Commissioners commit funding to strategic priorities, hold tax rate with approved budget

Press release from Buncombe County:

Increased spending on education and prioritizing community needs and strategic priorities are a hallmark of Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) budget approved the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners on June 21. The spending plan includes a nearly 12% increase of funding for K-12 schools and A-B Tech along with almost $4 million for early education while holding the current property tax rate of 48.8 cents. The $398,135,568 budget also prioritizes environmental stewardship with $4 million tabbed for solar projects and invests in resident well-being with more than $500,000 for recreation projects.

The approved budget also includes updates to the Homeowner Grant program that is intended for homeowners with less than $60,000 of liquid resources. The application process will be open July 1-September 30. Eligibility has changed from the previous year’s program, extending to mobile homeowners who have owned their homes as a primary residence for at least five years. Property owners with multiple properties that have dwellings and those who receive any other tax deferment or tax reduction to include land usage deferments are ineligible for the program. “I would like to express appreciation to the staff that worked hard on development of the budget… I know it was a lot of work and an ongoing process throughout the year,” noted Commission Chair Brownie Newman. “We’ve had multiple works sessions, financial forecasts… and looked at how to stretch taxpayer dollars to address priorities… and maintain current property tax rate. It’s always a lot of hard decisions, and I appreciate staff presenting options.”

The FY23 budget supplements community survey results and 2025 Strategic Plan goals focused on the following community- and foundational-focused areas:

Educated and capable community

  • $104.9 million for education partners with a 10.9% increase for K-12 and A-B Tech
  • $3.82 million for early childhood education

Environmental and energy stewardship

  • $4 million for solar projects
  • $1.6 million for alternatively fueled vehicles

Resident well-being

  • $564,146 for recreation projects
  • $326,055 worth of additional investment for the Community Paramedicine program

Vibrant economy

  • $4.3 million for economic development programs
  • $2.3 million for affordable housing support

Equity, operational excellence

  • 63 new positions for 23 departments
  • $5.1 million for implementation of the compensation study
  • $2 million for reparations

Revenue breakdown

The vast majority of the budget comes from property taxes. The following is a breakdown of most of the revenue sources:

Property tax: 63% or $240.3 million
Intergovernmental: 12% or $45.6 million
Local option sales tax: 12% or $47.8 million
Sales and services: 5% or $17.9 million

Additional money comes from additional taxes and licenses, permits and fees, interfund transfers, and other sources of revenue.

Expenditure breakdown

Education, human services, and public safety are the three largest areas of spending for the proposed spending plan. The education funding would bring all locally funded Buncombe County Schools employees to a $15/hour minimum or provide a 2.5% pay increase while also helping reduce salary compression issues. The following shows a breakdown of expenditures:

Education: 27% or $109.2 million

  • A-B Tech: $7.7 million
  • Asheville City Schools: $15.3 million
  • Buncombe County Schools: $81.9 million

Pre-k funding and various education support contracts: $4.3 million

Human services: 23% or $91.5 million
Public safety: 21% or $82.7 million
General government: 17% or $67.7 million
Debt: 5% or $19.1 million
Economic and physical development: 2% or $8.8
Cultural and recreational: 2% or $9.9 million
Other financing sources: 3% or $10.3 million

Capital projects

County staff recommends seven capital projects for FY23 at a total of $16.5 million. Those projects include:

Emergency Services base construction: $7,250,000 (debt)
Public Safety Training Center generator: $230,000 (capital funds)
Comprehensive Facility Assessment plan renovations and repairs: $4,010,000 (debt)
Library renovations and repairs: $691,654 (capital funds)
Recreation Services master plan: $200,000 (capital funds)
Electric vehicle charging infrastructure: $120,000 (capital funds)
Solar panel installations for schools and public buildings: $4,000,000 (debt)

Recommended tax rates

Only three tax rate adjustments have been requested, and County staff only recommends approving one of those for the FY23 budget.

Asheville City Schools

Current rate: 10.62
Requested rate: 12.00
Approved rate: 10.62

Barnardsville fire district

Current rate: 20.00
Requested rate: 22.00
Approved rate: 22.00

Skyland fire district

Current rate: 9.80
Requested rate: 10.30
Approved rate: 9.80

You can learn more about FY23 spending plan with the Budget in Brief.

Next steps:

A public hearing for economic development-related appropriations is scheduled for July 19. No funding will be expended until the public hearing is held and appropriations are approved. Examples of proposed budgetary funding for nonprofits in the FY23 budget include:

Economic Development Partners

Strategic Partnership Grants

Recreation Program Grants

Affordable Housing Grants

Early Childhood Development

Juvenile Crime Prevention

Aging Services

Isaac Coleman

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