Increased taxes, increased fees, cuts to transit, cuts to salaries, cuts to overtime, a four-day work week for city offices and more are all on the menu of possible ways to balance Asheville’s budget. But despite Council deliberating at length on possible remedies, a stubborn $1 million gap remains. How should the city close it?
Right now, Council members support (and seem to oppose) a variety of measures. Some (Gordon Smith, Cecil Bothwell) are willing to consider a 1 cent tax increase, some rule it right out (Bill Russell, Brownie Newman). Some (Mayor Terry Bellamy, Newman) have balked at cuts to transit proposed by staff, while others (Russell) don’t like a possible increase in business license fees. Outgoing Chief Financial Officer Ben Durant has called the city’s difficulties “structural,” meaning that they require overall change to the way the city approaches its revenues and expenses, rather than being the result of temporary trials.
In this space, I’ve suggested that the city also examine the possibility of cutting salaries for highly paid staff. I’m not necessarily endorsing such cuts, mind you, but in tight times, perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to add the option to the discussion.
As with anything financial, at the end of the day there are, broadly, two answers: Either raise revenues or cut costs. So, Asheville, what would you suggest your elected representatives do to resolve the city’s budget problems? Specific proposals, with numbers, get extra points.