Over $40 million in upgrades could be coming to a number of schools in Asheville and Buncombe County if the request from the School Capital Fund Commission is approved at the Tuesday, Nov. 7, Buncombe County Board of Commissioners meeting.
In this year’s proposal, nearly $9.4 million would benefit Asheville City Schools, with the majority going to campuswide upgrades at Hall Fletcher Elementary. The West Asheville elementary school would receive roughly $6.9 million for a new HVAC system, window replacements, kitchen renovation and elevator upgrade, according to staff documents.
Asheville Middle School would get about $2.4 million for a replacement track.
Buncombe County Schools would get more than $31 million for projects ranging from new bus bays to a systemwide upgrade to network infrastructure.
All projects recommended represent high- or top-priority projects, according to the staff presentation.
The county would issue debt for the projects, which would be paid back with revenue from the article 39 sales tax, projected by county staff to raise about $30 million annually for the next five years.
In addition to debt carried over from the last fiscal year, approval of these projects would result in a total of $94 million in debt for Buncombe County, which could result in $40 million in interest over 20 years, according to the staff presentation.
Homeward Bound seeks more funds for housing project
Homeward Bound is requesting $195,000 in additional grant funding from Buncombe County for completion of its Compass Point Village, a permanent supportive housing project located at the former Days Inn on Tunnel Road.
The project has already received $3 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds from the county. Meanwhile, Dogwood Health Trust loaned the agency $1.1 million to cover additional funding gaps. According to an Oct. 10 letter to the city and county, David Nash, interim executive director of Homeward Bound, notified officials that the nonprofit required an additional $390,000 to complete renovations. In the letter, he proposed the two municipalities split the cost.
Commissioners recently reallocated the remainder of its COVID-recovery funds, including setting aside a total of $3.8 million for housing and shelter needs. The county has sufficient funding to cover the latest request in its Affordable Housing Services Program, but this project would not be eligible for a grant from that fund, according to staff documents.
Alternatively, staff suggested the project could apply for a construction loan through the AHSP program, which opens in December.
The consent agenda for the meeting contains seven items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include the following:
- Approval of an interfund transfer of $69,300 from the sustainability department to pair with a federal grant of almost $81,000 to purchase two new battery storage facilities at county facilities where solar is installed. No new funds are required.
- Acceptance of a Building Resilient Infrastructure in Communities grant from FEMA of $217,390 for the Land of Sky Regional Council to conduct a study used to plan for future floods, wildfires and landslides.
- Approval of a partnership with MedTrust, a mobile health care organization, to operate convalescent, interfacility and nonemergency ambulance service in Buncombe County.
The full agenda and supporting documents for the regular meeting can be found at this link. Prior to that meeting, the commissioners will hold a 3 p.m. briefing.
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.