At this week’s Nov. 16 meeting, Buncombe County Commissioners are scheduled to discuss a new workforce housing incentive proposal, take action on a conservation easement request, and hear a report on the county’s finances.
The housing incentive policy was drafted in response to a request last month by Frontier Syndicate for $1.8 million in tax breaks for its Montford Commons work-force-housing development. During their Oct. 26 session, several board members showed enthusiasm for the project, but told the developer that they weren’t comfortable granting the request without first drafting a guiding policy.
Since then, county staff have prepared a policy that defines workforce housing as housing that a family with an income of up to 140 percent of the area’s median income can afford without spending more than 30 percent of their income on mortgage payments (including insurance and taxes). The idea is to provide subsidies to developers who create housing for workers such as police officers, nurses and teachers who may have trouble finding adequate housing if they have incomes between $44,300 and $77,560. The new policy defines fair market workforce rent as $504 for an efficiency, $589 for a one-bedroom, $672 for a two-bedroom, and $900 for a three-bedroom unit.
The proposal would give the county a variety of incentives to encourage new housing developments, including grants, tax breaks and deferred construction loans. The incentives would be considered on a case-by-case basis and would require qualifying developments to offer at least 100 units of workforce housing that could only be rented to full-time residents of Buncombe County.
Next on the agenda is a request by Edith Fortune for the county to cover or waive the transaction costs of a conservation easement deal that would preserve 78 acres of pasture and woodlands in the Upper Broad River Community. The costs are estimated at $14,000; the land includes several streams that are part of the headwaters to the Broad River. The site is now being leased for cattle and hay, and under the easement, could still be used for farming.
The board will also consider the county’s state-mandated annual finance report, which will be used to help shape next year’s budget. The audit found that at the end of the last fiscal year in June, the county had a fund balance of $158.5 million, an increase of $28.1 million over the prior year. However, a large portion of that money (about $81.5 million) has already been designated for continuing activities and capital expenditures such as courthouse, landfill and DSS improvements.
The board will meet at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 16, in the commissioner’s chambers, located at 30 Valley St. A short pre-meeting review of the agenda will begin at 4:15 p.m.