Asheville Daily Planet
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Asheville’s cost of living? Highest of N.C. cities, report says
Thursday, 10 November 2022 22:43

From Staff Reports 


A new report — for yet another year — puts Asheville as the city with the highest cost of living in North Carolina, Asheville television station WLOS (News 13) reported on Oct. 31.

“The report is the result of a survey by C2ER (Council of Community Economic Research), a Virginia-based research firm,” News 13 added. “It confirms the increases in the cost of living in Asheville by looking at housing, food, utilities, transportation and healthcare costs. More so, the report compared those increases in cost of living to other metropolitan areas in North Carolina. The report found that Asheville tops the list.

“Additionally, the report showed that the increase in costs is not mirrored by increases in wages. The report found that the Asheville area ranks fifth among metropolitan areas in the state for wages,” according to News 13.

The Daily Planet emailed Asheville City Manager Debra Campbell — twice — seeking her viewpoint on the highest cost-of-living standing of the “Paris of the South,” but she failed to respond by the newspaper’s mid-morning Nov. 7 deadline.

Meanwhile, the Daily Planet also contacted Mac Swicegood, an Asheville native and long-time and vocal critic of the policies of local elected and appointed leaders, who said Nov. 4 that “it (Asheville’s cost of living) is being exacerbated by decisions that are not being thought through well by the city and the county, primarily the City Council.

“From the citizens’ point of view, you’re not able to get the services for which you are paying. You’ve got city residents not supporting the police department. We’ve had three different police chiefs in less than a decade. When you look at that, it discourages developments that need to be in-fill housing” to provide affordable housing for workers or potential workers.

Further, Swicegood asserted, “Then, you look at first-responders and people working at the hospital — many of them live at Old Fort and other places (relatively distant) outside of Asheville. They can’t (just) ride a bike” to work in Asheville.

What’s more, Swicegood said, “When you look at the downtown streets and the response time needed, it’s going to increase insurance rates.” (Swicegood, 75, has worked as a licensed real estate appraiser and broker for almost 50 years.)

“It all comes back to services. You need to have fire, police, streets — all of the things that need to be addressed. They (city leaders) are not addressing them — instead focusing on ‘frou-frou,’” he said

As for Asheville’s state-leading cost-of-living ranking, Swicegood asked, rhetorically, “So is it more expensive? Yes, it is. When you start looking at diesel fuel, they didn’t want to have trains. Now, you’re doing everything by semis and last time I checked, they all run off diesel.”

Swicegood said that recently he owned a property downtown and “Within nine months, there were 1,293 calls to my address, right beside Pritchard Park — EMS, fire deparment, police department....

“I had vagrants I had to run off — and I had one threaten me....”

At one time, “they (the Asheville Police Department) had 15 officers covering from Pritchard Park all the way south to the airport — almost 20 miles. Right now, they don’t have enough officers even to respond to the problems (around Asheville), much less to take care of the problems.... We’re going to lose,” as a city.

“The things we’re doing now (under City Council’s leadership) are many of the same mistakes made before,” Swicegood said. “The adage that ‘history repeats itself’ is actually true. We’re kind of following the pattern — although the technology has changed — of (Asheville’s) council during the (Great) Depression.”



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