Asheville City Council held their fifth and final budget work session May 11. Staff provided draft budget recommendations for City Council to consider including in the manager’s recommended budget. To review the presentation and materials, visit this website.
The draft recommendations for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021-2022 budget include a balanced and fiscally responsible budget that:
- Is based on internal work, community input and Council priorities, and reflects a continuation of the reimagining public safety process.
- Preliminarily recommends a sustainable property tax rate 3 cents above revenue neutral to fund investments in Council priorities.
- Continues funding core community services in a time of rising costs.
- Strategically utilizes fund balance for one-time funding to advance the City’s Reparations and Neighborhood Grants Programs.
- Fully restores funding for positions held vacant in FY 2020-2021.
- Minimizes impact of fee increases while maintaining services.
- Water fees are proposed to increase by $6.56 bi-monthly for the typical homeowner, primarily to cover capital infrastructure needs. Overall water fees are still at a lower level than they were in fiscal 2020 due to the removal of the Capital Improvement Fee.
- Does not increase solid waste or stormwater fees.
- Continues funding the City’s multi-year capital improvement program (CIP), and identifies capacity within the existing funding through lower interest rates and revised spending schedules to provide an additional $2 million in capital projects per year over the next five years. This funding will support additional investment in sidewalks, road resurfacing, facilities, and other capital projects.
This recommendation includes the following continued or increased investments in our community:
Investments in Reparations
- A $1.2 million appropriation from available fund balance to further the Reparations process, which will allocate $200,000 to a planning and community engagement process and provide $1 million in initial funding for the Reparations Fund itself.
- Anticipate other outside investments from possible hotel rezonings (Community Benefits Table).
Investments in neighborhoods and housing
- Allocate an additional $150,000 from available fund balance (for a total of $200,000) to launch a neighborhood grant program.
- Continue the annual Housing Trust Fund contribution at $500,000.
- Continue to provide an annual $225,000 to support Land Use Incentive Grant (LUIG) and development fee rebate payments for affordable housing projects.
- Additional $2 million in annual capital funding within the existing CIP, available through lower interest rates and revised spending schedules, to support additional investments in sidewalks, road resurfacing, facilities and other infrastructure.
Investments in youth
- Allocate new funding to expand community center evening and weekend hours ($450,000) and expand the level of service in high use parks and facilities ($300,000).
- Continue to fund the City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy (CAYLA) at $257,000 annually.
- Maintain the $242,000 allocation for Strategic Partnership Funds (SPF) to support nonprofit organizations that serve Asheville residents.
- Continue the partnership with Asheville City Schools on Positive Opportunities Develop Success (PODS) at recreation centers, which began during the pandemic.
- Continue working with community partners to identify programming needs.
Investments in Reimagining Public Safety (Safe Communities)
- Based on current staffing levels and hiring plans in APD, the recommendation assumes sworn position vacancy savings will be utilized to:
- Fund the APD portion of the Archer Compensation Study and additional overtime needed to maintain coverage ($2 million).
- Fund overtime so that officers can attend trainings associated with reimagining including de-escalation, verbal judo, crisis intervention training, and fair and impartial policing. As travel restrictions are eased, staff will also attend conferences that cover best practices around data, transparency, officer wellness, recruitment and co-responder models for people in crisis ($42,000).
- Reallocate an additional $110,000 in funding from APD to the Development Services Department (DSD) to provide support for the Animal Control and Noise Ordinance Enforcement programs.
- Continue funding the contract for body-worn and vehicle camera maintenance at an increased cost of $180,000.
- Utilize fund balance or American Rescue Plan Act funding to consolidate 911 response services with Buncombe County. (The County will not be including a consolidated 911 in their manager’s recommended budget, instead considering it as a mid-year adjustment.)
- Fund an additional 15 firefighters to be hired in the fall of 2021 to staff the new Broadway Public Safety Station which is anticipated to open in the fall of 2022 ($583,000).
- Increases the City’s share of the cost for 15 firefighters hired in 2018 and 2019 utilizing SAFER grant program funding.
- Continue conversations with the Asheville Housing Authority and Asheville City Schools to assess APD’s role.
- Continue funding for the data and neighborhood service enhancements and additional homeless outreach that were approved last fall as part of the initial phase of the reimagining public safety process.
- Departmental initiatives, including technology solutions to help with community transparency and conversations. TIP411 (anonymous tip line) and a transparency dashboard are in place.
- Continue funding for the new Community Engagement Office. This division is active in the community through attending community meetings (some still virtual) and having open conversations about crime, houselessness, traffic, violent crime and other quality of life issues.
- Proposals for a crisis response team for mental health & substance abuse and a houselessness response team remain under development with partners.
Investments in transportation
- Allocate $1.1 million to implement the next phase of the Transit Master Plan beginning in October 2021 to include:
- Extended evening hours (completion of year one of Transit Master Plan).
- S3 and S6 increase frequency (from 90 minutes to 45 minutes).
- Fund maintenance of the recently completed River Arts District Transportation Improvement Project (RADTIP) for a full year ($154,000).
- Continue to fund current Transit service, with a cost increase of $175,000.
Investments in environment
- Allocate additional funding to maintain the City’s household recycling program in a time of increasing costs within the recycling industry ($300,000).
- Additional funding of $200,000 to provide storm response due to an increase in significant weather events.
- Continue funding for the Green Savings Program (total available July 1: $425,000).
- Continue to enforce the Tree Ordinance with existing staff during the next fiscal year, and assess future needs as construction activity increases.
- Conduct a midyear assessment of sanitation and stormwater services.
Investments in economic development
- Allocate additional funding to meet the City’s previously approved economic incentive agreements ($380,000).
- Reallocate $60,000 of contracted services funding for a new position in the Asheville Business Inclusion Office (ABIO).
Investments in employees and workforce
- Fully fund implementation of the Archer Compensation Study recommendations for employees on the public safety pay plans and increase compensation for all other employees up to the new Archer-recommended minimum pays or provides a 2.5% pay increase, whichever is greater ($7.9 million).
- Fully fund positions held vacant during FY 2020-21 ($1.1 million).
- Increase the City’s contribution to the North Carolina Local Government Retirement System by the required 1.2% for all employees ($700,000).
- Add 2 new paid holidays (Juneteenth and Veteran’s Day).
- Add 8 weeks of paid parental leave.
- Add 6 weeks of paid leave for care of a qualified family member with a serious health condition.
- Maintain employee and employer contributions to the City’s healthcare program at the same level for the fourth consecutive fiscal year.
Remaining timeline for the budget process:
- City Manager’s Proposed Budget presentation — May 25
- Public hearing for the budget — June 8
- Budget adoption — June 22
For more information, visit the Equity-Focused Budget Engagement webpage.