As in previous years, members of the public both applauded the city for funding long-promised initiatives, such as the 2018 Transit Master Plan and increases to firefighter pay, and voiced concern over how other taxpayer money would be spent.
Asheville City Council and the community will participate in city business face to face for the first time since April 2020. The meeting will take place in the Banquet Hall at Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville at 5 p.m.
Some additional revenue will be needed to fund a growing list of priorities for the 2021-22 annual operating budget, city staffers suggested at an April 27 Asheville City Council budget work session.
Asheville has issued removal orders for camps at Martin Luther King Jr. Park, Aston Park, along Cherry and Hill streets and at Riverbend Park near the Walmart Supercenter on Bleachery Boulevard in East Asheville.
“Whether you’re a private entity or are providing a public service, a 30-35% daily loss of staff is going to have a major impact on operations,” says Asheville Police Chief David Zack. “I think we’d be hard pressed to find another agency who is dealing with as many big challenges as we are.”
As the sometimes contentious discussions unfolded, members grappled with ambitious priorities for the upcoming year, and, perhaps more importantly, what their working relationships would look like for the next 18 months.
In a change from previous City Council practice, and in opposition to advice provided by a UNC School of Government expert on open meetings, Asheville City Council plans to go ahead with a closed-door meeting devoted to “strengthening personal relationships, teamwork and communication required to do meaningful work together” on Wednesday, March 31.
Asheville has contracted with consultants Shemekka Ebony and Christine Edwards to host six “equity-focused budget engagement” sessions for community members. The pair previously facilitated the city’s “Reimagining Public Safety” engagement efforts in the fall.
Two proposals are up for consideration. One outlines a request for a fully elected school board; the other sets up a hybrid model in which Council would appoint two members and allow ACS district residents to elect the other three.
For months, residents have pressured elected leaders to fulfill their commitment to reparations for Asheville’s Black community. Plans are now in the works to form a joint city and county Reparations Commission by July, says Asheville City Manager Debra Campbell.
The new regulations allow hotels with 115 rooms or fewer to avoid a Council vote if they meet a series of design requirements, are located in a newly approved overlay district and contribute to equity-related public benefits.
Hoteliers and hotel opponents alike have waited since September 2019 for Asheville City Council to reach a decision about future lodging development within city limits. On Tuesday, Feb. 23, the countdown clock finally hits zero.
“If it was truly perceived as an emergency, then I think we would be doing more and talking about it more,” says Asheville City Council member Kim Roney, who was elected in November on a platform that included a local Green New Deal and rapid renewable energy deployment.
Upcoming projects include initial steps to expand Deaverview Apartments into a “purpose-built” community and an 80-unit apartment complex for people experiencing chronic homelessness.
As Asheville takes steps to reckon with its long history of systemic racism and economic inequity, local business owners are wondering what impacts the city’s ambitious initiatives will have on them.
The Asheville Police Department has followed through with a number of promises Chief David Zack made in June. But the one demand residents and activists repeatedly called for — that the city divest from the APD and invest resources in Asheville’s Black community — has not been heard, some community members say.
As newly elected Asheville City Council members Sandra Kilgore, Sage Turner and Kim Roney embark on a new chapter of civic leadership following a close race, they inherit controversial priorities from the outgoing Council that will likely dominate the first few months of their term.
Now in its fifth week, the PODS program aims to address the opportunity gap between Black and white students in the Asheville City Schools. Students meet in small groups to receive support with online learning; PODS staff act as a liaison between ACS teachers and students to engage and offer additional enrichment for kids who are struggling academically.
Kimberlee Archie, the city’s first equity and inclusion manager, and Libby Kyles, CEO of the YWCA of Asheville, have left high-profile jobs with a mission of improving racial equity in the city within a month of each other.
Asheville City Council members voted 5-2 to adopt a budget amendment that will cut APD funding by $770,000, a roughly 2.5% drop from the $30.1 million allocation originally proposed by City Manager Debra Campbell in May.
At its meeting of Tuesday, Sept. 22, Asheville City Council will vote on a budget amendment that would fund the APD at roughly $29.3 million, a reduction of $770,000 from a previous proposal. Many activist groups, including Black AVL Demands, have called for a 50% reduction to the APD and reinvestment in community services.