The water battle in Ashvegas just hit the boiling point today.
It’s been simmering since last year, when Ashvegas City Council said it wanted out of an agreement that rules a regional water authority. Council is in with Buncombe and Henderson county commissioners.
City and County have never really gotten along. But the only other issue that’s generated heat like this has been annexation. At stake is millions of dollars in revenue and the power to direct development.
Oh, and control of three-quarters of a billion dollars worth of water pipes, reservoirs and pumping stations. Can’t forget that.
The two sides have gone through the motions of negotiation, but it’s gone nowhere.
So today, Mayor Worley ripped off a letter that, while cleverly veiled in lawyer-speak, offers no room for negotiation. He even throws in a couple of cheap shots, like accusing the county of not giving a damn about poor, inner-city residents.
Not that the county didn’t deserve a little nick. Ramsey and company posted their propaganda on their Web site and on a big sign on the front of their College Street recreation department office. The city hasn’t been outdone, of course, using the Web for its own purposes, as well.
But in another maneuver revealed today, Buncombe’s state House members served notice that they’ll step up if the city and county can’t make a deal. The deadline is June 30th, by the way.
Reps. Goforth, Sherrill and Fisher sponsored a blank bill holding a spot for Ashvegas water authority legislation. No word on what that could be, but it’s sure one to watch.
All this has more than a few people freaked out. Worley sees a county conspiracy aimed at torpedoing his chances at winning re-election later this year. The county sees its fortunes being flushed down the toilet. And some city and county government workers are worried about how this might affect their jobs, because a whole lot more than water is tied up in this 30-year-old pact about ready to dissolve.
My solution – merge city and county governments. It’s long overdue.
Plenty more on this to come.