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Town votes to let county collect taxes, passes $7.24M budget

By Clint Parker

Weaverville – Six discussion and action items were on the agenda for the Town of Weaverville Council’s regular monthly meeting Monday night (June 22). However, there was work to be done before they could start on those items.

First, was the consent agenda where the council approved the monthly tax report (97.86% collected, usually more than 99% by this time in the year), and appointed Jennifer Jackson as an interim tax collector to finish up duties for FY 2019-2020, including the preparation and presentation of the tax settlement. Jackson was appointed as a result of the resignation of Derek Huninghake as the town clerk. The consent agenda also included a budget amendment for the police department’s Cops for Kids program and temporarily suspended the town’s fishing license requirement for a period of one year starting July 1. In her report to the board, Coffey said she had, with the consent of the mayor, canceled the July Summer Series, but said a planning and fire citizens academy segments would be held via Zoom and a police department segment held in-person on July 16, with splitting the class into two sessions, to provide for safe social distancing.

She said the town has continued to work to complete the Bike-Ped application and submit it by the end of the month. She then informed the board that the town could expect to receive our second grant, totaling approximately $13,000 for the purchase and implementation of our new recycling carts beginning in July.

The town council then took on their first action item, which involved its first change order to the new Lake Louise Community Center as the Metropolitan Sewage District is requiring a grease trap and an additional cost of rock removal for the footings of the building increased the cost of the center by $6,585.24.

The council also passed a five-year plan to bring the town into compliance with the Americans With Disabilities (ADA) Title II regulation after an audit by the Asheville-firm of WithersRavenel presented a plan which found deficiencies in the town’s architecture that limits accessibility (read the related story on page 6).

A new recycling contract with Curbside Management will have an increased cost for town residents and some changes to how they handle their recycling materials. The town contract with Curbside started in 2014 at $2.59 per month per house to handle the recyclables. The current rate is $2.78, and the new rate will be $3.00 per month per house, with it going to $3.15 in July of 2021. The last increase in the five-year contract comes “..as the Town puts the new recycling containers into service and phases out the “blue bags” over the next year.

Council members then discussed joining the rest of the towns in the county (with the exception of Biltmore Forest) and allow Buncombe County to do Weaverville’s tax collection. Weaverville would have to pay Buncombe about $62,000 annually for the service, which was a concern to Councilman Jeff McKenna that they cost would not be revenue-neutral. Councilman Andrew Nagle was firmly against Buncombe County, handling any of the town’s money after “their track record” over the years (referring to corruption revealed at the highest levels of county government).

After some discussion about the problem of training and keeping long-term employees, Vice-Mayor Councilman Doug Jackson and Councilwoman Dottie Sherrill seconded the motion to handing town’s tax collections to Buncombe, and it passed 3 – 2 with McKenna joining Nagle in voting against the move.

The board then voted to pass a $7.24 million budget for 2020-2021 with a property tax rate of 38 cents per $100 of evaluation. The most substantial part of the budget will go to the fire department ($2.5 million) followed by the police department ($1.984 million) then the sanitation division ($702,518) and administration ($629,587).

The board also heard a report from the public works director before adjourning for the night.

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