An item on Asheville City Council’s consent agenda calls for permission for the city to reimburse itself for up to $19 million in expenditures. Line items include the controversial $2 million for the Asheville Art Museum, greenways, renovations to city hall, and much, much more. The plan appears to be to let the city spend the money today, and then when it needs a nod from the public for procuring the loan, staff will say the usual, “The money has already been allocated in the budget.”

After this item is approved, the city will hold a public hearing on whether or not it should give another $2.2 million to the Eagle Market Place development. The project has been a money hole for the last couple of decades. Is it any wonder nobody can make subsidized housing work on a plot of prime real estate? Anyway, some of the capital projects to be funded via the consent agenda item do compete for funding from the same money pots the EMP development will be depleting for awhile. To their credit, members of city staff want council to approve the loan with provisions for oversight and as the last ever from the city to the project – but then a future city council could override that.

My unwanted advice would be: If you want something, start small.