Asheville proposes to raise drinking water, stormwater, other fees by $1.3M

636241335041793646-wncdrinkingwater-008(Asheville Citizen-Times) The city is proposing $1.3 million in fee hikes for a range of services used by residents and visitors alike.

The increased fees and charges would be for things such as drinking water, stormwater system maintenance and fire inspections. Fees make up more 35 percent of all money taken in by Asheville, just behind property taxes, at 36 percent. The total operating budget for this fiscal year, ending June 30, is $180 million.

The most direct impact to residents will be increases in water rates and a fee charged to maintain stormwater systems, which deal with rainwater draining off homes and other buildings.

Read the full report by Joel Burgess HERE>

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$15M of diverted revenue goes unaddressed in new A-B Tech tax deal with Buncombe County

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Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College supporters cheer Nov. 8, 2011, after finding out voters narrowly passed the quarter-cent sales tax referendum. (Photo11: Citizen Times file)

(Asheville Citizen-Times) A deal passed in a split vote Tuesday night doesn’t seek to recover funding spent on what Chairman Brownie Newman called “frankly, poor decisions,” but it could move officials past a longstanding dispute over how to use money that was promised to fund new construction at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College and nothing more.

That’s despite the fact that Buncombe County transferred more than $15 million of the revenue to its own coffers and later used the money to pay employees, including corrupt administrators Greene and Jon Creighton, and to fund operational needs long before commissioners voted to expand the use of the tax.

Newman and commissioners Jasmine Beach-Ferrara and Amanda Edwards voted against the proposal Tuesday night.  Dissenting commissioners said the county should take more time to deliberate an official vote on the deal, which falls short of a $130 million plan for new construction that was pitched to voters during the 2011 referendum. They also acknowledged the handling of the tax has damaged relations between the county and A-B Tech — and the public.

Read the full report by Jennifer Bowman HERE>

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Voters were promised a sales tax would be for A-B Tech projects alone. That didn’t happen.

Answer Man: Asheville Outlets crime stats? ‘City app’ poor response?

636407287903952148-ashbrd-03-08-2016-act-1-a007-2016-03-07-img-ashevilleoutlets-003-1-1-i4dmc302-l773256555-img-ashevilleoutlets-003-1-1-i4dmc302(Asheville Citizen-Times) I did indeed ask Asheville Police Department spokeswoman Christina Hallingse for crime stats at Asheville Outlets going back five years, and she delivered. Keep in mind that the Outlets opened in May 2015, so the data from 2014-April 30, 2015 is for the previous tenants or unfinished property.

“Thirteen percent (220 calls) involved shoplifting, larceny and business breaking and entering, crimes consistent with major retail areas,” Hallingse said. “Of these calls for service 0.3 percent of incidents (six total incidents) are categorized as violent crimes —rape, homicide, robbery and aggravated assault.”

Hallingse also noted that Asheville Outlets is located within the Police Department’s Adam District, which encompasses West Asheville.

Read John Boyle’s full column HERE>

County used A-B Tech sales tax to pay salaries of corrupt officials

e4f13896-bc24-4501-8d0d-88cb0cce7be3-pjimage_2(Jennifer Bowman)  More than $400,000 of sales tax revenue that officials said would fund only new construction at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College instead was diverted to pay county employees, including corrupt administrators Wanda Greene and Jon Creighton.

Buncombe government also began using the revenue to pay for A-B Tech operations long before county commissioners decided to expand use of the tax.

Records released to the Citizen Times show none of the nearly $16 million transferred to the county’s own coffers was spent on capital projects. That amounts to about 20 percent of all revenue generated by the tax, a pot of money that community leaders promised would fund a $130 million building plan at A-B Tech when they pitched it to county voters almost eight years ago.

Read the full report by Jennifer Bowman HERE>

EXTRA COVERAGE:
Commissioners take up question of A-B Tech funding (Mountain XPress)

Forstchen explores existential threat in new book, ’48 Hours’

636233624995630950-forstchen-pipe(Black Mountain News) Before the 2009 release of “One Second After,” which would go on to hold a spot on “The New York Times” Best Seller list for 12 weeks on its way to selling over a million copies, few people were aware of what life might look like in the aftermath of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack.

Author and Montreat College history professor and faculty fellow William Forstchen painted a detailed portrait, set in his hometown of Black Mountain, depicting the struggles modern society would face moving forward in a world devoid of electricity.

In his newest novel, “48 Hours,” Forstchen examines humanity in the hours before an eminent extinction level event.

Read the full expose’ by Fred McCormick HERE>

I have wings that have sprung free. Come fly with me.