A state representative says a rewritten bill that passed the NC State House unanimously last week creating a separate authority to oversee parks and recreation does not have the power to tax county residents.
Local House Bill 418, which was reported on last week by the Tribune, would be funded by the Buncombe County Commissioners only with what money that could be raised from the property tax evaluation and from any agreement they might enter into with other municipalities such as the City of Asheville, Town of Weaverville or other small governments inside the county.
Representative Ramsey said several different options have been rewritten into the bill, and the bill was meant to consolidate and make local government more efficient.
Asked if this bill was the beginning of a metro type government, Ramsey responded, “No, not really.” He went on to explain there was no support for a metro government in the county or city. “I don’t think we’ll see that in my life time.”
Asked if he saw the bill creating bigger government and less accountability, Ramsey said, “You can argue that it’s more accountable.”
The original bill sponsored by Ramsey (R-District 115) and Representative Tim Moffitt (R-District 116) would have created an authority that would oversee the operations of city and county parks and provide funding for their facilities. County and city parks and recreational assets would be signed over to the new board with members appointed by the city and county.
According to Ramsey, the rewritten bill may or may not ever be exercised by the county and only includes the county. If the county wishes to pursue the creation of the authority, it can and has the power to make agreements between the board and any other municipalities in the county.
While the rewritten bill has no taxing authority, Ramsey said the funding for the board would come from the county commissioners who could increase property rates and from any agreement that the board made with other city and town governments in the county. The board would still take possession of recreational and park properties from the county and any other municipality it has agreements with.
The original bill also called for a seven member board with three appointed by Asheville and three appointed by Buncombe County and the seventh, a joint appointment by both governing bodies. At least one city council member and one county commission member would be appointed to the authority, but doesn’t limit it to only one.
The rewritten bill would allow that to be expanded to accommodate other municipalities who might want to join the board. It also now calls for, if Asheville agrees to join the board, three members to be appointed by Asheville and four to be appointed by Buncombe County.