Starting Friday, Sept. 24, local organizations can submit projects in the following categories for grants from the federal funds: affordable housing, care for aging residents, climate change, city infrastructure, domestic violence prevention and assistance, food systems, homelessness services, public engagement, revenue losses, small business recovery and workforce development.
The office finds itself without any permanent staff and has no public process for hiring new employees. The vacancies come after a wave of resignations, as well as public criticism from former employees and elected leaders about a lack of support and accountability for equity work.
During its June 22 meeting, Asheville City Council voted 6-1 to approve the $201.67 million operating budget for fiscal year 2021-22, which includes an effective property tax increase of 2 cents per $100 in valuation and $8.7 million in new spending. Kim Roney was the sole vote against the budget, arguing that the tax increase would harm poorer residents.
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.
Eventually, the city plans to use the land to revamp Deaverview into a “purpose built community,” which, according to the Atlanta-based nonprofit steering the national model, would help local leaders create “greater racial equity, economic mobility and improved health outcomes for families and children.”
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.
“It goes without saying that the protests were unprecedented in the city and for law enforcement officers nationwide,” said Asheville Police Chief David Zack. “Never before had APD encountered a protest where the emotional intensity was directed solely at the police.”
“I’m looking forward to the day we can have a centerpiece in our city that reflects Asheville today,” said Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer. “And I’m proud to be part of the Council that will make this change.”
Following a pair of votes for different methods of picking the school board at Council’s meeting of March 9, the final say on its composition now rests with the N.C. General Assembly, which must pass legislation to enact any change.
“I’m really struggling with this process as a parent, as a councilor,” said Asheville City Council member Sage Turner, as her colleagues considered how they would appoint three members of the Asheville City Board of Education. “I’m really struggling with us not listening to teachers.”
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.
Daniel Withrow, president of the Asheville City Association of Educators, says that his organization had been preparing to make its first-ever endorsements for Asheville City Board of Education seats this year but was caught off guard when Asheville City Council voted to trim the candidate pool ahead of its posted schedule.
After months of discussion, two Council work sessions and multiple opportunities for public engagement, frustrated residents told Asheville City Council the final hotel proposals did little to advance equity or support employees working in the service industry.
“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.
Currently, the body reviews promotional criteria for Asheville police and fire staff and hears certain employee grievances. If adopted, the rules would outline a two-part test to determine if a dispute rises to the level of a CSB hearing.
Xpress contributor Mark Barrett unpacks the surprisingly static results to emerge from a politically tumultuous year in Western North Carolina.
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.
Mayor Esther Manheimer emailed Xpress the evening of Dec. 7 to say that Council was moving the Vance item from reports to new business, allowing for both public comment and a vote. She did not immediately respond to a request for clarification regarding the rationale behind that change.