Budget discussions for Fiscal Year 2018-19 have been ongoing since early fall, 2017, as staff worked with the community and City Council to move key initiatives forward.
By state law, the City of Asheville must pass a balanced budget by July 1 each year. In every budget year, getting there entails conversations between staff, Council and community members. The funds available for community and Council priorities are never enough to fund everything, so the conversations, thoughtful questions and discussions about trade-off options that they lead to are a critical part of planning the annual operating budget.
Staff presented information to City Council during three operating budget work sessions: March 27, April 10 and April 24, along with potential strategies to balance the budget. In these sessions, Council identified three areas to expand service that they wanted staff to include in the Fiscal Year 2018-19 budget:
- Adding an additional set of turnout gear for all firefighters to enhance safety and mitigate health risks.
- Adding staff to the Office of Equity and Inclusion, and;
- Adding a staff member to enhance support of ART bus service and the new Transit Master Plan.
Budget staff worked with departments and City management to refine requests and ensure community priorities are incorporated into the budget. As typically occurs, expenditures required to meet the identified needs exceeded projected revenue. In order to address this, the following budget balancing strategies were supported by Council at the work sessions:
- Maintain existing health insurance contribution
- Reduce Asheville Fire Department fleet allocation in light of new equipment coming on line
- Employee compensation increase of 2.5%
- Adjust the parking garage fees: The daily maximum and monthly rates will increase, and the “first hour free” model will convert to an “in-and-out in an hour free”
- Renegotiated county tax billing contract
- Adjust Asheville Police Department recruiting to better reflect anticipated hires
- Incorporate additional fund balance allocation
Budget adoption schedule
Budget presentations, public comment and adoption will occur during these City Council meetings, which begin at 5 p.m., Council Chambers, second floor of City Hall:
- May 15: Manager’s Recommended Fiscal Year 2018-2019 Budget will be formally presented to Council.
- May 22: City Council will hold a public hearing on the budget.
- June 19: Council is expected to adopt the budget during this meeting.
- July 1: Fiscal Year 2018-2019 Budget goes into effect.
Want more information? Presentations and materials for Council have been posted on the City’s Budget Process webpage.
Related to the budget:
Asheville’s larger development fees to rise, tennis center passes lowered