Buncombe County Manager Wanda Greene is recommending commissioners hold the tax rate steady this year and borrow $44.3 million for a new downtown Asheville building addition and parking deck.
Her budget proposal, which she’ll present to the board of commissioners Tuesday, June 3, calls for keeping the county-wide property tax rate at 60.4 cents per $100 of value. That rate includes a 3.5 cent levy dedicated to funding programs managed by the Culture and Recreation Authority, a government agency created last year to oversee the county’s libraries, parks and recreational facilities.
The $280.3 million budget cuts overall expenses slightly, shaving $1.4 million (or .5 percent) off of last year’s total. Due in large part to a drop in overall property values, last year’s budget was funded by a 15 percent tax increase.
One of this year’s biggest new proposals is construction of a major addition to the county’s Health and Human Services facility at 40 Coxe Avenue in downtown Asheville. The $44.3 million project would include a 650-space parking garage and a 49,000 square-foot addition to the building.
In addition to providing parking for county employees, the garage would serve the general public on evenings and weekends. The surrounding South Slope neighborhood is seeing rapid growth, with several restaurants, breweries and other commercial developments in the works.
Also at the top of Greene’s capital project list is building a new $6.5 million indoor pool at the Zeugner Center, next to Roberson High School at 90 Springside Road.
The plan also calls for providing about $67.9 million to local schools this year – about $2.38 million more than last year.
In addition, the Culture and Recreation Authority is requesting $1.17 million to distribute to local nonprofits and government agencies.
Greene balances the budget by dipping into the county’s reserve fund for $6.5 million. However, it’s unlikely the county will end up actually spending that amount: the plan also calls on county departments to find ways of saving that amount of money over the next year.
Commissioners must finalize any budget decisions by June 30. The 2015 fiscal year year begins the next day, July 1.
The board will meet at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, June 3, in the commissioner’s chambers, located at 200 College St., suite 326. A short pre-meeting review of the agenda will begin at 4:15 p.m.