Friday, October 30, 2015

Transfer of Waterlines

Buncombe County transfers their waterlines to the City of Asheville under duress

Buncombe County Board of Commissioners

David Gantt, Chairman
K. Ray Bailey, Commissioner
Bill Stanley, Commissioner
Carol Peterson, Commissioner
Holly Jones, Commissioner

Regular Meeting
May 15, 2012
Consent Agenda: inclusive of

Resolution 12-05-06. Resolution Granting the Chairman Authority to Deed Any Remaining Interests in the Properties Known as Municipal Gold Course, Recreation Park/WNC Nature Center, McCormick Field, South Pumping Station and All County Owned Water Assets to the City of Asheville

Carol Peterson moved to approve the Consent Agenda. Holly Jones seconded the motion. Motion passed 5-0.

Source: Buncombe County Clerk to the Board Archives

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Kaliner Interviews Joe Dunn

Pete Kaliner interviews former city council member Dr. Joe Dunn about the water system.
October 26, 2015


Water Lawsuit Press Conference

Monday, October 26, 2015

Kaliner Interviews Janet Cowell

Pete Kaliner interviews NC Treasury Secretary Janet Cowell


KALINER: Your office has had a little bit of a role in our local debate over the water system. I guess you did a report or you gave an opinion to the effect of how a transfer, how this merger would or could impact the city's finances.

COWELL: So, yeah, to clarify, the Treasurer's Office...we are also very unique nationally in that out of the Depression came a system of oversight of local government. We had one hundred and sixty defaults during the Depression. Not good.

KALINER: Not all from here, though. Most of them, probably.

COWELL: Well, all over the state.

KALINER: There were...but...yeah, but there were a bunch from Asheville.

COWELL: All over the state.


COWELL: And so we put in an oversight system, called the Local Government Commission run through the Treasurer's Office and we look at the finances for every single unit of government. We help them issue debt and just make sure that everything stand between the guard rails. In the situation with Asheville, we are sort of the technical adviser to the situation and all of this gets complicated because, actually, the bill is drafted strangely, so it was not clear: does this need to go through the Local Government Commission? But we're goal is to make sure that everything is smooth-functioning, that there's no disruption to the bond market in North Carolina, you know, that the operations continue and try to work with everyone to make sure that that is what happens.

KALINER: So, well, because Asheville city leadership has been saying that your office gave this report that basically supports their position that this could disrupt their credit rating.

COWELL: I think the piece that we spoke to is that there was some conception that: oh, this won't impact the...the, um, you know, the budget of the city and in fact, you know, there are city administrative services, like technology or the city manager, and you allocate portions of that, so there's a two million hit to their budget with this transfer and so we wrote a note explaining that, and showing... saying why that's legitimate, that's not a problem. But you just need to understand...

KALINER: That doesn't undermine their triple-A. That would not...a two million dollar hit.

COWELL: No, not in and of itself. And their documents have been much more clearly written. We have weighed in more on the Charlotte Airport because it is a...their documents on that bond transfer did not foresee a transfer. Asheville's did foresee a transfer. There are still complications, um, but in Charlotte it's also eight million dollars of outstanding bonds. That is a very big issuance and it is very unclear how that would all roll out.

KALINER: And I'm just...and you've also've got the Feds involved on that side of it because you've got FAA stuff, I'm sure.

COWELL: Exactly. So...once...anything with airports, I think it's even more complicated than local. But we are also running a bill trying to clarify for water/ know, Asheville is a great system. You guys are solid, you're a very well-run unit. But that is the biggest problem with local government. I said it is not the Randy Parton Theaters or these, you know, crazy kind of entertainment complexes. Water/sewer is a huge problem. We're just trying to make a predictable path so that everybody can have a good system. If there is a change, or you do go regional, that there are clear guidelines and there are no surprises.

KALINER: Because the MSD, the Metropolitan Sewerage District that runs the sewer side of things, the regionalized, sort of, sewer system, they...they've got good bond...they've got a good bond rating as well.


KALINER: So...and if these are Revenue Bonds versus G.O. Bonds, I would assume that the ownership follows...or the, you know, because it's supported by the revenue stream.

COWELL: Yeah, and I think...I think folks sometime overly fixated on the bond rating's going to be the issue. I think, sometimes it's an ancillary issue. Like, the City of Raleigh called me when Dick's...the Dicksly's...would that effect their bond rating? It's, like, no, it's not going to effect your bond rating. It doesn't mean that it's a good idea or bad idea. But it's not going to effect your bond rating. It takes a lot, you know, impact that. But that's not the only issue. There's obviously continuity of operations, those kinds of issues are probably the bigger...the bigger issues.

KALINER: So, how much guidance are you your office able to offer and what does that sort of look like on a...on a merger deal if this thing does get through the courts at some point? And it's going to be a while.

COWELL: Yeah. We're working hard. We have a public counsel, where we've been trying to understand the bill, because, again...and having been a state senator...sometimes things are not well-drafted. I know it's hard to believe.

KALINER: Shocking.

COWELL: Yeah. And this one been...the drafting was a little unclear. So, we are working both on that aspect as well as with the financial markets, the lawyers, to make sure that, you know, everything goes as smoothly as possible.

KALINER: North Carolina's treasurer Janet Cowell. We appreciate you stopping by today. Thank you very much. Are you heading back to Raleigh today or are you spending any time...?

COWELL: We are, if you have restaurant recommendations, we will be out on the town tonight...uh, yeah, we've got some more meetings tomorrow, so...

KALINER: All right. We appreciate you stopping by. Thanks so very much. Enjoy the rest of your stay here in the mountains.

COWELL: Thank you.

KALINER: Thank you.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Interview: Susan Fisher

WCQS has been sitting down with area lawmakers in the weeks since the legislature wrapped up its long session.  Today, WCQS talked with Democratic Rep. Susan Fisher of Buncombe County:


WCQS: Sort of switching gears away from the budget for just a Asheville water ruling that just came down...


WCQS: ...what did you think about that?

FISHER: I was extremely disappointed. I will tell you that I was there in the court room for the hearing before the state appeals court and I thought that our folks did a superb job. I am not an attorney, I don't play one on TV, but from what I could observe, our representation was clear and cogent and really stated the case very well, um, but you have to, again, look at the panel of judges that we had there listening to that case, a Republican panel, and certainly not favorable toward cities as, um, that ruling sort of says. Judge Manning had ruled in our favor, this court did not. And the fact that it was unanimous is a disappointing factor, too, because often you cannot get the Supreme Court to take these cases if they've been ruled unanimously at a lower level. But we, I hold out hope that they will they will be able to take it further because we made a really good case, I thought.

WCQS: Why is that, do you think? Was it, um, I know one of the issues was compensation..


WCQS: ...which Asheville was not given any compensation.

FISHER: That's right.

WCQS: Do you think that's one of the key issues.

FISHER: It is one of the key issues. I think that, um, the City of Asheville has invested a great deal of money and policy effort toward protecting a watershed that is very important to this area and especially in a time where water is kind of beginning to be more and more at a premium. The city invested a lot, they're going to see very little return on that investment if this ruling stands.


Fisher implies that the ruling is suspect because the Appeals Court panel consisted of Republicans. She has nothing to say about the panel of 2 Democrats and 1 Republican that ruled against them in 2008. Court of Appeals of North Carolina. CITY OF ASHEVILLE, a municipal corporation, Plaintiff, v. Wake County STATE of North Carolina, and County of Buncombe, et al., Defendants. No. COA07-516. Decided: August 19, 2008. MARTIN, Chief Judge. Judges STEELMAN and STEPHENS concur:

Fisher says "the City of Asheville has invested a great deal of money [in the water system]."Accurate but false. Actually, they merely managed loans on behalf of the ratepayers called Revenue Bonds. System ratepayers are on the hook for repayment. Water customers are the obligors. No city taxpayer money was invested. Asheville’s Revenue Bonds:


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

CIBO Candidate Forum 10.21.15

There seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding of the water merger by all six candidates for Asheville city council.

(candidate answers below taken from livetweeting by @DavidForbes )

First question: The latest Court of Appeals ruling was unanimous in transferring the water system from the City of Asheville to the Metropolitan Sewerage District. If this ultimately happens, how will you make up the loss of revenues and cash flow produced by the service?
Tim Peck: The City of Asheville would not experience any loss of revenue or cash flow produced by operating the public enterprise. It is illegal for the city to gain revenue or profit from the water system.

Haynes: hope we'll win, if not will deal closely w county and fight to prevent system being privatized.
Tim Peck: By law, the water system cannot be privatized.

Hunt: water $ goes to help fund gen services it uses (legal, payroll), making that up will be tough. State rule big negative.
Tim Peck: Water revenues can only go to water system support services.

Lee: amt from water loss would come out to about $2 million, weigh heavily. One thing wouldn't do so soon is prop tax/fee hike.
Tim Peck: There will be no loss. Water system revenues have to go toward operation and maintenance of the water system. The city makes no money from the public enterprise.

Mayfield: should use every resource to stop taking of system. Won't back down on city needs in face of Raleigh.
Tim Peck: Every resource?! Like unlimited taxpayer money?

Simerly: need to keep fighting, water system driven Asheville industry like brewing, coming here because of clean, pure water.
Tim Peck: The Water Act reorganizes management of the water system and changes nothing about the supply.

Young: should take every legal recourse. Tough times ahead if lose. Ideal wld be tda funds, but if not, may need cuts.
Tim Peck: Water system revenues do not go to the General Fund and do not fund services or special projects. Those revenues must stay within the system.


Water question clip:
Full Video: (Water question at 34:04)

Mountain Xpress report:

After brief opening statements from each candidate, CIBO President Rod Hudgins, who acted as moderator, asked: “The latest Court of Appeals ruling was unanimous in transferring the water system from the City of Asheville to the MSD (Metropolitan Sewerage District). If this ultimately happens, how will you make up the loss of revenues and cash flow produced by the service?”

Brian Haynes expressed his hope that the city will win in its fight to retain control of the system. If it does not, then the city should work with the county to ensure that the water system does not become privatized. That would be “the worst thing that could happen,” Haynes concluded.

Current council member and Vice Mayor Marc Hunt reported that revenue from the water system currently accounts for a little less than a third of all city revenue, and that those system-related revenues defray some of the overhead costs shared among city departments. City Manager Gary Jackson began contingency planning for the possible transfer of the system two years ago, said Hunt, but if it happens, “it is going to be tough.” There are some tentative thoughts around how that would happen.

Rich Lee said the city would take a financial hit of about $2 million in the event of a transfer. Coming on the heels of last year’s state-mandated discontinuation of the business privilege license tax (which resulted in a loss of $1.5 million), a water system transfer would be another blow to the city’s ability to generate revenue. However, Lee “won’t contemplate another tax increase” immediately after last year’s increase in the property tax rate, and said the city will have to find other places to make up the difference.

“The city must continue to invest in doing whatever we can to save the water system,” Julie Mayfield contributed. If the transfer occurs, the city will have to look for opportunities for savings. Mayfield offered a caveat: “I am not interested in backing up the city or stopping progress on the many needs we have around affordable housing and transportation infrastructure.”

Lindsey Simerly pointed out that control of Asheville’s water system affects much more than just city revenues. Employers and the jobs they create are attracted to the city by its plentiful supply of high quality water, she said.

Keith Young agreed that every legal avenue for fighting the transfer must be exhausted. If, despite those efforts, control of the system goes to the MSD, Young suggested looking to funds from the hotel occupancy tax administered by the Tourism Development Authority. Young acknowledged that recent efforts to spark conversations about funneling some of those funds (which are mandated by the state government to be used for travel and tourism-related advertising) toward infrastructure and public safety costs have not yielded results.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Water System Civil War

Asheville Politics Facebook thread
Letters to the Editor

Facebook thread, Oct 15-18, 2015

BARRY SUMMERS: Julie - I've held my tongue this long (for the most part), but this is too much. Where was this "whatever is necessary" talk when we were meeting on the water issue two - three years ago? A number of our group, SaveOurWaterWNC, met with you and others to try to craft a defense against this act of piracy, and I'd have to say you were the most conservative of us by far. In fact, anything that might ruffle feathers - you were against. And I have a certain group of feathers in mind: anything that would make Chuck McGrady mad, you were against.

Mountain Voices Alliance proposed a forum that would pit McGrady & Moffitt against Council members, Clean Water advocates, the Downtown Association, and our group... and you tried to talk us into cancelling it.

Asheville City Council voted unanimously to urge Gov. Perdue to veto the pre-seizure bill, H1009, that set the stage for the seizure to come. Our group lobbied hard to get the Gov. to veto... you urged her NOT to veto the bill. Your principal reason? We don't want to make the Republicans mad (read: Chuck won't like it.)

And the things you said in our meetings: 'What provisions do we want Chuck to put in the bill? I know, we're still against the bill, but Chuck says he'll put in things like environmental protections etc. if we ask.' Julie, it still amazes me that we had to ASK YOU to stop meeting with Chuck and acting as if you were negotiating for us.

'Chuck will keep Moffitt from making the bill any worse than it already is.' Julie, CHUCK was the one driving this (and still is), not Moffitt. I met with Chuck McGrady very early on, Julie, and he told me flatly that it was HIS idea to take Moffitt's ridiculous one-page bill and turn it into a study committee instead, and that's where it was honed into something that might pass constitutional muster.

'At the end of the day, I think we'll be glad that Chuck is working on this bill'. No words come to express my outrage over the fact that you thought we were that stupid.

Julie, I know that you lied to me on at least one occasion about something that I had tried to set in motion,that might have changed the game. But it would have been horribly politically damaging to Chuck, so I should have known better.

We proposed staging protests at McGrady/Moffitt/Ramsey offices or homes, and you were against that. This was the point where the other statewide groups like Sierra Club, American Rivers, League of Conservation Voters, etc. all started dropping out of working with us, with one saying explicitly that they couldn't afford to anger the one "good" Republican on the environment, Chuck McGrady. It isn't a coincidence that YOU were the Chair of their umbrella group, the NC Conservation Network that year, and that you all thought that Chuck would be your guy on fracking (he wasn't) and offshore drilling (he didn't) and coal ash (he wouldn't)? We got the sense that who controls Asheville's water system was small potatoes compared to those, and Chuck was the one dangling them in front of you.

Everyone should read the 'legislator profile' of Chuck McGrady on Julie's MountainTrue website. Other than that one sentence buried halfway down the second page about how much she disagrees on the water issue, the rest reads like a love letter.

We received tepid support from Julie on some of the things we tried to do - the petition, the rallies, the referendum, etc. It would have been conspicuous had she not. As long as it wasn't really in Chuck's face, she wasn't opposed. WNC Alliance members were great - several of our group are also WNCA members, of course. But Julie was a different story.

Julie has known that I and others in our group felt this way for a long time ("Barry - let's get together to talk about our differing recollections on how we worked together"). But the pressure to not form a circular firing squad is strong, and so I've resisted. But lord, Julie. The "whatever is necessary" talk you're waving around now that you're running for office is just too insulting for those of us who HAVE been fighting.

You were fighting back then alright - fighting to protect your political currency, your relationship with Chuck. What happens the next time he comes to bully the City over something, as we all know he will? Do we want someone on Council who will be trying to decide which master she is supposed to serve every time this happens? This is a critical time for Asheville, and I'd like to see people on Council who we KNOW will be fighting for the City.

BETH JEZEK: My memory of what took place closely matches Barry's. At the time I thought Julie was politically naive. I now believe her actions had more to do with her political ambitions than with her desire to save the water. It is politically expedient to oppose Chuck McGrady's legislation now that City Council has voted unanimously to appeal the court's decision. I respect Julie's intelligence and her ability to articulate the issues. I do not trust her.

ELAINE LITE: Barry didn't say Julie was working for the enemy, but that she was working for herself. It was important to her to stay on Chuck's good side for her to retain her clout in the environmental work she does, so she tried to keep us from making him mad. Unfortunately, that was going to be an unavoidable side effect of actually prevailing on the water issue, so she put herself in the position of weakening our unified response.

JULIE MAYFIELD: Ah, at last Barry emerges from the shadows. We do have different opinions of what happened back then, so let me be clear for the folks watching from home. You and I stood completely aligned on the goal of Asheville keeping its water system. There is, and never has been, any daylight between us on that. What we differed on was strategy and tactics - MVA took a more aggressive approach, but WNCA was fully engaged: I testified at the legislative hearing in opposition to the bill, we hired phone bankers who called thousands of people to ask them to vote No on the referendum; we took out a full page add in the AC-T (which MVA signed on to), I drafted a resolution that other local governments adopted in opposition to the takeover, I secured not one but two of the full-time environmental lobbyists in Raleigh to be our eyes and ears on the ground every day (American Rivers and NC League of Conservation Voters). Our group meetings happened at our office and I took the minutes. We have never disagreed that Asheville should keep its water system.

Did I meet with Chuck McGrady to talk about the bill? Yes, along with the Sierra Club. Did we have anything to offer or give Chuck to do what we wanted, which was for him to stand down? No. Absent that, did we hope that Chuck would improve the bill and make it not so punishing? Yes. Did that happen? Only slightly.

Do I disagree with Chuck on this? You bet. Does he know that? Absolutely. Does he know that if I’m elected, he and I will fight about it? Yep - I made that perfectly earlier this year. Do I also work with him on a range of other issues where he is incredibly helpful? Yes. Did he prevent some terrible provisions from becoming law this year and last year and the year before that? Yes and you would be happy he was there on those issues.

The bottom line is this: Asheville was not going to win the legislative fight on the water bill. All we could hope for was this the bill wouldn’t be the worst possible. The full-time lobbyists working with us knew that too and pulled out when MVA took what they viewed to be an unconstructive approach (I chaired NCCN’s board, not NCLCV’s board, so I had no influence in that decision). No amount of grassroots lobbying or calling for vetoes was going to change any of that. The fight needed to happen, and WNCA and MVA played different roles. We didn’t – and didn’t have to - agree on everything.

We’re on a different playing field now. No amount of lobbying or discussion will change the outcome now since it’s in the court’s hands. You can ask anyone else involved in working on the water bills back then – city staff and elected officials, the city’s lobbyist, environmental lobbyists, business leaders - where I stood and they will tell you: firmly in the court of Asheville keeping its water system.

BARRY SUMMERS: "The bottom line is..."

There it is. All of us who thought it was important to fight with all means necessary, were deluding ourselves, according to Julie. She determined that it was already a lost cause, and then set out to work on the bill with Chuck. WNCs leading environmentalist sent the signal that in her estimation, those of us who were still fighting were wasting our time. The fact that this is precisely what Chuck wanted, well... And she kept telling US that she was committed to fighting the bill, while in OTHER meetings, it was officially unwinnable already. Julie, did you tell City Council that you were lobbying against the veto that they were lobbying FOR?

After a meeting in Hendersonville mid-2013, a former DENR official said to me, "People around the state know that I know Asheville water issues, and they ask me: Why is Asheville being so passive?" I didn't know what to tell him, other than that there were some who thought that the fight was unwinnable. Here's the confirmation from Julie.

The Goethe quote, "Act boldly and mighty forces will come to your aid," has a corollary: "Signal your surrender, and mighty forces will stand back and watch you get the tar kicked out of you".

We'll never know what might have happened had Julie not been working against us and the City. I just know that the situation now is as bad as if we hadn't lifted a finger. I want to see people on City Council who haven't thrown in the towel before the next round starts.

From the "shadows"? Really Julie?

CECIL BOTHWELL: Cave first, negotiate later?

JULIE MAYFIELD: To be clear, I was not working against anything or anyone. I simply did not do everything you wanted to do and did. I never undercut or made what you or City Council or anyone else did less effective. I did not ask City Council not to request a veto and I certainly never urged Perdue not to veto the first bill. That would have been ridiculous. There are many forms of partnership and teamwork - in our case, we were singing from the same song book but off of different pages. I accept, and even embrace, that groups work in different ways and have different strengths - it takes groups of all kinds to mount effective campaigns. I never, ever undercut my partners - even when I don't agree with everything they do. I may not join them or I may distance myself from them, but I never undercut. Even though we didn't agree on everything, we still shared a common enemy and a common goal of Asheville keeping its water system. That was far more important than any differences you and I might have had. I am sorry we continue to see it differently.

CECIL BOTHWELL: And so, distance yourself from Marc Hunt?

JULIE MAYFIELD: Not sure what you mean Cecil Bothwell. Marc was working hard on the watershed protection piece of the puzzle. My communications were directly with Esther on the legislation.

BARRY SUMMERS: Julie Mayfield gives him a glowing review (below):


Mayfield failed to fight hard for city water system
Barry Summers | MX | October 28, 2015

As we fought the oncoming state seizure of Asheville’s water system, members of our group, SaveOurWaterWNC, met over a number of months with WNC Alliance Director Julie Mayfield and other environmental leaders to try to craft a unified response.

We eventually quit working with Julie after it became clear to us that it was more important to her to protect her relationship with the “good” Republican on the environment, Rep. Chuck McGrady, than to fight really hard for the city of Asheville. This impression came from her attempts to get us to “work’” with Chuck to make the bill less bad, if it happened to pass. It came from Julie’s opposition to Gov. [Bev] Perdue vetoing the precursor Metropolitan Sewerage District bill, which we and a unanimous City Council were lobbying her to do.

It came from her opposition to actions we proposed, like the Mountain Voices Alliance forum, which put Reps. McGrady and [Tim] Moffitt face-to-face with angry Asheville opponents to the seizure. Julie tried to get us to cancel it. And, it came out of the other environmental representatives dropping out of the fight, one stating explicitly that he “can’t afford to make McGrady mad.” This was a common refrain from Julie that we should avoid doing anything that would anger the Republicans, especially Chuck McGrady.

And we found it significant that that year, she was the chair of the NC Conservation Network, the umbrella group for all the environmental groups in the state. There was much more, and all this was documented in emails to our working group.

It’s well known that McGrady (one of the sponsors of the seizure bill), currently holds the keys to moving any environmental legislation forward. This is Julie’s professional bread and butter – her access to Chuck McGrady. It’s also well-known that McGrady is going to be the chief enforcer of Raleigh’s will over the city for the foreseeable future.

City Council will have tough decisions to make, over the water and many other issues, and confrontations with McGrady are all but assured.

Do we want someone on City Council during this critical time that has such a serious conflict of interest? I want Julie to succeed in her environmental work — but Asheville residents shouldn’t have to wonder if she’s sacrificing one to succeed at the other.

Mayfield says experience with legislators makes her more effective
Julie Mayfield | MX | October 28, 2015 by Letters

Barry Summers would have you believe that I was not sufficiently committed to fighting the legislative takeover of the Asheville water system, led by former Rep. Tim Moffitt and current Rep. Chuck McGrady. Here is just some of what the WNC Alliance and I did during that fight:

  • I testified in opposition to the bill at a legislative hearing.
  • We took out a full-page ad in Mountain Xpress calling on people to vote “No” on the 2012 referendum.
  • We hired phone bankers who called and asked thousands of Asheville residents to vote no.
  • I drafted a resolution that other local governments adopted in opposition to the takeover.
  • I secured the help of two full-time environmental lobbyists in Raleigh.
  • We promoted the forum Barry references, and we hosted an Asheville Green Drinks on the topic.
  • We worked closely with the city and its lobbyists, making sure our local grassroots strategy supported their efforts.

We stood completely aligned with SaveOurWaterNC on the goal of protecting Asheville’s water system. We differed only on strategy and tactics and, therefore, sometimes did different things. Everyone else involved in the water fight knew where I stood, including Rep. McGrady, and I have disagreed with him on this publicly. I have also told him that, if elected, I will fight him on the issue again if need be.

Asheville voters do not need to question my willingness or ability to fight for Asheville and its water system in Raleigh. Indeed, rather than creating a conflict of interest as suggested, my experience with the legislature and my relationships with our entire WNC delegation only make me more effective.

Mayfield didn’t represent in water system negotiations
Beth Jezek | MX | November 1, 2015

Many of us fought long and hard to keep Raleigh from taking Asheville’s water [system]. Julie Mayfield was there fighting with us.

Or that’s what we thought. We learned that Julie had been meeting with one of the authors of the bill, Rep. Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson), in an effort to gain minor concessions on the bill in return for us softening our opposition.

Mayfield was not authorized to represent our group, and it’s common knowledge that the water bill that was passed couldn’t be much worse. (If you are interested in the details, see SaveOurWaterWNC)

Julie cannot be trusted to represent us on City Council. What devil would she secretly attempt to cut her next deal with?

Friday, October 09, 2015

LTE: Water Lawsuit

Time for city to end frivolous lawsuits
Asheville Citizen-Times | October 8, 2015

The City of Asheville has lost its lawsuit over management of the water system.

Asheville City Council’s expensive and unnecessary lawsuit has cost taxpayers close to a million dollars and taxpayers are paying for both sides of the dispute. The mayor has promised the city will appeal. Enough.

The law is clear. It is time for City Council to stop wasting taxpayer money on frivolous lawsuits. It is time for City Council to obey the law and loosen its grip on the people’s water system.

It’s time for all water system customers to be represented on a regional water authority.

Tim Peck, Asheville


Asheville legal bills in water case top $550,000. That's how much was spent BEFORE the appeal. It's closer to $1M at this point. That's not counting the $57 million lost by rejecting the compensation offer by MSD.

Yes, the city was offered $57M for the water system by MSD. That was a discounted value taking into account the money the city had already stolen from the system. They turned down the offer of compensation because they thought it wasn't enough. Now they have lost the water system AND the $57 million.

The mayor is already promising to spend gobs of taxpayer money to continue fighting a losing battle.

An appeal by the City of a unanimous decision, citing SCOTUS, will only delay the inevitable by perhaps a few months. There was no dissent and, therefore, no basis for the state Supreme Court to hear an appeal. If the city does file cert as promised, it is likely to be summarily thrown out. I'd like to have a little chat with the mayor right about then.In the end, the city will turn over the water system to the people who use and depend on it.

This is the THIRD time the City of Asheville has lost in court over the water system.
1. Candler v. Asheville (1958). Status: Lost
2. Asheville v. State (2007). Status: Lost
3. Asheville v. State (2013). Status: Lost

In 2012, Senator Nesbitt (D) commented on the futility of the water fight:

The Water System in Blog Posts:

The Regionalization of Public Utilities: An idea whose time has come . . . again.

MSD Merger Study, March 20, 2013