Archive for Water
Opponents of a state measure to take over the Asheville city water system and forcibly merge it with the Metropolitan Sewerage District of Buncombe County met in Durham Saturday with members of the State Executive Committee of the North Carolina Democratic Party. State, city, and county legislators from every corner of the state were among the hundreds of delegates at the meeting to elect new state party officers.
The merger bill cosponsored by Reps. Tim Moffitt (R-Buncombe) and Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson) is expected to force a merger of the Asheville city water system with the Metropolitan Sewerage District of Buncombe County. It will be introduced within days and likely fast-tracked through the committee process. The House Standing Committee on Regulatory Reform, chaired by Moffitt, could review the bill.
Jake Quinn, a DNC member from Buncombe County, went to the microphone to address the assembly about the legislation.
It’s an older video, but it’s very relevant tonight in Asheville.
Rep. Tim Moffitt (R-Buncombe) waves his fingers slowly in front of voters’ eyes and says softly,
“You shouldn’t be concerned about owning water systems. These aren’t the revenues you’re looking for.” [snark]
The AC-T reports:
Black Mountain aldermen have condemned a state seizure of the Asheville water system, joining a growing chorus of towns and cities hoping to derail a forced merger.
The aldermen voted unanimously at a special called Friday meeting to condemn any merger mandated by the General Assembly of the water system with Buncombe County’s public sewerage organization.
Black Mountain joins over 40 North Carolina cities and towns from Murphy to Manteo in stating for the record that the state takeover of municipal water system and public utilities sets a “dangerous precedent.” Asked for comment, Moffitt told the paper municipalities shouldn’t be concerned about owning water systems.
Republicans will regret merging water system, MSD, writes Steve Rasmussen in the new Mountain Xpress.
If Reps. Tim Moffitt, Chuck McGrady and the NC General Assembly succeed in expropriating Asheville’s water system, the mandated merger with MSD will lead to more urban sprawl, Rasmussen predicts, once control of water and sewer line extension is in the hands of a regional authority. The move will spawn a political arms race on a new battlefield for developers and smart growth supporters. Rasmussen writes,
Crowded, contentious public hearings will routinely overflow MSD’s meeting room. Green activists will accuse board members of rubber-stamping applications from greedy out-of-state developers; tea party activists will claim the board is conspiring with the U.N. to impose Agenda 21. Brutal political machinations will ensue, fueled by costly fundraising campaigns to elect city council members, town aldermen and county commissioners who’ll make the board appointments each side wants. In comparison, the intergovernmental bickering that tore apart our Regional Water Agency a decade ago will look like a backyard pool party.
Messrs. Moffitt and McGrady send their regrets.
From North Carolina’s The Answer to Annexation is Confiscation Department.
The Independent Weekly of Raleigh asks whether the bill being drafted by NC state Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson, to strip Asheville of its $170 million water system might have statewide implications.
Several towns in North Carolina, including Butner, have passed resolutions opposing the legislation because it “sets a dangerous precedent that will have a chilling effect on any local government investing in infrastructure.”
“It is pretty clear state government has that power,” says Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton. “They have the ultimate say over what we do. This is obviously highly concerning.”
At press time Tuesday night, the town was considering a resolution opposing the bill.
For his part, McGrady says his confiscation bill cosponsored by Rep. Tim Moffitt, R-Buncombe, has “no statewide implications,” but that “somebody could decide it’s what they want anywhere.” The Independent replies, “That sounds like a statewide implication to us.”
The Independent Weekly quotes somebody named Barry Waters as a source on this story. Anybody know the guy?
Read more here.
(Cross-posted from BlueNC.)
A dozen North Carolina cities and towns within the last few weeks have passed, considered or scheduled votes to approve the nonpartisan NC League of Municipalities resolution against “forced taking” of municipal infrastructure by the state.
The resolutions are in response to a N.C. House bill proposed by Rep Tim Moffitt (R, Buncombe) forcing a state takeover of the Asheville water system, transferring it to a regional water authority created and ultimately controlled by the legislature. Asheville passed its resolution December 11, after 86 percent of voters rejected the takeover in a November referendum. An online petition opposing the move has collected 1,500 signatures in under a week. All other communities listed but Concord are a fraction of Asheville’s size. You wonder why they feel vulnerable? The NC League of Municipalities resolution states, in part,
… forced taking of any local government infrastructure because such taking sets a dangerous precedent that will have a chilling effect on any local government investing in needed infrastructure in the future, thereby endangering business opportunities and economic stability in the State and resulting in job losses for our citizens here and across the State.
Hendersonville’s city council postponed its resolution vote on January 3 after Rep. Chuck McGrady (R, Henderson, author of the “takings” bill) warned that a passing resolution would “not be helpful for Hendersonville.”
Not all cities post the results of their votes, but here are the links to cities that have or will consider opposing the “forced taking” legislation.
UPDATE: ISSUE TABLED JAN 10
UPDATE: PASSED JAN 3
UPDATE: PASSED JAN 7
PASSED JAN 7
PASSED JAN 8
UPDATE: PASSED JAN 8
PASSED THIS WEEK
UPDATE: PASSED JAN 11
Scheduled JAN 15
saveourwaterwnc.com Monday hit the airwaves with a radio ad attacking the “cattle barons” behind the threatened city water system merger as Pat McCrory made his first visit to Asheville as governor. Signatures to an online petition condemning the water system seizure accelerated in number, approaching a thousand Monday night.
The AC-T reports on the McCrory visit: McCrory discusses water merger
The new governor promised to act as facilitator in the water merger dispute:
McCrory said he has not made up his mind about what should happen with the water system, though he said, “We’ve got to develop a long-term fix, and it can’t be just the state involved in discussion or your local leadership.”
McCrory neither explained who else he believes deserves a place at the table nor what water system problem needs fixing.
In other McCrory news, he made an announcement:
Because Friday night’s not too bad for fighting, either.
NC Legislators & Governor: We Oppose the Forced Taking of Municipal Water Systems!
By Kathie Kline (Contact)
To be delivered to: The North Carolina State House, The North Carolina State Senate, and Governor Beverly Perdue
2) I am opposed to any mandated takeover as it sets a bad precedent for the future of all cities owning and operating municipal assets and undermines the confidence of municipalities to move forward to invest in their systems.
3) I am opposed to any mandated takeover as it calls into question the authority of state legislatures to arbitrarily transfer assets from one local government entity to another.
North Carolina’s General Assembly is about to take the unprecedented step of seizing a municipal-run water system from a City, which in this case has owned & operated it for over 100 years. Members of the NCGA have signaled their intention to introduce legislation in early 2013 that would force the City of Asheville to turn over not only its water distribution system, but control of its pristine 20,000 acre watershed, to the Metropolitan Sewerage District of Buncombe County (MSD). Indications are that the City of Asheville will likely receive no compensation for the taking of these assets.
Asheville’s water customers are the ones who stand to get soaked in next year’s water merger legislation, says the News & Record of Greensboro.
… The measure, pushed by Rep. Tim Moffitt, R-Buncombe, and Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson, was seen as a prelude to a merger. But some critics suspect the ultimate goal is to privatize water services in Asheville. Moffitt and McGrady deny it, but much of this story seems to lie beneath the surface.
Asheville’s objections aren’t unreasonable. Like Greensboro, High Point and most other sizable cities in North Carolina, it has made huge investments in water collection, treatment and delivery. At the very least, its customers and taxpayers deserve fair compensation for what they’ve spent. They are the ones who stand to get a soaking.
Or is that a ducking, Messrs. Moffitt and McGrady?
Utility Governance Study (.pdf)