In this week’s news in brief, read about the Sunday, Sept. 30, event that promises to help you get more engaged in shaping city government. Learn which Buncombe County teachers won top honors, and check out the initial results of Warren Wilson College’s initiative to offer all eligible incoming North Carolina students four years of tuition-free education.
The effort was sparked by the French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization, of which Asheville is a dues-paying member. Last fall, the MPO offered the city $157,500 (to be matched with $25,593 in local funds) for a corridor study of its choosing, with the goal of reducing automobile congestion and creating “an alternative to the auto-oriented cycle.”
Xpress takes a look at some of the steps elected officials and top staff have taken to guard against future corruption and what policies the Board of Commissioners plans to address in the immediate future.
Although Chicago-based 21CP Solutions finished its report on Asheville’s response to a police beating scandal in August, the city isn’t done hiring consultants to assess its policing approach. That’s one of the key takeaways from interim City Manager Cathy Ball’s memo discussing action items from the report, to be presented at Asheville City Council’s upcoming regular meeting.
Firestorm Books & Coffee and The Steady Collective announced that they had formally appealed their notices of violation on Sept. 17. The appeals will likely be considered at the next meeting of the city’s Board of Adjustment, which takes place on Monday, Oct. 22. If the board rejects the appeals, the groups face civil penalties of $100 for every day they remain out of zoning compliance.
A handful of former Buncombe County employees had a message for commissioners during their regular meeting on Sept. 18: “Please consider the retirees.”
Interim County Manager George Wood said in a Sept. 11 memo to commissioners that, taking into account increases in automatic employee raises, a projected bump in health insurance claims and the potential for larger funding requests from local school systems, the county could see an approximately $1.7 million deficit in FY 2020.
In a process not open to the public, Council has selected a committee of “key community leaders” to help review candidates for the most powerful unelected official in city government. City spokesperson Polly McDaniel said the panel will provide “input and perspective on a list of candidates,” adding that members “will serve in an advisory role.”
County department heads pointed to an organizational culture of cliques and anxiety at a meeting with Buncombe County commissioners on Sept. 4.
The Asheville forum kicks off the IEI’s broader ReCONNECT NC initiative. Over the next three years, a series of six forums in four different cities will focus on the overarching theme of reconnection. Maggie Woods, policy and program manager at IEI, says people across the state are feeling out-of-touch and that this sense of detachment needs to be addressed at length.
The Land Use Incentive Grant point maximum will increase from 140 to 200, with every 10 points worth a rebate of one year of city property taxes above a property’s pre-development total. But developers will also face stricter conditions when applying for LUIG money: The minimum period for which a project must guarantee affordable housing will increase from 15 to 20 years.
At Asheville City Council’s upcoming regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 11, officials will consider a resolution updating council strategic priorities for the 2018-19 fiscal year.
Beginning Aug. 28 and continuing through Tuesday, Dec. 11, a series of monthly meetings will explain to City Council members and the public how Asheville allocates over $180 million to provide a range of services. The first session set the general context for the budget through a discussion of community demographics and major city revenue streams.
Thanks to funding approved by the the Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, Sept. 4, the system will soon have six additional SROs in its elementary schools — an expansion that carries an estimated recurring cost of more than $400,000 per year.
Commissioners will vote Tuesday, Sept. 4, whether to commit to a forensic audit of Buncombe County finances.