I support Commissioners Brownie Newman and Jasmine Beach-Ferrara’s calls for the occupancy tax to be used for community needs vs. more tourism marketing [“Commissioners Approve $4.9M for Pre-K Expansion, Affordable Housing,” May 11, Xpress]. There is plenty of tourism! We don’t need any more marketing to bring more tourists here. It has served its purpose. Now we need to use that revenue more wisely.
There is no greater need than to address climate change, which has undoubtedly adversely affected our beautiful city with more rainfall and flooding each year. We are so close to the 2030 (50%) and 2050 (200%) deadlines. [ipcc.ch], and I don’t see us talking about or doing enough to get us there. As Asheville’s tourism and mass migrations have a negative impact on our infrastructure, we need to focus on innovative ways that we can prepare for and protect against flooding. We should also invest in better transportation and roads (more buses and electrify everything).
And then there is the clean-energy transition and the affordable housing crisis (social justice component) that could be addressed as one if we were to funnel the revenue into sustainable, energy-efficient buildings that don’t require an energy bill. Imagine that! Then our citizens could spend money on the things they need the most — like food, health and fun times! Go Asheville!
— Steffi Rausch
Coordinator for Energy Savers Network operations
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