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.
Community members claim Asheville City Council tried to limit opportunities for public comment during its meeting of July 28 by introducing several new policies to regulate callers.
On the social media site Nextdoor, multiple residents say they haven’t received utility bills before getting the associated delinquent notice. The city, which has collected over $820,000 in late fees every fiscal year since at least 2015-16, says there are no plans to change billing systems or research improvements to the current approach.
On March 1, city spokesperson Ashley Traynum-Carson said in a press release the needle exchange would now be considered a medical clinic after it formalized a commitment to have a medical professional on-site during operation. The process by which Asheville arrived at its new position, however, remains unclear.
Even accounting for the fossil fuels needed to generate the electricity they will use, said Council member Julie Mayfield, each vehicle will produce 54 fewer tons of annual carbon emissions than one of Asheville’s current buses. Once all five buses hit the streets, the total emissions savings of 270 tons will make up a third of the city’s annual carbon reduction target.
Four items on Council’s consent agenda aimed to improve how Asheville residents move about the city — and, thanks to a resolution supporting a statewide initiative for passenger rail in Western North Carolina, potentially across the country. The N.C. General Assembly could provide $890,000 to fund a bus connection between Asheville and Amtrak’s terminal in Salisbury.
Plans for the Beaucatcher Greenway are on hold, and the city released a $975,000 grant awarded by the Tourism Product Development Fund of the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority to partially fund the greenway’s construction back to the TDA.
In a Nov. 7 press release, interim City Manager Cathy Ball announced that Chief Hooper would be resigning effective Wednesday, Jan. 2 — as well as that Hooper had previously attempted to resign in February. As part of her resignation agreement, Hooper will be paid $118,000 and will provide 75 hours of consulting services “to assist with the transition” of police leadership.
Michael Waldvogel, an extension associate professor at North Carolina State University who specializes in urban and industrial pests, says Asheville’s booming restaurant scene and ongoing construction create the right conditions for a spike in rodent activity.
In a process not open to the public, Council has selected a committee of “key community leaders” to help review candidates for the most powerful unelected official in city government. City spokesperson Polly McDaniel said the panel will provide “input and perspective on a list of candidates,” adding that members “will serve in an advisory role.”
Western North Carolina enjoys an abundant supply of high-quality water. Even so, experts say, whether you get your water from the city, a well, a bottle or through a home filter, it’s important to remain vigilant to ensure that the water you drink is really clean, safe and healthy.
The City of Asheville launched its new public engagement website, Open City Hall, on Thursday, March 17. The new platform will provide residents an easy way to access information and share their views directly with city staff and elected officials on issues of concern to the local community.