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Research Documents

1) Overview of the Asheville Water Department
2) Water Rate Facts — MSD rates have increased more than Asheville water rates
3) Lack of representation — “Mapping Asheville’s Politics”
4) Privatization component
5) Asheville Downtown Association position statement on the issue
6) The Wadley-Donovan Report (Asheville Chamber of Commerce)
7) Moffitt’s committee draft report released on April 13, 2012
8) Other resources


Overview of the Asheville Water Department: An overview of the Asheville Water System presented by the City of Asheville.  An arbitrary proposal to seize such a well-managed utility to turn over to an unelected body should give everyone pause. We’ve asked ourselves many times, if Raleigh succeeds in seizing one water system against the will of both the people and public officials of a region, then what is to stop the state from taking anything without good cause or moral authority?


Water Rate Facts … This memo from Stephen Shoaf, Director of Asheville Water Resources, dated 2-23-12 refutes inaccurate statements made by Rep. Moffitt in the press. One of the most interesting facts concerns Metropolitan Sewage District (MSD) rates. Moffitt has said that he started this whole strange business because he was mad that the city raised rates on businesses and that the rates were arbitrary. This document shows his statements to be nonsense. Most interestingly, one of the three options that Moffitt has proposed to his study committee is an option to merge the  water system into the MSD. However, businesses may want to take a hard look at this memo from Mr. Shoaf. From 2005 to the present, the City’s rates “did not increase nearly as much as the MSD rate for industrial users.”


Another disturbing part of this issue concerns the structure of Moffitt’s committee.  The five-person committee includes Rep. Chuck McGrady of Henderson County, who has an old ax to grind against the City concerning water. Understandably, McGrady is looking out for Henderson County. The other three members of the committee are from regions far from Buncombe. Rep. Tom Murry of Wake County didn’t bother to show up for the Asheville hearing. That was very evident in his quotes in the Asheville Citizen-Times. They just didn’t make any sense and included an odd reference to an “elephant in the room.” (What elephant, sir? The record at the hearing shows that more than 94% of the attendees spoke against Moffitt’s actions, including city AND county officials. The real elephant in the room is how much this whole charade is costing taxpayers.)

Tellingly, Moffitt shut Patsy Keever and Susan Fisher, both of Buncombe, out of the committee. Keever & Fisher represent 68% of water ratepayers. The Asheville Downtown Association put together the following entertaining and enlightening piece of research on the matter:


Barry Summers, on “Privatizing Asheville’s Water: Barry Summers presents his research into a water privatization situation in Tryon, just south of Asheville, as well as Rep. Moffitt’s activities on a Public-Private Partnerships committee in Raleigh. A look at what that could mean for Buncombe’s water.


The Asheville Downtown Association has taken a very strong position against the effort to seize Asheville’s water system. Click here to view their statement.

6) WADLEY-DONOVAN REPORT: We have asked the Asheville Chamber of Commerce to take a stand on this issue but they’ve declined. They don’t want to get “caught up in political turmoil.” Understandable, however, this issue will negatively impact our our economic well-being if Moffitt’s vision for our water is carried through. In 1998, the Chamber and the Buncombe County Economic Development Commission hired a consultant (Wadley-Donovan) to pinpoint the challenges to our economic development and to give recommendations for action to remove those challenges. On page 9, they tell the Chamber that they do have a definite role to play when it comes to political issues that negatively impact our area’s future:

“However, in our opinion, the city and county together have an unhealthy and unstable business climate. Compared with most other areas in which we have worked, there are many indications that the area’s regulatory environment fluctuates between overly restrictive and inflexible in the city and too lax in the county. The degree of disparity is magnified because it occurs in a relatively small geographic area. Developers react with frustration and impatience and appear unreasonably critical and uncooperative. …

The fact that these problems continue to exist to this degree, nearly four years after they were mentioned in the 1995 report is of great concern to us. The area’s diversified communities and special interest groups have not been able to come together to face new and serious threats to the area’s future. In fact, we see the reverse. Groups have become firmly entrenched in their own self-interest, to the detriment of the entire area.

It is time for the different sides to stop talking about each other and start constructively talking with each other. Compromise, flexibility and a dedication to the area’s common good are needed from all parties. There is a role for the Chamber to play in mediating the situation.

7) Moffitt’s committee draft report released on April 13, 2012 — Submit a response to this by 4/19/12.