City of Asheville plans budget for next year while analyzing financial effects from pandemic

budget update photo illustration

 

During every budget season City staff work to analyze trends and develop forecasts that provide the financial context for City Council decisions during the budget process. For the fiscal year that begins July 1, those decisions will have to be made with limited information about the length and severity of the economic downturn we are currently experiencing. City Council will hold a virtual budget work session at 3 p.m. today. Find information on how to view the virtual budget work session at this link

 

Key takeaways from the presentation are:

  • There will be continued major uncertainty concerning the economic outlook and how much revenue the City will receive.
  • We are looking at next year’s budget being a continuation budget with limited service enhancements.
  • Even with state and federal support, the use of fund balance, our emergency rainy day funds, will be needed to support operations.

 

Ways we’re helping

The City of Asheville is working to support our community through this crisis, and will continue to provide the services our residents and businesses rely on. The City is partnering with Buncombe County to provide financial support to the community through the One Buncombe Fund.

Fees for on-street and garage parking have been waived to improve access for curbside services and to businesses that must remain open. Bus fares have also been waived to protect our drivers and ensure transportation access.

Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville has been used as a shelter to provide a safe place for our most vulnerable residents — those experiencing homelessness.  This model is being transitioned to a non-congregate shelter setting, but will still allow the City to provide supportive services with the goal of transitioning as many of these individuals to permanent housing.

The Development Services Department is waiving or deferring fees for permits that are directly impacted by the current pandemic. City staff have also elected to suspend typical increases to user fees and charges, including for water and stormwater service.

 

Find a staff report about temporarily suspended or deferred Fees & Charges and loan payments to the City scheduled for the May 12 Council meeting here. 

 

Financial impacts and how we’re working to mitigate them

Through sound financial planning, the City will weather the loss of revenue from parking fees, transit fares, and temporarily closing the HCCA. The most significant revenue loss to the City will be from sales taxes. With businesses closed, residents out of work, and physical distancing measures in place, staff anticipate a significant decline in sales tax revenue. City leaders are limiting spending and postponing hiring in an effort to mitigate the impact of revenue losses in the current fiscal year, and will continue to do so for the duration of this crisis.

 

As a result of this economic uncertainty, staff anticipate minimal revenue growth, meaning less funding is available for new and expanded programs or services. While the City, like many in our community, is having to make difficult financial decisions to slow and defer important spending, work on Council strategic goals will continue to move forward. 

 

Updated budget schedule

 

  • May 26 – City Manager’s proposed budget presented to City Council
  • June 9 – City Council to hold budget public hearing
  • June 23 – Proposed budget goes before City Council for adoption
  • July 1 – Fiscal Year 2020-2021 budget goes into effect

 

For budget presentations and to follow the process, visit our budget process webpage.

 

 

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