Buncombe County Commissioners preview: May the (work) force be with you?

At this week’s Nov. 16 meeting, Buncombe County Commissioners are scheduled to discuss a new workforce housing incentive proposal, take action on a conservation easement request, and hear a report on the county’s finances.

The housing incentive policy was drafted in response to a request last month by Frontier Syndicate for $1.8 million in tax breaks for its Montford Commons work-force-housing development. During their Oct. 26 session, several board members showed enthusiasm for the project, but told the developer that they weren’t comfortable granting the request without first drafting a guiding policy.

Since then, county staff have prepared a policy that defines workforce housing as housing that a family with an income of up to 140 percent of the area’s median income can afford without spending more than 30 percent of their income on mortgage payments (including insurance and taxes). The idea is to provide subsidies to developers who create housing for workers such as police officers, nurses and teachers who may have trouble finding adequate housing if they have incomes between $44,300 and $77,560. The new policy defines fair market workforce rent as $504 for an efficiency, $589 for a one-bedroom, $672 for a two-bedroom, and $900 for a three-bedroom unit.

The proposal would give the county a variety of incentives to encourage new housing developments, including grants, tax breaks and deferred construction loans. The incentives would be considered on a case-by-case basis and would require qualifying developments to offer at least 100 units of workforce housing that could only be rented to full-time residents of Buncombe County.

Next on the agenda is a request by Edith Fortune for the county to cover or waive the transaction costs of a conservation easement deal that would preserve 78 acres of pasture and woodlands in the Upper Broad River Community. The costs are estimated at $14,000; the land includes several streams that are part of the headwaters to the Broad River. The site is now being leased for cattle and hay, and under the easement, could still be used for farming.

The board will also consider the county’s state-mandated annual finance report, which will be used to help shape next year’s budget. The audit found that at the end of the last fiscal year in June, the county had a fund balance of $158.5 million, an increase of $28.1 million over the prior year.  However, a large portion of that money (about $81.5 million) has already been designated for continuing activities and capital expenditures such as courthouse, landfill and DSS improvements.

The board will meet at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 16, in the commissioner’s chambers, located at 30 Valley St. A short pre-meeting review of the agenda will begin at 4:15 p.m.

About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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6 thoughts on “Buncombe County Commissioners preview: May the (work) force be with you?

  1. ncweb76

    Sure this is great, people making over 44,000 need affortable housing, what about the other 80% of citizens that make 20,000-25,000 in this tourist related city. I guess like most government polices they fall through the cracks. Lets make everything as easy as we can on the upper income levels. Rent in this area averages 600-800 a month regardless of your income. I have no sympathy for these people. I barely make it and work full time, but yet I make too much for help. I barely eat, but don’t qualify. Stuff like this makes me sick. I’m so sorry that these public servants can’t find a luxury home with their incomes. Maybe I should get a second job and help them pay for their nice house. I’m not saying that I deserve a handout, but these people definately shouldn’t.

  2. artart

    The whole redistributionist idea of affordable housing sucks, particularly when the housing is built in Asheville and partially subsidized by county residents. Not to mention the developer getting large HUD loans to minimize having to put up any of their own money. And to add insult to potential injury, why is it that government workers will get first choice of this housing? Another example of government taking what is not theirs and giving it away to those it favors. All my life affordable housing meant housing I was able to afford on my own wherever or whatever it may have been. Is this really a valid function of government or is this merely personal agendas of elected “progressives” who willingly use money that does not belong to them to fund their ideas of social justice and redistribution? Tell the County Commissioners NO on using our money for thi sort of quasi-earmark pork spending.

  3. JWTJr

    I thought it odd that Gov’t workers were given a special status. That is completely wrong.

    It seems that most of the jobs that the Gov’t can create is Gov’t jobs. How hard is that?

  4. kupuna

    I have a bachelors degree and have worked for Buncombe Co. for 19 years in a paraprofessional position. I make a little over $26,000. a year. I have 2 children who grew up here, were educated here, and can barely afford to rent, let alone buy here. They and I are part of the “Work Force.” What’s wrong with this picture?

  5. artart

    kupuna, I had moved around during my career, at least one time because the cost of living in a particular area I was working in was too high for the salarly I could earn there. At one other time I had to turn down an advancement opportunity because even with a raise, the area I would have had to move to was just too high in terms of cost of living. People just have to make decisions about things and do what they can. We all face tradeoffs in our lives. Just cause your kids have trouble meeting the rent because of where they choose to live and what they choose to do to earn a living, does not mean other people owe them anything.

  6. jackjimerson

    These anti-redistributionist Palin Teabaggers are the ones who suck. Why are people rich in the first place? Because they make money from other people who are working for a living. Those of us who believe that the rich need to help out in proportion to their riches need to just come out and say it, and let these Teabaggers rant. Remember the French Revolution? It was not Communism or Socialism, but a revolt against the rich and the Royals who said “let them eat cake” (translated, “let them eat the crumbs from our tables if they are so hungry”). This is what is going on today with people like Rand Paul, named after Ayn Rand, the original Teabagger; see what Wikipedia has to say about her… “Rand’s political views, reflected in both her fiction and her theoretical work, emphasize individual rights (including property rights) and laissez-faire capitalism, enforced by a constitutionally limited government. She was a fierce opponent of all forms of collectivism and statism,[3][4] including fascism, communism, socialism, and the welfare state,[5] and promoted ethical egoism while rejecting the ethic of altruism”. Notice, she rejects altruism?

    OMG. If this is what is going to happen, I want to live in Sweden! But I am too poor to move. In this new era of Rand economics, poverty will be a crime, probably a capital one; we will have to starve to death.
    It is time for an uprising, folks. These Teabaggers are going to be the death of America, and all that will be left will be the rich and their servants.

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