By Brooke Dougherty
Security, technology and a better place to play tennis: All are included among nearly $31.2 million in capital spending for local schools recommended by Buncombe County’s School Capital Fund Commission. The county Board of Commissioners is scheduled to vote on accepting those recommendations during its regular meeting Tuesday, Nov. 1.
Buncombe County Schools would receive the bulk of the money, about $20.6 million, including the largest single allocation of $6.4 million for “tech infrastructure upgrades.” Reynolds High School would also receive $3.2 million for athletics facilities, with $1.8 million toward a track replacement and $1.4 million toward tennis courts.
Asheville City Schools would get just over $10.6 million. Over $4.4 million would go toward completing heating, ventilation and air conditioning work at Lucy S. Herring Elementary. Another $5.3 million would support work on the main auditorium at Asheville High School.
Other projects include safety and security upgrades, gym bleachers and lighting, water and sewer lines, window replacement, reroofing, fire alarm replacement, an energy management system and paving. Funding for the work will come from county bonds, to be repaid using the specifically designated Article 39 sales tax.
Board to consider affordable parking program
Commissioners are scheduled to vote on creating an Affordable Parking Program at the county’s Coxe Avenue garage. As previously reported by Xpress, the initiative had been discussed at a Sept. 6 board briefing after Asheville Food and Beverage United, a service industry advocacy group, had pushed for free or low-cost parking for downtown workers.
During that meeting, the commissioners requested that additional input from the community be gathered via survey. That survey, presented to the board Oct. 18, received over 600 responses, with 66% in favor of creating the program.
The current parking proposal is “designed to provide financial assistance for downtown parking to area residents who earn 80% or less of the area median income.” Applicants could qualify for a $40 monthly parking pass after providing proof of income and employment.
A total of 150 parking spaces would be made available at the lower rate. However, over 400 survey respondents said they would “likely apply” for the program. Commissioners must decide whether to award spaces to applicants on a first-come, first-served basis or via lottery.
Consent agenda and public comment
The board’s consent agenda for the meeting contains five items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. In addition to the routine approval of previous meeting minutes, the agenda includes the following highlights:
- Approval of Buncombe’s tax collection report for September. As of Sept. 30, the county had collected 14.22% of the taxes levied for fiscal year 2022-23, up slightly from the 14.04% collected as of the same date last fiscal year.
- Approval of a $1.19 million construction contract with C&T Paving for improvements to county parking lots. Work will take place at 11 sites, including four county libraries, Hominy Park and the Buncombe County Sports Park
The full agenda and supporting documents for the regular meeting can be found at this link. Prior to the regular meeting, the board will hold a briefing at 3:00 p.m. to discuss a residential waste diversion study 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. in Asheville; no voicemail or email comments will be permitted. Both the briefing and regular meeting will be livestreamed on the county’s Facebook page and will subsequently be available via YouTube.