Letter: Raise property taxes to fight climate change, improve transit

Graphic by Lori Deaton

The Sierra Club and other environmental groups worked hard to get the city of Asheville to adopt a 100% renewable energy goal back in 2018. The city has developed plans to expand bus service hours, frequency of service and routes. We are losing our tree canopy and need a plan to rectify that. Addressing these issues has broad community support, and developing these plans was a great first step. But now it is time to begin implementing those goals. That takes funding.

We can’t afford to keep waiting to start doing our part to fight climate change. The city has identified $1.5 million in energy conservation and renewable energy projects that can begin as soon as funding is available. Workers in the service sector have no way of getting home on the bus after work because bus service currently stops before they get off of work.

Unfortunately, the city’s options are very limited in how it can raise funds. Funding options such as a quarter-cent sales tax would require a countywide vote, which will be difficult to pass. Other options such as a food and beverage tax or reallocating money from the hotel and motel occupancy tax require support from the Republican-controlled General Assembly in Raleigh, which have been unsuccessful. The city can’t issue new bonds until 2022 at the earliest.

The only viable option for the next few years is a property tax increase. The Sierra Club supports the proposed 3 cents per $100 property tax increase to fund these badly needed initiatives. The city can pass the property tax this year, and we can start tackling these issues. We can’t afford to keep waiting.

— Judy Mattox
Chair, WNC Sierra Club


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9 thoughts on “Letter: Raise property taxes to fight climate change, improve transit

  1. Cant Paymore

    Why is there no contact email info on the Sierra Club of WNC’s website?
    When will administrators in Asheville, Buncombe County, and North Carolina realize that the solutions they seek aren’t on the hook at the end of the taxation fishing line?
    Let’s reverse those increasing taxes and maybe consider a tax incentive plan that might reduce taxes and pollution at the same time. Or maybe the Sierra Club members ought to donate their club fees and other monetary and property assets to open an account for Asheville’s New Tree Canopy. Where is the Sierra Club as trees and other items are torn down to put up new hotels?
    I oppose this flawed plan to further increase our tax burden. I find it appalling that Ms. Mattox and MountainX are both thinking that we ought to be separated from MORE of our hard-earned income for their preferred interests.

  2. Curious

    The elderly, on fixed incomes, see the value of their homes rise because of rising real estate prices, but they see no corresponding rise in their pension/social security incomes. Property taxes have risen enough, without further increases. Can the Sierra Club address this issue?

  3. Justin Lynn Reid

    I’m an ecosocialist committed to move 100% of energy useage off of fossil fuels and non-renewables. However blindly raising property taxes on everyone is not the solution and is a simplistic broad brush approach to a way larger problem. Look at what happened with the Yellow Vest movement in France when Emmanuel Macron imposed a gasoline tax on the working class that was supposedly aimed at mitigating global warming. In Asheville we’re one of the most overpoliced cities in the state, have city managers making hundreds of thousands of dollars without guaranteeing their own employees a living wage of $15 an hour or more, have city governance that gives irrational tax breaks to recession-vulnerable tourist businesses, and have a TDA that empowers rich hoteliers to become oligarchs by essentially giving them de facto control over the funds raised by the Hotel Occupancy Tax. Now I am sure that we will need to raise revenue somewhere or even have a bond referendum for some of the more ambitious plans, but simply raising property taxes while turning a blind eye to the funds that we currently have is shortsighted at best & vulnerable to corruption at worst. Trust in Buncombe County government and Asheville City government is at an all time low due to the Wanda Greene scandal as well as the fight over the new Flatiron Hotel, so not many people are going to believe that simply raising taxes will enable good-faith city policy to be enacted. The only way to move forward with abolishing fossil fuels is to empower both the less fortunate and the working class to help build a clean energy future via legislation such as the Green New Deal that heavily invests in public works, research and development, as well as worker rights that financially protect those that are displaced by such a large scale change. Examples of this kind of worker protection include pension guarantees, wage guarantees for up to five years, and investment in job placement & training services as well as tax incentives for businesses to hire displaced workers. Neoliberal solutions such as blind tax increases and cap and trade do not work to address the climate crisis and sure they may be able to finance new climate-oriented businesses, but do nothing to stop how much CO2 is released into the atmosphere or how that affects Earth systems. The mainstream environmentalist movement needs to understand that workplace justice is intricately intertwined with environmental justice & you can’t have one without the other. The age of market solutions is over and the era of human & natural rights has only just begun.

    • indy499

      Paragraphs could be your new friend. You might actually have something worth reading if one could plow through it.

  4. Taxed enough

    How about we cut spending in other areas?
    Increased property taxes = less affordable housing.
    This is very short sighted.

  5. former Member

    I used to be a member of the Sierra Club. I quit because of the amount of physical junk mail they sent out. Even after I asked for it to be stopped I would get stickers, letters, return address stickers, more paper letters. Not very environmental.

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