Virginia Daffron’s article in the [Oct 19] Mountain Xpress [“Go or No Go: Asheville Leaders and Organizations Weigh In on Bond Choice”] was well done, factual, fair and balanced, and therefore, refreshing.
There are many supporters of this bond, but as a Realtor representing real estate in this community, it stands to reason that if you are selling or buying a home, it’s in the best interest of sellers and buyers alike to know the community is willing to maintain our assets and infrastructure.
Is there a sound alternative? Perhaps it could be delayed and neglected for what some might claim to be sound reasons, but ultimately assets, infrastructure and development have to keep pace with growth. Growth in Asheville is a relatively new phenomenon to many of us. It requires an approach perhaps different than some of our residents are willing to consider. If you disagree, what are the alternatives short of doing nothing?
Don’t misunderstand or misinterpret this. Debt can be a killer. [An accompanying Xpress] article did a masterful job explaining how crushing debt severely crippled our town for decades. However, it can be also an instrument of sound financial planning.
In this case, based on where the city finds itself financially and considering what the future holds for the growth of Asheville, it makes sense to do in now. On the other hand, if there are dark clouds forming, such as no growth, shortage of good-paying jobs, global political turmoil, a new administration with ideas and policies unknown and more, they create no shortage of the things to worry about or to work on.
However, all of these issues, albeit worthy to be concerned about, affect all of us. If something of a catastrophe should befall us, we would all in the same boat ― bond or no bond. With this said, are there dark omens worthy of clouding this issue to a degree of not offering the citizens a chance to vote at this time? If not now, when? If not by us, who?
With the support for this bond also brings the responsibility to hold our elected officials, present and future, accountable to carry out their duties with credibility, transparency and honesty. If we thought that we are being harmed by the system, we would be the first to raise an army against such behavior. Moreover, if this were to happen, we suspect Asheville could never get a future bond approved.
On the other hand, there needs to be flexibility given to those in control to change priorities but only with the vote of the elected officials on those recommendations from staff and with public input, not just automatically change priorities without open debate. Elected officials are our representatives. They will be held responsible.
Workforce housing has needed and will always require some kind of subsidy if we expect to make any meaningful headway. Whether or not the fantasies of the past worked or didn’t, we need to build affordable workforce housing in this city. It’s not a secret to anyone that we live in a high cost-of-living area with a great many low-paying jobs. We should be grateful for the work of Habitat for Humanity, Mountain Housing Opportunities and … for-profit providers of workforce housing, but can we do more?
Now, maybe for the first time in decades, we have an opportunity to do something. If you have concerns or criticisms, make them apparent to our elected officials, but let’s do this one correctly. Join us in supporting this bond.
― Mike Butrum
Government Affairs Director
Land of the Sky Association of Realtors