Commissioners to hear update on FY 2018 finances

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As part of an ongoing push for transparency in the wake of allegations of fraud against former county manager Wanda Greene, the county Board of Commissioners will hear a presentation on Tuesday, May 1, about the state of the county’s fiscal year 2017-18 finances.

According to a third quarter financial report available on the county website, Buncombe County had collected $254.1 million in general fund revenue as of March 31. The general fund accounts for a vast swath of the county’s operating expenses, including general government, public safety, economic development, human services and education. Staff projects that the county will collect a total of $298.1 million by the end of the fiscal year.

Meanwhile, general fund expenditures totaled $208.9 million as of March 31. Staff projects the county will end the year with $302.5 million in expenditures, which is $4.4 million more than the projected revenue.

The report also contains information about county debt, which as of March 31 totaled $458.6 million. Almost 59 percent of that is related to education spending. In February, the board of commissioners unanimously approved issuing limited obligation bonds to pay for several Buncombe County and Asheville City schools construction projects, borrowing a total of $54.7 million.

OBLIGATIONS: A screenshot from the county’s third quarter financial report shows a breakdown of the county’s total debt. Image courtesy of Buncombe County
OBLIGATIONS: A table from the county’s third quarter financial report shows a breakdown of the county’s total debt. Image courtesy of Buncombe County

County debt policy requires the county to pay off 55 percent of its debt within 10 years. According to the financial report, the county is on track to pay off 63 percent of the outstanding debt within a 10-year timeframe.

County Finance Director Tim Flora made a commitment during a presentation to the board of commissioners in November that he would provide quarterly updates to commissioners on the county’s financial health. The commissioners later added the updates to a list of internal reforms, which they discussed during a meeting in January, asking that the chief financial officer provide financial updates on a monthly basis. The first presentation occurred on Feb. 20.

Zoning

Commissioners will decide whether to approve a zoning amendment that would require developers to submit a traffic impact study if they are seeking approval for a development with more than 75 residential units. The county Planning Board voted 5-2 in favor of the new requirement in February. Planning department staff recommended the change after they noticed that the county Board of Adjustment, which issues conditional use permits, had formed a habit of delaying its decisions on apartment complexes until developers came back with a traffic study.

“They’ve not felt comfortable,” said Planning Director Nathan Pennington during the February Planning Board meeting. “We’d like to give them some tools, some more information to help them make informed decisions.”

Commissioners will also vote on an amendment updating the zoning ordinance’s parking table, which lists minimum parking requirements for buildings based on their use. The table hasn’t been revised since the early 1980s and has caused some confusion in the past. Recently, someone hoping to build an 18-hole miniature golf course learned he would have to put in about 300 parking spaces to comply with the requirements of the parking table.

Commissioners will also decide whether to rezone a 1.78-acre parcel at 258 Starnes Cove Road from Residential District R-2 to Residential District R-3. County staff recommend that commissioners approve the request.

In other business

Commissioners will hear a presentation on the state of the Asheville Regional Airport. The board of commissioners is one of three local governing entities that appoints members to the Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority, which is the airport’s governing body. The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, Henderson County Board of Commissioner and Asheville City Council each appoint two members to the seven-person board. One member is appointed at-large by the six other board members.

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners will meet at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 1, at 200 College St. in Asheville in room 326. The full meeting agenda and supporting documents can be found here.

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About David Floyd
David Floyd is the Buncombe County reporter for the Mountain Xpress. He previously worked as a general-assignment reporter for the Johnson City Press. Email him at dfloyd@mountainx.com.

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