The Community Reparations Commission unanimously passed their first motion on May 23rd and then confirmed it on June 6, requesting that both Asheville and Buncombe County allocate money to a Reparations Fund in their budgets this year, and declare the intention for this to continue in future budgets. The Asheville City Manager has responded to this request and will propose at the Tuesday, June 14th City Council meeting that the Reparations allocation for this year increase by $135,000, for a total of $500,000. In addition, she will suggest that the City plan to continue that level of funding with future budgets.
We think the City can afford more for Reparations (see below), but what’s even more urgent right now is for the Buncombe County Commission to make their future budgetary intentions known. Will they follow the example of the City and designate Reparations as an ongoing funding priority, perhaps with an annual goal that matches their planned allocation this year of $2 million? Here is a template you can adapt and use to contact them.
If you prefer to copy and paste, here is the text we are suggesting:
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: The Reparations Commission Needs to Hear from You
Dear County Commission Members,
I’m sure you’ve heard about the formal request from the Community Reparations Commission on Monday, May 23, which was confirmed at the next meeting on June 6th. They’re asking you to include Reparations funding in this year’s budget, and to commit to doing so with future budgets. The Asheville City Manager has responded to this request by increasing funding for Reparations this year, and designating Reparations as an ongoing funding priority for future budgets.
Will you advise your Budget Department to include at least $500,000 for Reparations in future base budgets, subject to financial feasibility and eventual final budget approval from the County Commission? I urge you to take this important step toward justice and healing.
Thank you for your time and service,
The RJC did an analysis of the past ten years of City Council and Buncombe County budgets, and found that the City and County could have set aside $42 million during that time for Reparations, without pulling money from other priorities or draining their reserve funds. Going forward, assuming that both budgets grow at a similar pace, they could pledge $321 million to Reparations over the next 13 years, once again without having to sacrifice other programs or dropping below the required fund balance. These numbers are speculative and approximate, but the point is that both the City and County have money they could be setting aside for Reparations right now and into the future. Doing so would send a powerful message to both the Community Reparations Commission and the communities they serve: that Asheville and Buncombe County are serious about paying their Reparations debt.
For more information on the Community Reparations Commission, check out their webpage.