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Ask Matt ... about big bear, business taxes, airport parking

The Lightning's intrepid researcher Matt Matteson answers readers' questions on matters great and small.


Q. What percentage of the city revenue is paid by business and how does this compare to same size cities?

I pulled numbers from a report of assessed value for the City of Hendersonville for FY 2013-14. For simplicity, I compared only the real and personal property business values to residential values and excluded public service values (utilities). I came up with 61.2% of the city tax levy coming from business and industry. City Finance Officer Lisa White indicated that she knows of no central source that lists similar comparisons for different cities. My take is that this figure appears high but commercial properties make a large footprint in the City of Four Seasons with only 13,000 people.

Q. There is one painted bear on Main Street that is bigger than the rest. Where did it come from?

You are correct. He's not your average bear. Standing two feet above its downtown brethren, the broad-shouldered ursine was a long-time fixture at the city's miniature golf course in Boyd Park. Sadly, "Tommy" (his putt-putt name) became so damaged by kids climbing on him that he had to be retired. But after a stint in the city bone yard, Tommy was patched up and relocated downtown. He has since been painted three times and now stands watch at the corner of Fifth and Main. While all the itinerant bears are auctioned off in the fall and leave for permanent homes, Tommy remains year-round.

Q. When did they raise the parking fees at the Asheville Regional Airport and how much money does that bring in? GSP has an economy lot for $4 a day. Can we get one?

Parking fees were last raised at the Asheville Regional Airport in January of 2012. Long-term parking costs $8 a day and short-term is $12.50 a day (week-long parking costs slightly less). The parking facility is owned by the airport authority, which sets the rates, but the operation is contracted. If you compare walking distances from the terminals, Greenville-Spartanburg Airport (GSP) and Asheville have similar rates (GSP has $12 and $8 a day parking garages).
"Western North Carolina is a smaller air service market than upstate South Carolina and the volume of travelers has not yet justified the large expense associated with developing a new parking facility," Asheville Airport Marketing Director Tina Kinsey said. Kinsey added that the sirport's 20-year master plan addresses expanding airport parking.
At larger airports, economy lots are located the farthest away from an airport terminal but if one doesn't mind the trek, significant savings can be had. In 2013, parking generated $2.5 million for the Asheville Regional Airport. My take on this is that four-bucks-a-day economy parking is not on anyone's radar.