Buncombe County Commissioners get budget update, face potential shortfall

Nonprofit agencies will make their case for funding from Buncombe County's upcoming budget for Fiscal Year 2018. A total of 46 nonprofits are asking for an aggregate of almost $11 million.

Buncombe County Manager Wanda Greene presented an updated budget proposal to the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, March 22. The proposed budget for fiscal year 2016-17 is still being crafted, but there is potential for expenditures to outpace revenues. Currently, revenues are projected at $300,236,381 with expenditures potentially adding up to $311,021,705, based on current requests. That would mean commissioners would have to make up a nearly $11 million dollar difference.

One big line item in the upcoming budget is costs related to settling wrongful imprisonment lawsuits to the tune of just over $6 million. Those lawsuits were the result of actions by former Sheriff Bobby Medford in 2000, which led to the wrongful imprisonment of four people. Medford is now serving a 15 year sentence in a federal penitentiary for his convictions in 2008 on extortion and corruption charges.

Other budget woes include the loss of about $2 million in federal forfeiture funds. Greene reports she was notified in the past few months that Buncombe County would not be receiving that money, but states the county is not alone in having that funding cease. Buncombe County must also budget $424,313 for general election costs, $286,000 for computer maintenance and licensing fees and $429,246 for a state mandated increase in retirement contribution rate.

In all, mandated costs and unfunded mandates, such as $1,770,329 to open Enka Intermediate School, could create an additional $6,493,092 shortfall. The total proposed budget with those spending requests would be $317,514,797, if all are granted.

Furthermore, Buncombe County still hasn’t received all its requests for funding. Most notably absent are spending requests from Asheville City Schools, Buncombe County Schools and Asheville-Buncombe Technical College. There are also requests that are still being considered, such as $150,000 for animal resource officers, $15,000 for recycling containers in the courthouse, $600,000 for law enforcment vehicle replacement, $250,000 for a new park in Candler, $200,000 for greenway funding, $2 million to restore Eagle and Market Streets and other requests that total $10,571,291. Including all of those requests would bring the total FY 2016-17 budget to $328,086,088.

If all requests are honored, those numbers would create a total shortfall of $27,849,707.

However, Buncombe County does have some relief options. Greene reports the county could delay payment on the Eagle and Market Streets project, sell two properties roughly estimated at a total worth of $7 million and potentially find a buyer for the parcel of land previously reserved for Deschutes Brewery’s proposed expansion that fell through. Some relief might also come in the form of holiday sales tax; those figures are slated to be released to officials sometime in April. And, ultimately, Commissioners can also say no to various projects they believe the county can’t afford.

Buncombe County Commissioners will hold at least three more budget workshops as staff continues to consider revenue and expenditure options. There will also be a chance for the public to weigh in on the budget at future meetings. The current fiscal year ends June 30.

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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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6 thoughts on “Buncombe County Commissioners get budget update, face potential shortfall

  1. Lulz

    LOL, why just raise taxes because we all know government should be involved in the Eagle street revitalization lulz. Like I keep saying, if you are part of the special crony insider group, you get all the cash and prizes you want. That includes brewers, artist, the RAD, and all their friends. And the rest get to pay for it while you walk away with millions. Wake up fools. The one’s who defend the local thief machine are the one’s who are benefiting from it. And they’ll do what they can to make sure it continues,. Their denials are just lies but it can;t go on forever.

  2. James

    Voters in Buncombe County (excluding the progressives), this should be wake up call to get out there and vote against any Democrat running for a seat on the county commissioners – even if you’re a Democrat. A Democrat Chairman and a majority Democrat body will result in higher taxes because these candidates are all Asheville-minded progressives who have no intention to cut wasteful spending such as greenways and other programs to please the Sierra Club and other worthless organizations with a political agenda. Buncombe County is a very large county and Asheville only takes up a fraction of the county. Don’t let the radical majority of the Asheville elite have the opportunity to control your lives and line their pockets with your hard-earned money.

    • luther blissett

      Well, James, I bet you voted for good ol’ boy Bobby Medford and his extended reign over the county, and now we’re all having to pay for him locking up innocent black folks. And I bet you like the idea of Miranda DeBruhl chairing the commission, given that she’s an empty vessel ready to be filled by the Tea Party.

      What James and Tourette’s up top seem to forget is that the county’s budget is around $300m, and the vast majority of that goes towards social services, schools, and public safety, with a large chunk of that being labor costs. So if you want to fire a bunch of deputies or teachers, or shut down Child Protective Services, make that case, because that’s where the money goes. If you don’t think the county should be in the business of educatin’, make that case. Picking around the edges at parks and greenways is BS and a distraction.

    • Yep

      Be SURE to get out and vote for Miranda DeBruhl for County Commission CHAIRWOMAN in November against the RICH WEALTHY 1%er Brownie Newman who has gotten filthy rich off the backs of
      the NC TAXPAYERS thru solar SUBSIDIES! He is an EVIL part of the problems in Dumbcombe Co already! REPLACE HIM !!!

  3. Wanda, if this accurately portrays your presentation you need a different approach—– you aren’t Santa Claus collecting wish lists.

    How about you create a budget based on expected revenues and place everything that doesn’t fit, below the line. Any commissioner that wants to add something has to take something away.

    This is pretty basic for anyone who hasn’t lived solely at the public trough.

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