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.
“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.
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.
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.
City staff hosted listening sessions to learn how residents envision the delivery of public safety services. But Asheville City Council must vote on budget allocations for the remainder of the fiscal year on Tuesday, Sept. 22, leaving little time to synthesize and consider participants’ input