CIBO members ponder tax changes

Whether it was talk about the revaluations facing Buncombe County property owners this January or tax changes related to the federal Affordable Care Act, presentations at the Sept. 7 Council of Independent Business Owners breakfast focused on how either of these might affect members’ wallets.

First, as CIBO members dined at the Biltmore Square Mall Food Court, they elected new officers: President Rod Hudgins; Vice President Chris Eller; and Treasurer: Scott Hughes. CIBO, which advocates for local business owners, encourages its members to serve on local boards and commissions, and over the years, many have served in some of Asheville and Buncombe County’s most influential positions, such as on the Asheville Planning and Zoning Commission and as elected officials.

Members regularly meet to hear presentations, from luncheons where they get to meet candidates to breakfast sessions that cover a variety of topics.

First up at the Sept. 7 breakfast: Buncombe County Tax Collector Gary Roberts explained that the last time the county appraised properties for tax value was seven years ago. Typically done every four years, the tax revaluation was delayed in 2009, due to fears that, coupled with the recession, it would hurt taxpayers, he told members.

But new valuations will be sent to property owners this January, Roberts continued. He encouraged CIBO members to call and ask questions, noting that the tax department anticipates it will receive many appeals.

That’s “not a negative thing,” Roberts said. The appeals process gives tax assessors a chance to evaluate, “‘Did we do the job right?’ and [consider] ‘Do we know everything that you now about that property?’”

Newly elected CIBO treasurer Scott Hughes, an accountant with Johnson, Price & Sprinkle, spoke next, summarizing what he sees as the financial ramifications of the Affordable Care Act. “Don’t hear this as an indictment of either party,” he told members. “The fact of the matter is, I’m here to tell you the hard cruel facts that if you make a good living, most likely [you’re] going to pay more in tax.”

Hughes then laid out a series of changes, particularly those that would affect business owners with individual annual incomes above $200,000, such as a 3.8 percent tax on investment income such as dividends, interest, annuities, royalties, net rents and capital gain. — Caitlin Byrd

Land-of-Sky Regional Council honors Friends of the River

On August 29, the Asheville-based Land-of-Sky Regional Council held its 35th Annual Friends of the River Dinner. These awards recognize individuals, private organizations, civic groups, and/or public agencies in Buncombe, Henderson, Madison, and Transylvania counties for significant contributions toward the enhancement or restoration of the French Broad River as a cultural, economic, natural or recreational resource:

Margie Eblen for her significant volunteer work with RiverLink and her love for the French Broad —and for coaching friends, neighbors and relatives to get involved with river-improvement efforts.

AmeriCorps and Project Conserve for providing 135 AmeriCorps members who worked with 30 conservation and environmental groups on various conservation and river-enhancement projects in the region in the last seven years.

Rick Burt for his water-quality improvement work in Henderson County including Big Sweep cleanups, Kids in the Creek program, stream-monitoring programs and Adopt-A-Stream.

Jerry Stone for conveying a conservation easement on 115 acres of Camp Rockbrook for Girls property in Brevard to the Carolina Mountains Land Conservancy, which protects Dunns Creek and other tributaries to the French Broad River.

PSNC Energy for donating the unique and historic Gas Works Building to the City of Asheville to support an eventual greenway along the Asheville Riverfront.

Meredith Newman for establishing a Mars Hill College water-testing program that teaches students scientific testing methods and provides valuable stream-quality data on the river and eight tributaries. — from Land-of-Sky

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