Commissioners approve closing out COVID-19 grant funds and provide funding for land conservation easements and 911 operations projects

Press release from Buncombe County

Following a public hearing, the Board of Commissioners approved closing CDBG Coronavirus funds for the grant that provided more than $495,780 in funds to the County. Buncombe County was awarded $900,000 through the CDBG Coronavirus Program in December 2020. With these funds, the County was able to provide mortgage and/or utility assistance to 206 households.

The grant period ended in June 2023 and $404,212 in funds have not been expended. This is in part due to guidelines that reduced the number of potential eligible recipients as the public health emergency ended. Factors that affected grant disbursements included the implementation of the local Mortgage Assistance Program, the time allocated for the County to access the funds, a co-occurrence of other COVID-related economic assistance programs, and the ineligibility of City of Asheville residents to receive funds. Click here to view the presentation.

To learn about how Buncombe County is using other COVID-19 funds, visit this dashboard.

Budget Amendment for Conservation Easements

Commissioners approved a budget amendment to establish two conservation easement projects using Open Space Bond funds. The projects include:

·       Parham-Fortner Farm – About 30 acres of land in the Farm Heritage Trail on South Turkey Creek Road in Leicester for $150,000.

·       Lake Eden Preserve – About 336 acres of land serving as a backdrop to the Lake Eden Arts Festival in Swannanoa for $250,000.

With these two conservations, Buncombe County is now 1,049 acres away from meeting its goal of protecting 20% of the County by 2030. These projects are the first funded using the conservation easement bucket of the Open Space Bond. View the presentation here.

“I’m very excited to see these two projects, because this is exactly the reason for these bond funds.” said Commissioner Terri Wells. “Both of these projects really speak to the benefit of what these bond funds can do.”

All conservation easement projects must meet eligibility criteria including being in a designated farmland priority region, having proximity to other protected lands, having the existence of prime, unique, or local agricultural soils, scenic importance, and more.

To learn more about conservation easements, visit the Farmland Preservation Program website.

Budget Amendment for 911 Operations

Commissioners approved a budget amendment for 911 Operations to appropriate $1,027,946 from the 911 Fund Balance for projects that support operations and improve the work environment. This includes $232,750 for primary and backup 911 Center recorder replacements, $618,974 for furniture/console replacement, and $176,222 for emergency communications software. View the budget amendment here.

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