Government Accountability Project Asheville


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The Asheville City Council meets this Tuesday 5/24/22 at 5 pm. You can attend the meeting in person at Harrah’s Cherokee Center, 87 Haywood Street, Asheville, NC in downtown Asheville. The full agenda is here.

There are four items that the GAP Strategy Team identified as relevant to racial justice this week.



Things that seem problematic

Asheville City Council New Business A. Resolution authorizing the City Manager to apply for, and if awarded, receive grant funds from the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority. (Documents)

The City intends to use funds (if awarded) from the Tourism Development Authority (TDA) for 1) the municipal golf course 2) the Swannanoa Greenway 3) the WNC Nature Center 4) Infrastructure restructuring of Coxe Avenue.

We recognize that the City is limited to using these funds for things that support tourism, but are disappointed that the City is giving such minimal priority to the growth of Black tourism through amplification of Black-owned businesses and local Black history and projects. There is a brief reference in the funding request for “Additions to the African American Heritage trail,” which we support, but the vast majority of the funds sought seem designed to continue the status quo and attract the same kinds of tourists that Asheville already attracts.

Things to do

We encourage you to reach out to the Asheville City Council and the City Manager via email (; Ask them why they aren’t requesting funds from the TDA to boost Black tourism in Asheville.

City chooses the same nonprofits to receive government funding

The City recently appropriated funds for the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and is currently sifting through candidates for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. (You can see the latest table of applications for the latter here.)

We are concerned that the same white-led organizations receive the bulk of these funds, year after year, despite the City’s stated intention of boosting Black-led organizations. We wonder what City Council plans to do to shift this dynamic.

Things to do

We encourage you to reach out to the Asheville City Council via email ( Ask them what their vision is for shifting this familiar dynamic, where almost all government funding that the City allocates ends up going to the same well-established white-led organizations, and there is no visible pathway for supporting more Black-led organizations in qualifying for this funding.



Things of concern, more information needed

Presentation of the Fiscal Year 2022-23 Annual Operating Budget (Power Point)

This is the draft budget for the City of Asheville.

We continue to be troubled by the City Manager’s tendency to share documents like this shortly before they are presented at City Council, rather than days in advance. Because this presentation wasn’t published with the rest of the City Council agenda, we weren’t able to read through and analyze it in advance of tomorrow’s meeting. We will post our analysis next week.

Things to do

We encourage you to read through the budget presentation for yourself. We’ll share our findings in a future report.

City and County Boards of Education asking for significant funding increases

There has been significant staff attrition, which a study attributed in part to wages that are inadequate to the local cost of living. (You can read more about the situation in this Citizen-Times article.)

Back in March, we joined the Asheville City Association of Educators in calling for all Asheville City Schools staff to receive a living wage. We reiterate that support now, and believe the same should be true for Buncombe County Schools. However, we have questions about how this problem can be solved over the long-term, given that the state declined to boost Buncombe’s employee base pay.

Things to do

We encourage you to reach out to the County Commissioners via their contact page and join us in calling for a living wage for all Buncombe County School employees. We suggest you ask them to share their long-term vision for sustaining the folks who work in our schools.



No action needed

Reparations Commission Meeting #2 Monday evening

You can attend in person at Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville, located at 87 Haywood Street, or watch online via the City’s Engagement HUB and Buncombe County’s Facebook page. You will also be able to watch recordings of the meeting at those same sites. 

Things to do

Attend the meeting, in person or online, or watch the recording. Check the Community Reparations Commission webpage for further updates.