Letter: We need new leadership in Asheville

Graphic by Lori Deaton

The City of Asheville and Buncombe County have sent out their annual property tax notices, so this seems like a good time to question the city’s spending priorities.

In 2016, Asheville residents voted for a $74 million bond referendum that was supposed to be allocated between parks and recreation, affordable housing and transportation. Yet despite these additional funds, in 2021, the Jones Park playground in North Asheville was demolished because the city could not afford repairs.

Since 2017, the city has received:
1. The $74 million of bond monies.
2. Record-breaking tax revenues — due in part to HCA Healthcare’s purchase of Mission.
3. Millions of federal dollars under the American Rescue Plan/COVID relief funds.
4. Millions of dollars saved since June 2020 by having a skeleton police force with approximately 42% fewer Asheville Police Department employees.
5. Increased monies from permits and fees.

Although an abundance of funds has been flowing into the city coffer, city leaders have failed to fulfill their most basic duty to maintain the city’s valuable assets and infrastructure.

Under Mayor Esther Manheimer, her City Council and City Manager Debra Campbell, taxes and fees keep going up, while basic infrastructure is being neglected and increasingly falling into disrepair. Examples of such assets and infrastructure include the following:
• Parking garages — urgent repairs are needed to the tune of $11.3 million to avoid more cost or even a structural collapse [avl.mx/d73].
• Harrah’s Cherokee Center/ Thomas Wolfe Auditorium — $1.4 million of repairs needed.
• McCormick Field is in need of $37.5 million in repairs and upgrades.
• Streets and sidewalks rival those in less developed countries.
• Schools [avl.mx/d74].
• Water system — most city residents remember the water system failure that occurred last Christmas. Has anything been done to prevent this from happening again?

It is apparent that we need new leadership in Asheville. If you are weary of the high taxes, roads filled with potholes, cracked or absent sidewalks, having a skeleton police force and subpar schools, I hope you will be inspired to run for City Council.

In the meantime, I urge you to contact Asheville City Council (AshevilleNCCouncil@ashevillenc.gov) and Debra Campbell, the city manager, (dcampbell@ashevillenc.gov) and call on them to start doing their job.

— L. Cash


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9 thoughts on “Letter: We need new leadership in Asheville

  1. Enlightened Enigma

    Total waste of time to contact these females on city council and maoyor…remember: elected democrats DESTROY cities, counties, states and countries. We have the best example of that in Amerikkka.

  2. Marc

    Fire them all! Sickening how our town has been destroyed and neglected by the hands of these leaches!

  3. blueridgeguvnor

    Before we do that, we need to fill 5 new positions for DEI, equitable tree justice, reparations analysis, and environmental impact study to local squirrel population of new stadium. Sorry, we can’t just have progress that’s unacceptable.

  4. Keith

    Wow. Discernment of real municipal government issues versus extreme Right wing talking points is quickly disappearing.

    MountainX comments are becoming the next best thing to 4chan and “t*RU*th” Social for exposing the fetid dreams of Retribution and Proud Boy score settling.

    • Angie

      If you look at the city’s budget and analyze where all the money is going, a disproportionate amount is going to the black community via grants to nonprofits, etc. and into the reparations abyss. This is apparently their way of redistributing wealth. The city sold Kenyon Lake (my daddy taught me that) a valuable piece of city land for $1. The same is true for Buncombe County which supports reparations and DEI initiatives. Regardless of one’s political affiliation, these are policies that affect everyone in the community and they should be voted on, not unilaterally decided by city Council and county commissioners. They were supposed to represent all people of the community, not just some of the people in the community.

    • Curious

      “when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned.”
      It appears that Xpress editors are not closely monitoring or moderating comments to comply with its policy. The first few comments in this thread clearly have a nasty tone (calling the members of council “leaches” [sic}). Is ” environmental impact study to local squirrel population of new stadium” considered civil discourse and constructive interchange? Could the editors try some more rigorous moderating?

      • Tracy Rose

        Xpress wants to encourage civility in the comments section, and ad hominem attacks in general are not acceptable. However, we do allow some leeway when discussing elected officials. So on the first point, calling elected officials leeches, while harsh, would seem to fall within the bounds of vigorous democratic discussion. On the second point, we don’t believe satire necessarily equates with being uncivil.

  5. Beebee

    Well, where did all the money go? Part of the $74 million bond (loan) money was supposed to get us sidewalks on Swannanoa River Road. Don’t fall for another bond referendum. Leaders make promises, but then use the money for something else. Besides, it is nothing more than a loan that must be repaid and results in increased property taxes. When people talk about affordable housing, they need to understand that when property taxes increase, that cost gets passed on to people who rent in the form of higher rents.

  6. JT4784

    As others have said, the city has been awash in money the last few years. There is zero excuse for the abject neglect of infrastructure so that money could be thrown at “social justice” . Working infrastructure benefits citizens of ALL colors. Why do voters keep electing these failed leaders?

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