A new era in Buncombe County leadership begins Monday, Dec. 5. That’s the day newly elected District 2 Commissioner Martin Moore will take his oath of office and replace incumbent Republican Robert Pressley, making the county Board of Commissioners an entirely Democratic body.
The first meeting agenda Moore will face with his new colleagues is a relatively light one. Budget amendments for various county programs make up most of the board’s business.
The largest amendment would allocate over $309,000 in grant funding from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the county’s COVID-19 vaccination program. The money would continue to pay for mobile outreach operations, contract nurse vaccination staff, medical supplies and advertising until June 30, 2024, or until all the funds are spent, whichever occurs first.
Buncombe has also been allocated over $153,000 in Local Assistance and Tribal Consistency funds through the federal American Rescue Plan Act. The funds are eligible for any governmental purpose other than lobbying, with no expiration date; the county intends to use the money for its Creative Equity Mural Project. Any remaining funds would be used for other public art projects.
Additionally, board members will hold a public hearing on an application for grant funding for Mountain Mobility, the county’s transportation system. The system provides transportation for older and disabled residents, as well as some connectivity services for the general public outside of the city of Asheville.
The application seeks about $1.88 million in federal and state funds to purchase new transit vehicles, propane conversion kits and on-board camera systems. Buncombe would have to provide about $209,000 in matching funds to qualify for the money.
In other news
Commissioners will hear a presentation from accounting firm CliftonLarsonAllen LLP on the year end audit for fiscal year 2021-22, which ended in June. This year marks the fifth consecutive audit completed by the Minneapolis-based firm; its first audit, for fiscal year 2017-18, extensively examined the county’s fiscal practices after the indictment of former County Manager Wanda Greene.
The most recent audit, as outlined in documents available prior to the meeting, resulted in an “unmodified opinion” for the county, indicating that Buncombe’s financial reporting followed all applicable accounting standards. The only issue identified was some missing documentation for an unspecified vendor the county had paid using coronavirus relief funds.
Consent agenda and public comment
The board’s consent agenda for the meeting contains 11 items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. That agenda includes the following highlights:
- Approval of a roughly $211,000 contract to prepare for the demolition of the Haynes Tower on A-B Tech’s Enka campus. Asheville-based Civil Design Concepts will provide demolition design services, check for hazardous materials such as asbestos, ensure all utilities are disconnected and prepare documents that will be used to help select a demolition contractor.
- Updating the description, requirements, and guidelines for the county’s Affordable Housing Services Program. The original guidelines were created in 2004. At its November meeting, the county’s Affordable Housing Committee requested that the document be updated.
- Authorizing an easement agreement for a new sewer line on Jacob Holm Way in Enka. New warehouses are being constructed on the site, requiring the Metropolitan Sewerage District District to expand sewer service through county-owned land.
The full agenda and supporting documents for the regular meeting can be found at this link. Prior to the regular meeting, commissioners will hold a briefing at 3 p.m. to discuss an increase to the county’s waste disposal contract, plans for conservation easement projects and other matters.
In-person public comment will be taken at the start of the regular meeting, which begins at 5 p.m. in room 326 at 200 College St., Asheville; no voicemail or email comments will be permitted. Both the briefing and the regular meeting will be livestreamed on the county’s Facebook page and will subsequently be available via YouTube.