Monday - Oct 23, 2017

Adopted City budget is now online


budget illustration

 

Asheville residents see modest fee changes
with new fiscal year, July 1

 

Fourteen cents per month. That’s how much most residents will pay in an increase for their stormwater services starting July 1.

 

The City of Asheville’s fiscal year began July 1 and with it come some modest fee increases. Residents can find a list of all City fees in an online document, the City of Asheville Fees and Charges Manual 2017-18. The Fiscal Year 2017-18 budget has also been posted on the City of Asheville website.

 

Tony McDowell, Budget Manager with the City’s Finance Department, said most people will notice changes in their combined utility statement and in downtown parking fees. Residential water rates will rise by 1.5 percent while the stormwater services fee will go up 5 percent. For example, a resident with a 2,000-square-foot or less home will see their stormwater services fee go from $2.76 per month to $2.90. The water and stormwater fees will be effective July 1 for bills issued on or after Sept. 1.

 

The changes are aimed at cost recovery.

 

“These fees are designed to ensure that the City has enough money to cover operating expenses and capital improvement expenses as well,” McDowell said.

 

Some fee increases apply to mainly builders, commercial and residential, if you apply for a permit at the Development Services Department. Or if you want to rent a City facility.

 

The increases go into effect with the beginning of the fiscal year. Here is the fee schedule approved by City Council in their June 13 vote to approve the 2017-18 budget:
Fee Changes Ordinance approved by City Council.

 

Hourly parking in the City’s four garages will rise from $1 per hour to $1.25, compared to $1.50 for hourly on-street metered parking. The first hour in the garages is still free. Additional income earned from the quarter increase will go toward extending the life of the Civic Center Parking Garage.

Special event parking at Civic Center Parking Garage will go up by $2. Revenue from that is earmarked for Thomas Wolfe Auditorium maintenance.

 

What’s not going up

 

  • Parks & Recreation fees remain the same, with the exception of annual pass holder fees to the Aston Park Tennis Center (Aston Park Fees Ordinance 2017). No other parks fees are going up, such as admission to the WNC Nature Center or to participate in athletic leagues that Parks provides.
  • Trash collection fees remain the same, with no additional charge to our residents for recycling.
  • ART bus service will offer free rides on Election Day.

 

 

Fiscal responsibility

The fee changes comply 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.

 

Related coverage:

Asheville City Council approves 2017-18 budget containing more community investment

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