A review of domestic violence in Buncombe County is on the agenda for the county Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, January 17. The annual report and accompanying presentation were created by Buncombe’s Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team, which was formed in 2018 to prevent domestic violence deaths in the county.
According to data shared prior to the meeting, the number of callers referred to the county’s lethality assessment program, which screens for domestic violence risk, has increased steadily since fiscal year 2018-19. The severity of those calls has also gone up: The number of callers saying their abuser had threatened to kill or use a weapon against them was at an all-time high in fiscal year 2021-22, the most recent period for which data is available.
This year’s report includes several recommendations for domestic violence prevention, including working with existing community agencies and advocating for legislation that limits access to firearms for domestic violence offenders. The review team found that a legally obtained semiautomatic rifle was used to carry out a recent domestic violence-related murder in the county, and they suggest that purchase permits be required for all firearms.
Buncombe to contract with new ambulance service
Commissioners will vote on a franchise agreement that would allow the county to contract out nonemergency ambulance services. The agreement would allow Mountain Area Ground Non-Emergency Transportation LLC to provide ambulance services in the county for one year.
According to a staff report provided before the meeting, the contract would have “a marginal impact on revenues” but would free up county-owned ambulances for emergency situations. During a Jan. 3 meeting of the board, Jamison Judd, Buncombe’s Emergency Medical Services Division manager, said nonemergency transport made up about 1.9% of calls in 2022, up from 1.2% in 2021.
Consent agenda and public comment
The consent agenda for the meeting contains eight items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. That agenda includes the following highlights:
- Two contracts for architectural services. The first, a nearly $161,000 agreement with Stewart Cooper Newell Architects, is for a new 911 backup center at 35 Woodfin St.; the facility will replace the current 911 backup center located at the Asheville Municipal Building, which is scheduled to close in September. The second, for about $76,000 with CPL Architects, covers design and permitting for landfill gas control systems at the county’s new fleet services complex, which will be located on the site of the old county landfill in Woodfin.
- A budget amendment accepting about $56,000 from N.C. Emergency Management to cover additional costs for repairs to the High Top Tower access road. The road, which provides access to infrastructure for the county’s public safety radio system, was damaged by Tropical Storm Fred in August 2021.
- Accepting about $52,000 in reimbursement from the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program for “incarcerating certain undocumented criminals” at the county jail during fiscal year 2020-21. The Sheriff’s Office has no immediate plans to spend the funds.
The full agenda and supporting documents for the regular meeting can be found at this link. Prior to their regular meeting, the commissioners will hold a special meeting at noon to interview applicants for the Community Reparations Commission, Strategic Partnership Grants Committee and Woodfin Water District Board of Trustees.
The board will also hold a briefing at 3 p.m. to discuss reparations, the county’s affordable parking program and other items. Following the briefing, the commissioners will enter closed session to consider personnel matters that are protected by state law.
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 live-streamed on the county’s Facebook page and will subsequently be available via YouTube.