Manheimer updates CIBO members on the state of the city

CORE SERVICES: Mayor Esther Manheimer told CIBO members that City Council’s primary focus over the past three years has been restoring core services and the sense of stability that was lost during the pandemic. Photo by Chase Davis

At the Oct. 6 Council of Independent Business Owners meeting, Mayor Esther Manheimer presented updates on a number of issues, including the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, homelessness initiatives and the proposed vision for Pack Square Plaza. Despite the wide range of topics, CIBO members appeared most interested in discussing public safety.

Manheimer said that City Council’s primary focus over the past three years has been restoring core services and the sense of stability that was lost during the pandemic.

“COVID was the most disruptive thing that cities in America have ever experienced. It had a devastating effect on cities, and to right that shift has really been a tremendous struggle,” Manheimer said. “The main issue that Council has been discussing is the restoration of services and making sure that safety, cleanliness and other basic services are being provided to the city.”

Manheimer highlighted the construction of a new public safety station on Broadway, set to include a fire station, a police substation, the relocated Emergency Operations Center and a small community conference room. Additionally, she noted, the City of Asheville is collaborating with the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office to implement a real-time criminal intelligence camera system across the city.

Despite these initiatives, several members of CIBO suggested that not enough was being done to address rising crime and safety concerns, particularly in the downtown area. Members also called for higher wages for officers.

Manheimer acknowledged that APD salaries are not competitive compared with the rest of the state. But in her earlier presentation to the group, the mayor noted officers did receive a 6% pay rate increase as part of the 2022-23 budget. Additional raises, Manheimer said in response to the group’s feedback, would put a strain on the city’s current budget.

“I agree, we do need to do more,” Manheimer said. “Per my last conversation with Chief David Zack, we are currently looking at increasing the pay for lateral hires. However, it is a challenging issue, and we already had to bend the fund balance to make the budget work this year. That’s not a great situation.”

Manheimer also provided an update on the Interstate 26 Connector project, as well as the bike lanes on College Street and Patton Avenue. Manheimer noted these two projects provide a unique opportunity to create a new gateway into downtown that is both “pedestrian friendly and climate conscious.” However, several members of CIBO stated that the projects should be put on the back burner until safety issues downtown are addressed.

Manheimer responded, noting her belief that the project would indirectly help public safety, as it would further activate the downtown area.

“Bike lanes and a robust downtown are not independent from public safety,” Manheimer said. “If you activate your city, if you get people out of their cars, walking around and hanging out, you create a safer environment. More eyes on the street is a more safe city.”

The Asheville City Council approved the project at its Oct. 10 meeting in a 4-3 vote, with Council members Antanette Mosley, Sheneika Smith and Vice Mayor Sandra Kilgore opposed.

In other news

In addition to Manheimer’s State of the City report, CIBO members also heard an update from Tristan Winkler, director of the French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization. The federally mandated organization was created in 1962 in response to the region’s growth. The MPO currently serves over 414,000 people across 21 municipalities, including the City of Asheville as well as Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Madison counties.

During his presentation, Winkler noted a significant decrease in traffic delays throughout the region compared with previous years. He contributed this to a surge in telecommuting throughout the region, as well as an overall shift away from traveling during rush hours.

Additionally, Winkler noted that the MPO is assessing what transportation projects are needed in the future, based on trends and public input.

“Several capacity projects are being considered along I-26, as well as several safety projects along our five-lane roads such as Hendersonville Road and Tunnel Road,” Winkler said. “We are also looking into the possibility of developing a passenger rail throughout the region.”

Winkler noted that the MPO is seeking public comment on the proposed projects. Residents can share their opinion at Additionally, the organization plans to host community input sessions over the coming months.


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About Chase Davis
Chase Davis is an Asheville-based reporter working for Mountain Xpress. He was born and raised in Georgia and holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from LaGrange College. Follow me @ChaseDavis0913

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17 thoughts on “Manheimer updates CIBO members on the state of the city

  1. Taxpayer

    There is no better liar and gaslighter in the city than Esther. Bike lanes help crime by reactivating town but sorry, no more money for police? No one threw a pie or at least an egg at her? She’s a terrible mayor. OMG!

    • Julie P.

      You are right
      Bike lanes will bring more congestion
      More people on the street may lead to more crime.

  2. Mike Rains

    “Manheimer highlighted the construction of a new public safety station on Broadway, set to include a fire station, a police substation, the relocated Emergency Operations Center and a small community conference room.”

    This overpriced project was approved years ago before crime went ballistic in the city. Besides, it’s just a building. So I think a little bit of “grasping at straws” here by the Mayor.

    On APD salaries, the Mayor is telling us that increased salaries are not going to happen; at least not with her spending priorities. Reducing the $1M/year Asheville elected to spend on Memorial Stadium and the Tourists would have been a good start.

    Why didn’t the Mayor drive a fair bargain with County leaders who only contributed $250K/year even though Tourist attendance has been reported as roughly 1/2 city, 1/2 county. Had we split that support equally, 1/2 of the total $1.25M (city+county combined) would have been $625K each, which would have been almost $400K/year less for Asheville to pay and a good start for APD salary support.

    And by the way Asheville taxpayers, the $250K/year that Buncombe County leaders “contributed”……~40% of that comes from YOU (through your county ad valorem property taxes)! So really, county taxpayers only contributed about $150K/year and Asheville taxpayers contributed $1.1M/year; this for a family fiendly venue (worth keeping I agree) that is equally used between county and city residents.

    • JT4784

      You aren’t paying attention to facts that contradict your bias. Cops are getting a 6% raise. That’s more than most people are getting.

      • Mike Rains

        All city employees received a 5% wage increase. APD got an additional 1%, Big deal!
        It is a dangerous and demanding job. It deserves more than most average city jobs that don’t involve dealing with some really nasty stuff in our society as well as dangerous people with guns and willing to use them.

        As far as other people not receiving 6% raises, I can’t comment on that. LIkely depends on what business they are in. Employees in nice-to-have business probably aren’t doing too well in the current inflation, but something society very much needs to function… police, electricity, water, etc should be receiving good increases.

        • Jt

          Let me guess. You’re a cop. Non- government employees would be thrilled with any raise, much less 6%..

  3. WNC

    Let’s be real, the leadership support of the BLM riots which was primarily an attack on police officers was the biggest factor in the drop of police.
    In many areas bussed in white liberals made up most of the crowd. The same officials who wanted to destroy the police have been begging for protection as “public officials” not to mention their personal home address.

    • JT4784

      Nonsense. People weren’t bussed in for protests. There were plenty of outraged residents of the region, the vast majority of whom committed no vandalism. That doesn’t fit your narrative, but it’s the truth.

      • WNC

        The vast majority told the police no thanks and all around the country there now saying “just kidding”
        We all know of the physical destruction around the country.
        Yes paid instigators we’re bussed many places.

          • WNC

            Facts don’t fit your narrative Jt. The most liberal politicians who publicly said defund the police are falling backwards all over themselves recanting their ignorance,
            Just like they’re removing the sanitary city signs. Some people live and learn, some not so much.

  4. indy499

    Covid the best thing to happen to our clueless mayor. Going to milk that for years. Only thing she’s got going is she isn’t Roney, similar to Biden having Trump as a rival.

  5. MH

    Good condensed article. Thank you for this reporting.

    The substation on Broadway is awesome! Also, let’s hope the City finds a way to increase entry-level salaries for the APD. Currently they are just under $46,000. Come on COA! Bump them up to $50,000. That would go a LONG way in attracting, recruiting and retaining a larger police force. (Just $4,200 per new officer is not that money.) They are SO overworked and over burdened.

    Go team Asheville!

  6. Levi

    Everyone on the City Council, including the mayor and the City Manager, should do a ride along with the APD. I can’t believe it hasn’t been required or at least demanded by the public.

    • Mike Rains

      I agree with your suggestion. I believe Maggie Ullman is one Councilmember who has done this.

      It’s an eye opener.

    • Robert McGee

      Agreed! Required or not, any of them who haven’t yet asked permission to do a ride-along, should be embarrassed (and voted out). This goes for all cities, not just ours.

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