Buncombe to consider federal funding for Mountain Mobility

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners is holding a public hearing Tuesday, Sept. 19 to consider whether the county should apply for federal grants to fund Mountain Mobility’s transportation services.

If the application is approved at a future meeting, Buncombe hopes to get $1.6 million in federal funds allocated for rural transportation projects for Mountain Mobility, a community transportation service that primarily serves people with disabilities and older adults in Buncombe County.

If approved, the federal funds would be paired with nearly $180,000 in state money and nearly $222,000 from county coffers for a total of about $2 million. According to county documents, these funds would be available in fiscal year 2025.

A large majority of the money, about $1.6 million, would go to replace equipment, including 10 lift-equipped vans with propane converters, 24 mobile radios and 43 tablets. The remaining $430,000 is slated to cover administrative costs, including technology and communication costs associated with scheduling dispatching drivers, employee training and development and vehicle insurance, according to the documents.

In other news

Commissioners will consider reallocating about $718,000 in COVID recovery funding from a Mountain Housing Opportunities project to an infrastructure project on Ferry Road in South Asheville associated with an affordable housing development.

Though the Ferry Road project received an additional $2.3 million in reallocated COVID recovery funds at the Sept. 5 commission meeting, it needs more to support creation of an access road to an affordable housing development on county-owned land between Interstate 26 and the French Broad River near Bent Creek, according to a county presentation.

The Mountain Housing Opportunities project at Lakeside Villas will replace the same amount of reallocated funds from the housing general obligation bonds passed by Buncombe residents in the 2022 election.

Commissioners will also consider updates to Buncombe’s economic development incentive policies at the meeting, which aim to incentivize fair and equitable wages among private employers, amongst other goals, according to a county presentation.

Commissioners are also scheduled to hire Melissa Moore as the county’s new finance director. Moore, who last worked as finance director of Pflugerville, Texas, has more than 20 years of experience in the private and public sector, according to a county press release. Commissioners are responsible for the hiring and firing of the finance director, but Moore will report to County Manager Avril Pinder daytoday. She is scheduled to start Monday, Sept. 18.

Consent agenda

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 approximately $240,000 contract with ADW Architects for a feasibility planning study on how to use the existing Asheville Primary School site, including development of a temporary mobile EMS base. The study will also review the feasibility of using a portion of Hall Fletcher Elementary School’s campus to relocate a consolidated Asheville City Schools maintenance facility.
  • Approval of a contract with Stewart Cooper Newell Architects for the renovation of 40 McCormick Place into a regional EMS base. The county will pay the firm nearly $329,000 for design and engineering services through completion of the project.
  • Acceptance of about $49,000 in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services to retrofit a large conference room at 40 Coxe Ave. with equipment that will allow for functional hybrid meetings.

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.



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