Remember Richard Pryor in Brewster’s Millions? The pitcher for the Hackensack Bulls minor league baseball team is given $30 million dollars to spend in 30 days. Let’s imagine that Monty Brewster lived in today’s Asheville — and why not give him a seat on City Council (he was almost the mayor of New York after all). In his tuxedo, he commands a certain kind of respect Except for the fact that he’d be a few million short of Asheville’s estimated $5.9 million deficit, who knows what he’d do with the money. Tourists versus the Braves exhibition game?
Fortunately, the several readers who responded to our own Brewster-like challenge (though with no promise of an exponential payoff) offered more civic-minded solutions that involve neither John Candy nor the NY Yankees.
As with Brewster’s Millions, there’s a lot more to the story of Asheville’s current budget dilemma — although the story is probably not nearly as funny. Reporter David Forbes produced a produced a kind of primer in advance of City Council’s April 18 town hall meeting on the topic (the budget, not the movie). See his story at http://avl.mx/ss. What would you do to address the budget gap? Raise taxes? Cut services? Wait for Asheville’s great-uncle Rupert to bequeath the sum? — Jaye Bartell
Not just Asheville, but nearly every city in N.C. needs to lean real hard on the state to allow cities to restore their financial health by (gasp!) leveling new taxes and/or user fees. Everyone knows there is no free lunch, and to be forced into cutting social programs and much needed public services is pure insanity. Things cost money — get over it! — Treed Hugger, via mountainx.com
No more "retreats" for the city council, no more sponsorship of Bele Chere, no more washing city vehicles at private businesses. — Bishop Andrew Gentry (@gaypriest), via Twitter
Sell naming rights to the water system. Start a city-only lottery for free parking. Claim the loss of the water system on the city's tax return, bingo! Make a deal with the county to raise the Biltmore's property taxes by 800 percent, and split the profits.
Buy Internet services from Tim Moffitt, so he'll go easy on us. Rename the Asheville Tourists the Fighting McGradys, so he'll go easy on us. Change the name of the city to Hendersonville; nobody seems to want to take their stuff. See if Tennessee will take us. We can secede from North Carolina and join them. — Jeff McLarty, via Facebook
Hipster tax — Timothy de Benedetti, via Facebook
What you reveal here [in your article], David, is that the city has taken more from the water fund than was required to run the water fund.
The commingling of revenues and expenses becomes a difficult ball to unravel if/when the state takes away the water system. There will, indeed, be savings in human resources, the computer division, transportation and vehicles, machinery and repair, and many other areas.
Those savings will result in loss of staff positions and consolidating some services. They will not cover the entire "loss" to the city, but far more than the budget office predicts. It will have a negative impact as the city is forced to provide services without the water subsidies that, quite honestly, were misused to at least some extent. — John L. Haldane, via Facebook