Funded by a $60,000 grant from Duke Energy’s Water Resources Fund and developed by city staff in conjunction with Asheville GreenWorks and RiverLink, the plan lays out environmental and aesthetic projects such as stormwater control, invasive species removal, wildlife habitat construction and an ecological mural.
Politicos of all stripes have begun gearing up for a 2020 election that looks to be a broad moment of opportunity. In Asheville, ballots will include offices from president on down to City Council. Experienced campaign runners and elected officials are teaming up to try to recruit new candidates or train and encourage those already considering a run.
Commissioners voted 4-3 to approve a plan that dedicates $3.13 million in Article 46 tax revenues in fiscal year 2020 for capital expenses at the college. The money would keep coming in each of the next seven years, increasing 5.5 percent annually to account for anticipated increases in construction costs. The county would also cap transfers from Article 46 tax revenue to the general fund at $5 million and would limit the use of that money to operations at A-B Tech.
The A-B Tech Board of Trustees accepted a compromise earlier this month that would enable the college to address a $25 million maintenance backlog using yearly payments from revenue generated by a quarter-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2011. Commissioners will consider the proposal during their meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 19.
Later this month, the N.C. Forest Service will help the city of Asheville carry out a series of controlled burns on at least 95 acres around the North Fork and Bee Tree Reservoirs, thereby reducing the risk of more severe fires in a watershed that serves more than 125,000 area residents.
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners doled out a $2.2 million loan for an affordable housing complex in Swannanoa and over $200,000 in economic development incentives at its Feb. 5 meeting. The city of Asheville held two public sessions seeking input on the selection of a new police chief. Residents can also weigh in via an online survey through March 1.
Even accounting for the fossil fuels needed to generate the electricity they will use, said Council member Julie Mayfield, each vehicle will produce 54 fewer tons of annual carbon emissions than one of Asheville’s current buses. Once all five buses hit the streets, the total emissions savings of 270 tons will make up a third of the city’s annual carbon reduction target.
The I-26 Connector project, an almost $1 billion overhaul of the highway system in and around Asheville, is one of 37 Division 13 projects that have been changed in a new draft State Transportation Improvement Program for 2020-29. The draft STIP identifies state transportation projects that will receive funding over a 10-year timeframe.
Four items on Council’s consent agenda aimed to improve how Asheville residents move about the city — and, thanks to a resolution supporting a statewide initiative for passenger rail in Western North Carolina, potentially across the country. The N.C. General Assembly could provide $890,000 to fund a bus connection between Asheville and Amtrak’s terminal in Salisbury.
City Manager Debra Campbell called the Feb. 12 capital budget briefing “food for thought” as she encouraged Council members to focus and prioritize their objectives. “This is why we’re presenting this information,” she said. “We’ve got some tough decisions that we need to make over the next several years.”
The Down Payment Assistance Policy could provide $1.4 million, in no-interest loans of up to $40,000 each, toward mortgages on single-family residences within Asheville city limits. The policy is meant to promote homeownership opportunities among “moderate- and lower-income families” making up to 120 percent of the area median income.
The A-B Tech Board of Trustees and Buncombe County are in the early stages of a compromise plan for the use of sales tax revenue for maintenance, capital and operating costs at the college.
Jim Tolbert of the Citizen’s Climate Lobby encouraged members of the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority to support the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, a bill that aims to reduce carbon emissions through a tax on fossil fuel companies.
“I’m shocked, and I’m disappointed,” said one commenter who identified himself as a Southside resident about the lack of attendance from his community. “If you’re not going to show up and voice your opinion, and then when something does happen, you get in a little group and then you voice your opinion, that’s not fair. That’s not right.”
At Asheville City Council’s Jan. 22 meeting, Mayor Esther Manheimer said the city would re-advertise its vacant city attorney position — after she and her colleagues unanimously approved an additional $300,000 for outside legal services. The role has been filled on an interim basis by Sabrina Rockoff since the departure of Robin Currin in September.
Joseph Wiseman, Jr., a former Buncombe County contractor implicated in a kickback scheme that has led to charges against three former county officials, has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit honest services fraud.
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to appoint Avril Pinder, the former deputy county manager for New Hanover County, to the role of county manager during a special meeting on Feb. 5. The county anticipates that her first day will be Monday, March 4.
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners will vote on the selection of a new county manager during a special meeting at 4 p.m. Feb. 5. in the third floor conference room at 200 College St. in downtown Asheville.
Plans for the Beaucatcher Greenway are on hold, and the city released a $975,000 grant awarded by the Tourism Product Development Fund of the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority to partially fund the greenway’s construction back to the TDA.
Since leaving her previous role as Charlotte’s assistant city manager to take the Asheville job in December, Campbell said, she has focused on meeting as many community stakeholders as possible. Those discussions, she explained, have led to a slate of priorities with the common theme of making the city “the best partner that we can be.”