The 411 on City Council: The budget and Vijay Kapoor

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Photo by @ashevillepictures

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ICYMI, City Council has been making headlines lately – like their decision to approve reparations earlier this month, which made national news

This week, Council has been taking up some different issues – and two of the most pressing include the annual budget and the replacement of council member Vijay Kapoor

The budget

On Tues., Council held a meeting to discuss, among other items, the annual budget. The budget vote was postponed from July 9 because of protests and calls to defund the Asheville Police Department. Here are the details – 

  • The budget discussion + public comment period took up most of the meeting time, which ran until almost 11 p.m. Council voted 6-1 to recess until today at 5 p.m., with Keith Young dissenting.
  • Possibilities raised by Council members include: keeping the year’s budget as originally planned (including a funding increase for the APD), and cutting funding to the APD for a trial period of three months. City Manager Debra Campbell said that cutting + reassigning some funding was a top priority, with the goal of a divest/invest strategy in place by Sept. 22. A crowd of demonstrators also gathered downtown during the meeting in support of defunding.
  • Tonight’s meeting will be held remotely, with no public comment.
  • The adopted budget amendment will go into effect Sept. 22

The seat

Also this week, the City Attorney determined that there would be no special election to replace outgoing Council member Vijay Kapoor, whose last day is Aug. 8. Instead, Council will appoint someone to fill the vacancy until the end of Kapoor’s official term in 2022. Here’s why. 

  • Kapoor, who is moving to Philadelphia, was originally planning to leave his seat after the budget decision sometime in July
  • In March, the City released a memo stating that if Kapoor resigned more than 90 days before the election (this November) there would be a special election to fill the vacancy. Kapoor announced his last day would be Aug. 8, within the 90-day period
  • However, as of this week, the City Attorney clarified that there would be no special election regardless of the date of vacancy. Only the state’s charter has a timeline for elections vs. appointments, and the city’s charter trumps the state’s. 

Kapoor has advised Council to appoint a member from South Asheville, where he lives. He is currently the only member of Council from South Asheville.

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