At its Tuesday, Sept. 5 meeting, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners will consider allocating about $4.7 million in COVID recovery funding to help pay for additional emergency beds in homeless shelters .
As part of an interlocal agreement, the City of Asheville will administer $875,000 in county funds, as well as an equal city match, to three area shelter providers for extra beds. According to a staff presentation, the other $3.8 million is slated to go toward general housing or shelter needs, the specifics of which are not yet clear.
If the funding is passed, The Salvation Army of Asheville and Buncombe County is slated to add 20 new beds to its existing 45 beds and 16 Code Purple beds, according to an interlocal agreement. Additionally, Grace Episcopal Church will provide 10 new beds to families with children and 10 new beds for single adults under the agreement. The Haywood Street Congregation will provide 3 new beds and onsite services from licensed medical, mental health and substance use providers to respond to needs of “clinically acute single adults,” according to the agreement.
The county will also consider reallocating about $2.3 million to bolster funding for a Ferry Road infrastructure project.
The funds come from the $4.4 million that was left from the federal American Rescue Plan Act and a reallocation of $2.5 million previously set aside for COVID contingencies and broadband infrastructure expansion.
If passed, this will exhaust the $50.7 million Buncombe County received in federal COVID recovery funds.
In other news
Commissioners will also receive an update from the Early Childhood Committee on the use of about $3.6 million in the Early Childhood Education and Development fund.
Committee members will detail the 22 projects that were funded through 17 agencies last fiscal year, leading to a 69% completion rate of stated goals, according to a staff presentation.
The most difficult goals to achieve related to enrollment, attendance and staffing.
Commissioners will also receive an update on pre-K expansion in Buncombe County, including the latest on a two-year pilot project by the Partnership for Children, conducted with $3.2 million in COVID recovery funding. The project runs through June 2024.
Public Health Director Ellis Matheson will also provide commissioners an update on the county’s preparation for the fall respiratory virus season at the meeting.
The consent agenda for the meeting contains eight items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include the following:
- Approval of the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office’s participation in the fourth year of the DWI task force as part of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program. If approved, BCSO will receive $154,481 in federal funding and an equal match in county funds for a total of nearly $309,000 for three sworn officers and operational expenses.
- Approval of a budget amendment to establish two conservation easement projects. If approved, the county will spend $63,000 to conserve 155 acres on Fairacres Farm in Fairview and $37,000 for 30 acres on Parham-Fortner Farm in Leicester.
- Approval of a budget amendment to establish a grant budget of $33,418 for the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office’s Medication Assisted Treatment program in the county jail through September 30.
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.