At this evening’s Feb. 15 meeting, the members of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to give themselves a pay cut. The move will cut each commissioners’ technology allowance and travel compensation by $12,400 a year per commissioner. It cut their travel allowance by 50 percent (from $650 to $325 bi-weekly) and their technology allowance by 85 percent (from $175 to $25 bi-weekly).
The measure was proposed by County Manager Wanda Greene in the wake of an Asheville Citizen-Times article that reported that the commissioners are among the highest paid in the state.
We’ll have a full report in the Feb. 23 issue of Xpress.
Here’s the preview of this evening’s meeting (first published Feb. 14):
At their Feb. 15 meeting, the members of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners are poised to give themselves a pay cut. The measure comes in the wake of a Feb. 6 Asheville Citizen-Times article that reported that the commissioners are among the highest paid in the state. The revelation sparked a wave of follow up coverage from area media outlets and ignited public criticism.
In response, county staff announced a proposal to cut commissioners’ technology allowance and travel compensation by $12,400 a year per commissioner.
“After gathering data from other cities and counties across the state, the County Manager has prepared a proposal that would reduce the County Commissioners’ travel allowance by 50 percent (from $650 to $325 bi-weekly) and their technology allowance by 85 percent (from $175 to $25 bi-weekly),” read the Feb. 11 announcement. “These cuts, once approved by the Board, will result in a $12,400 reduction per year for each board member.”
Board Chair David Gantt and other commissioners have indicated that they intend to pass the cuts during their Feb. 14 session. The proposal comes “as Buncombe departments prepare a 2012 budget with 10 percent reductions to address the current economic challenges,” according to the announcement.
The commissioners currently receive, on average, more than $41,000 a year, with travel allowances of $650 and a technology allowance of $175 every two weeks making up a significant chunk of the total.
In other business, the board will consider lending its seal of approval to the Western Highlands Network (WHN) so that it can receive a “Medicaid Waiver.” The waiver would allow WHN to manage and authorize all Medicaid behavioral health services in Buncombe, Henderson, Madison, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Transylvania and Yancey Counties. According to WHN, the measure would increase “local control over $130 to $150 million dollars in behavioral health services” and would create 50 new jobs across the eight counties. The WNC Health Network, which represents hospitals across Western North Carolina, has endorsed the measure.
The board will also hear a presentation on co-location in Adult Care Homes.
More than 60 percent of the state’s adult and family care home residents have “a mental illness, intellectual or developmental disabilities, or Alzheimer disease/dementia,” according to a new study by the North Carolina Institute of Medicine, which adds that this can result in serious problems. “The placement of individuals with mental illness, substance abuse problems, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and other disabilities that may result in serious behavioral problems in ACHs can pose a threat to the health and safety of other residents, especially the frail elderly, other people with disabilities, and staff,” it concludes.
Buncombe has more Adult Care Homes than any other county in the state.
The board will meet at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 15, 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.