Commissioners to hear from public on budget June 6

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners will hear from the public on next year’s county budget at its meeting of Tuesday, June 6. The meeting represents the public’s last opportunity to speak directly to commissioners about the $423.6 million general fund budget proposed for fiscal year 2023-24.

The budget represents a bump of roughly 6.4%, or about $25.5 million, over the one adopted last year. Included in that increase are 44 new county positions and boosts to education funding, as previously reported by Xpress.

Dozens of public school advocates, including representatives from the Buncombe County Association of Educators and the Asheville City Association of Educators, plan to attend the hearing and urge commissioners to consider raising their proposed allocation for education, said BCAE President Shanna Peele in an email to Xpress.

Buncombe County Schools is slated to receive $90.3 million in the budget, far short of the $116 million the system requested. At a May 4 meeting, the county school board had unanimously backed the higher figure, in part to cover pay increases for teachers and staff.

Asheville City Schools would be allocated $16.8 million of its $20 million request, and A-B Tech would get $8.1 million of its $9 million request, according to the county’s budget proposal.

The county’s property tax rate would remain at 48.8 cents per $100 of taxable value for the third straight year under the spending plan. The Asheville City Schools district tax would also stay constant at 10.62 cents per $100, although supplementary taxes for the Enka-Candler, French Broad, Jupiter, Riceville and Upper Hominy fire districts would all go up.

The final vote on the budget is scheduled for Tuesday, June 20.

In other news

Commissioners will consider an extension of Buncombe’s contract with residential waste collection company Waste Pro. The current contract expires at the end of 2024, and the county has the option to extend it for two or four years, according to a staff presentation.

The county is contractually obligated to inform Waste Pro of any planned contract extension by August. Otherwise, commissioners would seek competitive bids for waste collection services starting in early 2024. Both county staffers and the board’s Environmental and Energy Stewardship Subcommittee have recommended extension for the full four years.

Commissioners will also consider approving a time change to their first meeting of each month for the rest of the year starting in August. If approved, the board would meet at 10 a.m. on the first Tuesday of each month, following a 9 a.m. briefing. The meeting on the third Tuesday of the month would remain at 5 p.m., following a 3 p.m. briefing.

Consent agenda

The consent agenda for the meeting contains 15 items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include the following:

  • Approval of a request by Dean Whiteford and Cherie Thorn, co-owners of Abbington Green Bed and Breakfast Inn and Spa, to waive nearly $15,000 in late reporting penalties after not paying occupancy taxes for 21 months. The two claim they were unaware of the occupancy tax and have since paid all tax owed. On April 26, the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority board voted 5-2 to recommend waiving the penalty; Whiteford and Thorn will still have to pay about $6,000 in late payment fees.
  • Approval of state lottery funding applications for nearly $2 million in work at multiple Buncombe County schools. Projects to be supported including paving work at five schools and upgrades to the softball fields at North Buncombe High School.

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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