from 3-5 p.m.
Under the new contract, according to a presentation by county Solid Waste Director Dane Pedersen available before the meeting, all customers would receive trash and recycling containers from Waste Pro as part of a $19.21 monthly service fee. Currently, customers pay a $16.08 base fee and can rent containers for an optional $3.80 per month.
Around 100 people attended Asheville City Council’s nearly five-hour meeting on March 14, during which 27 speakers declared both resistance and support for the conversion of the Flatiron Building into a hotel.
Minneapolis-based CliftonLarsonAllen conducted roughly 2,700 hours of work — over three times its original estimate of 885 hours — from July 1 through May 14, when CLA principal Bill Early presented the results to the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners.
Asheville City Manager Debra Campbell said both the city and the private sector need to pitch in to make progress on the issue. “What that says to me is collectively, not individually, we gotta work on this. We need tons of resources to address this issue,” she said.
After an unexpected delay on April 23, Council members will have the final say on the rezoning of the historic structure at their regular meeting on Tuesday, May 14.
On the social media site Nextdoor, multiple residents say they haven’t received utility bills before getting the associated delinquent notice. The city, which has collected over $820,000 in late fees every fiscal year since at least 2015-16, says there are no plans to change billing systems or research improvements to the current approach.
From now through the end of the year, 465 new rooms are expected to join the nearly 8,000 already operating in Buncombe County. With many more approved and under construction in 2020 and beyond, just keeping track of what is being built where and by whom is no small challenge.
While Buncombe County’s current proposed budget includes nearly $3.6 million in new education funding, total requests from local systems on May 7 came to roughly $8.16 million. That figure includes $1.06 million more for A-B Tech, $2.09 million for Asheville City Schools and $5.01 million in increased funding for Buncombe County Schools.
Speaking at the board’s April 30 budget work session, Chair Brownie Newman emphasized that education officials shouldn’t count on “automatic” growth of county support. “I think they should have to justify all of it,” he said.
Buncombe’s current policy, said County Manager Avril Pinder, requires a fund balance of at least 15%, or $47.35 million. However, the projected fiscal 2020 budget would put the balance at 14.76%, and if a $5.25 million sale of county property on Ferry Road is delayed or falls through, the balance could drop to as little as 13.09%.
The fund, which has grown to over $40,000 through gifts and investments, purchases replacements for downtown trees that are old, diseased or removed for redevelopment. Not all of the trees on Main Street are gifts from the Sherman Fund, but the many that are likely played a role in Hendersonville’s 2018 designation as North Carolina Tree City of the Year by the N.C. Forest Service.
Community members took the opportunity to discuss the issues surrounding the tourism industry in Asheville and hear a presentation from the WNC Green Party about restructuring of hotel occupancy taxes during an April 24 “Re-Imagine the TDA” public meeting.
The total cost of those buses, according to a city staff report, would be approximately $1.5 million, of which Asheville would contribute $225,000 in matching funds. Some members of the public commented that the switch from battery-electric to hybrid buses represented a step backward in the city’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
Asheville City Council will decide the fate of the historic Flatiron Building during the April 23 meeting.
Eric Bradford, director of operations at local environmental nonprofit Asheville GreenWorks, calls China’s restriction of its recyclables market a wake-up call for domestic recyclers. “We were basically paying China to be our landfill for these ‘recyclables,’ and we felt good about it,” he says.
The city of Asheville has taken initial steps toward rezoning real estate in four places around town in hopes of encouraging new development that would offer a denser mix of housing, shops and office space, similar to Biltmore Park Town Square or Reynolds Village in Woodfin. “Asheville wants to move in a direction that is more urban, that is more walkable, that has a greater mix of uses,” says city planner Vaidila Satvika.
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners got its first look at the county’s fiscal year 2020 budget at a noon meeting originally announced to review the agenda for the board’s 5 p.m. regular meeting on April 16.
Rep. Chuck McGrady, a Henderson County Republican, on April 16 introduced a bill in the state House to require the Metropolitan Sewerage District of Buncombe County to add Fletcher, Mills River and some unincorporated areas of northern Henderson County to its service district if a state board approves. The following day, the Buncombe MSD board voted to oppose the bill.