Letter: Why should city residents pay extra taxes?

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Buncombe County Tax Department officials have told me that residents of Asheville pay the same rate of tax on residential property to Buncombe County as those in unincorporated parts of the county pay.

Asheville has its own law enforcement, schools, fire and rescue, 911 services, building inspectors, parks and recreation department, and animal services and pays to help support A-B Technical Community College. Why should city residents pay to support our own services and then pay again to support the same services in Buncombe County, which we do not and cannot receive?

We in the city receive some services from Buncombe County, such as the library system, restaurant inspections and county health department, which are logical for city residents to contribute to. Paying taxes to the county for services which it does not provide city residents and paying twice for some of them is outrageous.

Why are city residents burdened with these extra taxes?

— Ralph Lambert

Editor’s note: Asheville City Council and the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners voted last month to merge 911 services.


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9 thoughts on “Letter: Why should city residents pay extra taxes?

  1. Mike R.

    A good question but if you dig into the details you will find that a majority (but not all) of the services benefit Asheville. For example, the Sheriff Department manages the jail; APD depends on that to handle the criminals it arrests. However, some portion of the Sheriff’s budget involves responding to emergency calls in the county; something we have covered within the city limits.

    A large portion of all county budgets involves social services. That is provided to all residents of the county including within the city limits.

    Regarding the school system, the county provides some school funds back to Asheville for its schools; however, Asheville citizens are taxed extra because the county amount is not enough. And that is because the Asheville School System has its own separate administration/managerial setup; a significant overhead for any school system regardless of size.

    A question we MIGHT ask ourselves is why don’t we have just one government for the entire county and do away with multiple redundancies of administration, election process, school system duplication, building maintenance, HR overhead, etc. The county/city system of NC has outgrown its design and usefulness in many of the highly urbanized counties. Charlotte and Mecklenburg county are a perfect example and while any function have been merged, they still continue to have two separate governments, elected officieals, etc. Any yet, Charlotte is almost the entire county now!

    Asheville is much less of the county, area wise and population is 90K versus 280K (don’t hold me to that) in the county. Still, in terms of the efficiency of this approach, we’d be much better off just being governed by one county-wide government. Representation could be designed fairly based on population density.

    Some day soon, we will need to move in this direction to reduce costs. A good first step would be consolidation of the Asheville City Schools into Buncombe County Schools for ONE school system. Most other counties across the state have long adopted that model. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of paying an extra $600 to support ASC’s when an equally effective merge with the county can be had.

    • eastside_guy

      Very good points Mike. There are city residents who aren’t covered by the asheville city school system, so it makes sense to pay taxes to the county for schools. The asheville city school system is redundant at this point and should really be merged into BCSS. A better question is why are we paying property tax to the city. Basically you get garbage, recycling service and a barely functioning police force for your money.

      • Taxpayer

        All great points mentioned. And the city spending money faster than it can collect it should be added. With the number of bad decisions being made by city council and mayor, I think we should merge with the county. Could we if the citizens so desire?

    • indy499

      I think you are missing the key point. The question is why does the county not either provide police service in the city (as they do for unincorporated county residents) or rebate county dollars to the city for police services they don’t provide?

      • eastside_guy

        Because the county does provide services to the entire county. Technically the sheriff has jurisdiction in the city. As a taxpayer you pay for a lot of things you don’t use or receive services for. Just how it goes

        • indy499

          Not really. The issue isn’t whether one pays for services one doesn’t use. That happens everywhere. The question is why does the city provide services without reimbursement that the county provides to unincorprated county residents. Yet Asheville residents pay the same county taxes.

          • eastside_guy

            are you sure the city doesn’t get money from the county?

          • Mike R.

            My guess is that their (County Sheriff) budget does not include policing of Asheville; it includes policing of the county outside of Asheville and operation of the jail. In unusual cases when services are provide by the county for the city or vice-versa, there is a charging system that exists between the two for payment of those services.

            If you’re still not convinced or just interested, email the appropriate city/county staff and ask for an answer. That is an appropriate citizen question that they will answer.

  2. Voirdire

    Get real here. You live in Asheville and Asheville is in Buncombe County. This is the way it is and will always be. I’m sure you all did it differently up there in New Jersey or wherever. It’s the price of living in paradise, lol. Take it or leave it.. sorry to be so frank, but again, that’s the deal here. Lucky you (…try to keep that in mind ;)

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