You know it’s more than just the money we‘re talking about. It’s about making sure we have a healthy local economy. It’s about making sure Buncombe County is a place where business can prosper and people can afford to live. It’s about making sure the leadership in our community is responsive to our needs and our priorities. And, it’s about making sure our college continues to reflect the values of our community.
None of these things are guaranteed. And this little quarter-cent, that they say we’ll never miss, adds up to much more than the $140 million our community leaders say it costs to buy the best college in the nation. This much construction will require a serious increase in ongoing operational funding from the county. There are less costly ways to address the realistic space needs of our college.
Our local economy has been treading water through the worst recession we have ever seen; and, that little quarter-cent is another stone around the necks of business and people who live or visit here. This little tax will be another unnecessary drag on our struggling local economy.
Now, the faculty and staff at A-B Tech are the best in the business at preparing people for jobs, but local unemployment is more than double what it used to be. In this economy, we need to focus first on attracting more opportunities for employment. Let’s don’t make placement of our graduates even more difficult than it already is.
A-B Tech, “the community’s college,” has traditionally balanced training programs with local employment needs; it appears the college’s focus has become pursuit of revenue growth and change to the point of identity loss. Let’s don’t let ambitious leadership at our college draw us into supporting more costly campus expansion than reasonable local taxes can support in the long run.
Let’s support our community leaders and the leadership at A-B Tech, but let’s be firm in our expectation that they propose responsible and transparent growth plans that clearly assess economic impact. We can revisit the sales-tax issue a few years from now after our economic house is in order. For now, I’m going to have to vote “no.”
— Richard Mauney