Press release from Buncombe County:
Following the approval of an interlocal agreement for the Community Reparations Commission Audit by the City of Asheville and Buncombe County Government, the Carter Development Group has been selected to conduct a “Stop the Harm” audit on the internal and external programs for both agencies. The audit was recommended by the Community Reparations Commission at its Dec. 5, 2022 meeting. The interlocal agreement shares the contract cost of $174,375 between the two agencies. The Cease the Harm Audit will be funded through the dollars designated for Reparations.
The scope of the contract includes an audit of internal and external services for both the City of Asheville and Buncombe County, guarantees that the cessation of harm to the African American community has actually occurred, confirms whether the City of Asheville and Buncombe County are in compliance with federal and state laws, regulatory bodies, codes of conduct, court orders and consent decrees, and more.
The Carter Development Group, headed by Dr. Adrian Carter, has more than 20 years of experience and former clients include Town of Brookline (MA), University of Washington (WA), Broward County Schools (FL), Arlington Independent School District (TX), and more.
“When trying to advance racial equity, organizations often tend to look from present forward,” said Buncombe Assistant County Manager DK Wesley. “The truth is that our institutions are very old, which means that we have policies, procedures, and programs that were built with no equity lens and were possibly intentionally designed to disadvantage. That’s why this audit is so important – it allows us to stop, look at where we are as well as back from where we came so we can forge a more equitable future. We welcome this objective evaluation by Carter Development.”
City of Asheville Equity and Inclusion Director Brenda Mills added: “The City of Asheville welcomes this audit. The Office of Equity and Inclusion was fully staffed in March of 2022 as part of the city’s commitment to maximizing access and opportunities for all people to satisfy essential needs, advance their well-being and achieve their full potential. Any review that helps us achieve our goal of understanding, analyzing, and eliminating the root causes of racial disparities, and advancing equitable policies, practices, and procedures is a welcomed and deliberate step forward for our community.”
Carter echoed his firm’s commitment to the audit process: “This audit marks a historic undertaking by the City of Asheville and Buncombe County. The level of transparency and vulnerability involved in this project demonstrates compassion for the African American community members and models authentic leadership in governance. Our firm is honored to be involved in this process. To dismantle deeply entrenched systems of inequity, it takes compassionate leaders who are unwavering in their dedication to end harm. We share in that commitment and look forward to undertaking this meaningful work. We believe that our collective efforts pave the way for a stronger, more inclusive future where every voice is heard, and every life is valued.”
The Carter Development Group will begin work Aug. 1, 2023. A report of preliminary findings is expected by the end of December, 2023. The contract runs through April 30, 2024.