Ban the Box, June-primary budget amendment set to go before Buncombe County Commissioners

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners has started the budget process for next fiscal year. During its meeting on Tuesday, March 21, 46 nonprofits asked to be a part of that budget.

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners has a decidedly lighter agenda for its upcoming meeting, compared to this month’s previous seven-hour slugfest. The Tuesday, April 19, agenda has no public hearings and only four new business items. Among those issues are amending the budget to pay for June’s Congressional primary and consideration of removing the question regarding a candidate’s criminal past on the county’s hiring application.

New business

County commissioners are set to approve the selection of local artists to construct a sculpture for the new Courthouse Plaza based on images from Pack Library’s North Carolina collection. Staff has no recommendation on this agenda item.

Commissioners will hear a presentation concerning Reynolds High School graduation rates and public transportation that explains, “the need for a public bus route from the current nearest bus stop at River Ridge Shopping Center down HWY 74A to the Reynolds School campus: a distance of 1.9 miles in order to improve graduation rates in the Reynolds School District.” Presenters are asking commissioners to urge the Buncombe County School Board and Asheville City Council to make the proposed route a reality. Based on documents provided by the county, it does not appear the county is being asked for financial support.

Next up will be a budget request stemming from consequences of a lawsuit from voters in Mecklenburg and Durham counties, which caused the 10th and 11th Congressional Districts having to be redrawn. In short, the changing of the aforementioned Congressional Districts caused all North Carolina districts to be redrawn to evenly divide the state, thus creating a delay in Congressional primaries. This affects Buncombe County, as it now must hold an additional primary projected to cost $154,600. The second primary is set for Tuesday, June 7. County staff is recommending approval of the budget amendment.

Finally, commissioners will consider approving a resolution that would remove questions about criminal past on a candidate’s application for employment with Buncombe County. The current application asks,

“Have you ever been convicted of an offense against the law other than a minor traffic violation? (A conviction does not mean you cannot be hired. The offense and how recently you were convicted will be evaluated in relation to the job for which you are applying): If yes please explain fully.”

If approved the measure would eliminate the question, but not the county’s current screening policy. In a letter to commissioners from Curt Euler, the county’s human resources director, he states, “The County recognizes the need to protect its citizens. A criminal background check for all new employees will still be required prior to any final offer of employment. In addition, screening questions will be used for positions where certain criminal convictions would automatically disqualify an applicant from holding the position (i.e., law enforcement and social services caring for vulnerable populations).”

The movement, known as Ban the Box, has been approved by the city of Asheville and has been instituted by Buncombe County’s largest employer, Memorial Mission Hospital. Euler says county approval would “remove a potential barrier that might prevent an otherwise qualified applicant from being selected for an interview and evaluated.”

Board appointments

County commissioners are also set to appoint members to the following boards: Homeless Initiative Advisory Committee, Women’s Commission, Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College and Nursing Home Community Advisory Committee.

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners will meet on Tuesday, April 19 at 4 p.m. The entire agenda can be viewed here.

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About Dan Hesse
I grew up outside of Atlanta and moved to WNC in 2001 to attend Montreat College. After college, I worked at NewsRadio 570 WWNC as an anchor/reporter and covered Asheville City Council and the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners starting in 2004. During that time I also completed WCU's Master of Public Administration program. You can reach me at dhesse@mountainx.com.

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One thought on “Ban the Box, June-primary budget amendment set to go before Buncombe County Commissioners

  1. Lulz

    LOL, why yes let’s not hold anyone to any standards. After all, it’s not like those in government don’t engage in criminal activity anyway. Things like coercion to extortion to outright thievery by everyone from the tax office to the cop on the street who also likes to speed around doing 80 on I-240 while gladly fleecing others for doing the same. LOL, at the government. LOL, that it’s the biggest criminal racket going on today and of course since they write the laws can absolve themselves of the same activity they’ll gladly toss others in prison for.

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