At their May 17 meeting the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners heard a report from County Manager Wanda Greene on the fiscal year 2011-2012 budget. Greene estimates the budget at almost $303 million, a 1.7 percent increase over last fiscal year. The county was able to reduce expenditures by $7.9 million by implementing reduction plans submitted by different county departments, which included eliminating 93 county positions.
Still, expenditures are expected to increase due to the construction of two new intermediate schools, a state-mandated increase in the retirement system contribution, income maintenance caseload growth and state budget shifts in social services, funding for health insurance, workers compensation and unemployment claims, debt service for the Courthouse Phase II project, fuel contingency and recycling expenditures shifting from solid waste. Also included in new expenditures is $150,000 for a compensation study to ensure that the county has balance in its compensation to staff and Commissioners.
Both sales and property taxes, which make up the bulk of county revenue, were relatively flat for the year with sales tax revenues decreasing slightly and property tax revenues increasing slightly, Greene reported. No tax increases are in this year’s budget. According to Greene, this is the fifth consecutive year the county has proposed a budget with no tax increases.
Commissioners voted unanimously to hold a public hearing on the proposed budget at their next meeting on June 7.
At the meeting Commissioners also:
• Heard a report on the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office fiscal year 2011-2012 budget. The Sheriff’s Office is asking for an additional $1.4 million over last fiscal year, $1.25 million of which is what the office calls “inflationary added costs” associated with insurance increases and salary increases for longer-serving officers. The Sheriff’s Office is also asking for $197,762 in funding for part-time positions.
• Heard a report from the Nursing Home Community Advisory Committee. The committee says that the county’s nursing home residents have complained about the resident-to-staff ratio being too low. The committee also reported that area nursing homes are “dumping” problem residents to the hospital in order to discharge them without due process required by legislated rights.
• Unanimously approved a social-media policy for Buncombe County employees, volunteers, consultants, service providers, and contractors performing business on behalf of a county agency or department. The policy establishes rules for behavior for social-media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, and it restricts employees from acting on behalf of and representing Buncombe County on social media-sites without approval of the county manager and public relations director.
• Approved several board appointments. Bob Jolly, Tony Candler, and Michelle Pugliese were reappointed to the Environmental Advisory Board, and J. Ray Elingburg was appointed to the Historic Resources Commission.