Buncombe County Commission

If Buncombe County commissioners’ meetings were like movies, last week’s session might be termed a summer sleeper.

A draft update of the county’s solid-waste-management plan turned out to be the weightiest topic on the Board of Commissioners’ Aug. 20 agenda, which board members whisked through in just about an hour.

Ron Townley of the Land-of-Sky Regional Council (which prepared the state-mandated trash plan in conjunction with the Buncombe County Solid Waste Authority) presented the document, designed to help the county Solid Waste Department fulfill its mission: improving “the health and safety of all citizens by disposing of all waste generated in Buncombe County in the most effective and efficient manner possible.”

Virtually nobody in North Carolina met the state’s goal of reducing per-capita waste by 40 percent over the last 10 years, Townley reported.

That includes Buncombe County, which reduced its per-capita disposal rate by 10 percent as of fiscal year 2000-01. The total amount of trash generated actually increased during that period.

The draft plan, noted Townley, proposes incremental goals for cutting the waste stream. The new goal is a 25-percent reduction by next year and a 40-percent decrease by fiscal year 2012-13.

Copies of the draft plan may be reviewed at municipal clerks’ offices throughout Buncombe County, on the Land-of-Sky Web site (www.landofsky.com) or on the county’s Web site (www.buncombcounty.org).

The public may comment on the plan through Sept. 20, noted Townley. The commissioners will hold a public hearing on the waste plan on Tuesday, Sept. 3 at 4:30 p.m. in Room 204 of the Buncombe County Courthouse.

Sept. 11 event

The board got an update on a local event to commemorate the Sept. 11 attacks. David Bailey, president/CEO of the local United Way, and A-B Tech President K. Ray Bailey (the chairman of this year’s United Way fund-raising campaign) told the commissioners about the plans for the Spirit of America Day of Caring and Remembrance.

As part of the day’s activities, a memorial event will be held at 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 11 at City/County Plaza. In addition, volunteers will take part in assorted community-service projects. The Day of Caring is an annual event, but this year’s 1,200 volunteers will perform their good deeds in honor of the Sept. 11 victims and rescue workers, Ray Bailey explained.

United Way has joined with the city, county and local rescue workers to produce the event, which will also launch the charity’s annual local fund-raising campaign.

“Collectively, we can do for this community what needs to be done,” Ray Bailey declared.

Health and money

Sara Marcia Rafter of the nonprofit Asheville-Buncombe VISION, reported that a series of dialogues on community health is scheduled for September and October. The sessions are designed to draw community members together to identify problems and come up with solutions.

The first town meeting will take place on Thursday, Sept. 5 at Isaac Dickson Elementary School on Hill Street in Asheville, starting at 7 p.m. Rafter asked those wishing to participate to register by calling 254-0333 or visiting www.abvision.org/dialogues.html.

In other action, the board unanimously decided to reissue $4.3 million in general-obligation bonds — the maximum amount the county is allowed to reissue of its general-obligation bonds that are being retired.

The $4.3 million will be spent on the following projects:

• $525,000 to buy the Enka Library (which the county now leases);

• $1.2 million for new Recreation Services administrative offices, renovations to the Erwin Pool, and replacing field lights at Charles D. Owen District Park;

• $1 million to renovate the Department of Social Services and JTPA building; and

• $1.6 million for a new computer system for the Health Center.

The board also voted to refinance $24.5 million in other bonds.

Not sue fast

Only one person at the sparsely attended meeting spoke during the board’s public-comment session. Eddie Harwood of Barnardsville asked the commissioners whether they were going to jump on board a lawsuit initiated by Cabarrus County commissioners last week to obtain their county’s share of the tax reimbursements being withheld by the state. The Cabarrus County commissioners voted to sue state Secretary of Revenue Norris Tolson, according to the Associated Press.

Buncombe County Commissioner David Gantt (a lawyer) called the lawsuit’s chances of succeeding “very slim,” though he quipped that attorneys are “well worth their weight in gold.”

“There’s no point in litigation just for show or publicity,” remarked Board of Commissioners Chairman Nathan Ramsey.

Renovating the Historic Resources Commission

During the board’s administrative “pre-meeting,” Ramsey noted that he’d spoken with Asheville Mayor Charles Worley, who told him the city wants to halve the number of seats on the 14-member Historic Resources Commission — and eliminate any county appointees to that board. The county now appoints seven members to the commission, which administers city and county programs related to historic districts and properties, along with reviewing changes to historic buildings.

Commissioner Patsy Keever asked the reason for the request, and Ramsey replied that virtually all of the projects are in the city limits.

“They’re in Buncombe County also,” countered Vice Chairman Bill Stanley.

Ramsey noted that the county had eliminated its $20,000 in HRC funding from the current county budget, but he still thinks the county ought to have at least one appointee on the commission. After more discussion, Ramsey suggested that County Manager Wanda Greene and Assistant County Manager Jerome Jones devise a rationale for the county’s position on HRC appointees.

Ramsey also floated the idea of having selected county commissioners and City Council members meet to come up with ways the two governments could collaborate to save money. Under the state’s open meetings law, no more than two commissioners and three Council members can meet together privately, he noted.

In other action, the board appointed Thomas Cathey to the Asheville Planning and Zoning Commission and Sarah Riddle to the Nursing Home Community Advisory Committee.

The board also voted to rename Secondary Road 1155 as Old Candler Town Road and Secondary Road 3652 as Carolina Mountain Drive.

The commissioners met afterward in closed session to discuss a potential legal matter and the lawsuit filed by the city — now under appeal — over whether the city or county has zoning power in the city’s newest extraterritorial jurisdiction.

Consent agenda

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners approved the following items by consent at its Aug. 20 meeting:

• the minutes of its Aug. 6 regular meeting;

• a $60,500 contract to buy software for the Permits and Inspections Department from Tidemark Advantage by Accela Inc., plus a $10,530 annual support agreement;

• a request to the N.C. Department of Transportation to abandon Secondary Road 1237 (around Mount Pisgah Academy) in Lower Hominy Township;

• authorization for the chairman to execute a quitclaim deed selling foreclosure property to Steve Moody for $6,000;

• an employment agreement with the county finance director;

• the following budget amendments: Health Center, state aid contract for lab ($215,983); Social Services, balance from adult donations ($3,618); Social Services, contracted services for Caring for Children ($57,000); Juvenile Justice grant funds ($1,313,949); Avery’s Creek Sewer District ($20,000); Aging Services distributed funds ($23,858); After School Enrichment funds ($2,096); and Planning Department transfer from Land Records($12,892);

• a capital-projects budget amendment to collect and expend insurance reserves for claims related to Mountain Mobility operations ($34,692) and appropriate funds received through a grant from the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund ($284,692) for a Recreation Services capital project; and

• a special-revenue-projects budget amendment transferring $75,000 in unallocated funds to current HOME projects and closing the 1993 Community College bond project ($372,407).

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