City of Asheville moving to fee structure that supports services

July 1 will bring
some fee increases to residents


Plan now for a few upticks in City fees that will go into effect July 1.

In the 2016-2017 budget, which goes before City Council for approval at its June 14 meeting, are a 1.5 percent water rate increase for residential and small commercial customers and a 3.5 percent increase for large commercial and manufacturing customers. Trash collection will increase from $10.50 to $14 a month. The stormwater fee will increase by 5 percent.

The City’s motor vehicle fee will go up to $30. This increase will be reflected when you go to register your tag. It is a flat fee, unlike the vehicle taxes which vary with the value of your car..


Paying for City services

At staff’s recommendation, City Council approved the increases at its March 22 meeting. The July 1 date is the beginning of the fiscal year for the City, so that’s why the increases go into effect at that time.

The action complies with City’s Council’s stated goal to “operate the City of Asheville to the highest level of fiscal responsibility.” That includes raising some rates incrementally to sustain the City’s financial structure. “Rates have to increase with costs, just like pay has to increase with inflation,” said Barbara Whitehorn, Chief Financial Officer for the City, “Other services have been subsidized by taxpayers. The City is trying to move away from this model to one in which fees that reflect the actual cost of service provided.”

The three main types of revenue available to North Carolina cities include:

  • Local taxes (including property and sales tax)
  • Local fees
  • Intergovernmental and miscellaneous revenue, such as grants and shared taxes

In Asheville, local fees make up about 10 percent of the City’s General Fund revenue and 36 percent of city-wide revenue. The City uses in-house expertise as well as outside consultants to evaluate fees in a process that includes benchmarking against other North Carolina cities and municipalities nationwide. Cost recovery is a key component of fee assessment, as mentioned above.

The 2016-2017 budget includes cost recovery increases for facility rentals at the U.S. Cellular Center, WNC Nature Center and the Aston Park Tennis Center.


How the increases will affect you

People will mostly notice the increases on their combined utility services bill. How much will your statement go up?

In 2015, the average combined utility services bill for a household of two was $74.48 per month, or $148.96 every two months, which is how the City bills. This includes garbage pickup, the stormwater fee, water and sewer services, plus a capital improvement fee. As of July 1, 2016, the average combined utility services bill for a household of two $79.23 per month, or $158.47 every two months.