Wake County Superior Court Judge Howard Manning Jr. is hearing arguments this morning on the parties’ motions for judgement in the dispute over the Asheville city water system – one of a number of turf wars between the state and local authorities arising from the General Assembly’s 2013 long session. (The Charlotte airport and the Dorothea Dix park in Raleigh are also in play.)
In May 2013, the General Assembly created the Metropolitan Water and Sewage District and immediately transferred Asheville’s water system to that district. The city then filed a lawsuit in Wake County and obtained a temporary injunction from Manning. After further arguments by attorneys, Manning extended that injunction in September.
A ruling in the case will have obvious implications for the city, but it may also touch more broadly on the question of municipal self-rule. Cities across the state and the League of Municipalities agree with Asheville that the state is treading on dangerous ground when it comes to concepts of local rule.
In this issue brief, the league noted these points:
- Local communities should decide how to meet the water/wastewater needs of a local area, and how to pay for those investments – not lawmakers in Raleigh.
- Cities should be able to operate water/wastewater enterprises like a business, without external interference from the state legislature. Decisions over rates, extensions, financing, and service should all be left to the discretion of system owners.
- Intrusive legislative decisions impacting individual water/wastewater systems disrupt predictable rate structures for existing customers.
Watch below as Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer explains the case and its impact to residents at a meeting earlier this year.
Read more here about the Asheville and Charlotte lawsuits.