New offices for county government?

At a retreat yesterday, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners instructed county staff to investigate moving offices for all or most county services into a single location, a move that could cost from $30-60 million, depending on whether the county buys or builds the facility.

The push from the board came after a long review of the county’s offices and properties around the area.

“We’re way too spread out,” Chair David Gantt said, and Commissioner K. Ray Bailey concurred.

“Why can’t we get it all in one place?” Bailey said. “It seems like it would be a lot more efficient.”

The board instructed County Manager Wanda Greene to come back with several options for consolidating the locations of county services in a facility that has easy access and space for growth and doesn’t involve an increase in the tax rate.

That may prove a tall order. Earlier in the day, the commissioners reviewed a series of desperately needed facilities, including a $20 million-plus public-safety training center, an addition to the courthouse (also over $20 million) and more offices for human services. As if that wasn’t enough, Tax Assessor Gary Roberts informed the board that increased tax exemptions under new state laws and a looming property revaluation may leave the county strapped for cash.

“The thing is that we’re in the people business,” Gantt told Xpress after the retreat. “And in tough economic times demands for these services are going to go up.”

“A tax increase is not on the table,” he added. “Not with this board.”

While the county has committed to focusing on “core services,” many of the above needs fall into that category. When asked how the county will prioritize between those services, Gantt said, “We will have to mull that over and consider all the options.”

The costs for a facility consolidating the county’s offices could range widely, considering that it needs to be easily accessible. One possibility is the Biltmore Square Mall, which is for sale.

Greene said that the county will need 300,000 to 400,000 square feet for such a consolidated facility.

— David Forbes, staff writer

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13 thoughts on “New offices for county government?

  1. Chad Nesbitt

    I would move them to the Biltmore Square Mall.
    It’s forsale, plenty of parking, easy in and out.

  2. Reality Check

    Ralph – that money would pay for about 1.5 million bags at $25 each. Flying a whole building commercial airways, brick by brick, sounds like an excellent Government project. Better not bring it up at the next council meeting.

    If the sale goes thru, I would love to follow that pile of money. It would be interesting to see where it eventually went.

  3. Dennis Justice

    The Henderson County government service building is on 2 1/2 acres of land. The Biltmore Square Mall is on 44 acres of land. What in God’s name do you need that much land for? Why spend all that money, put people out of business, take away sales and property taxes, and overspend like this? Can’t they find a 5 acre peice of land for a county service building?

  4. Reality Check

    Dennis – Far too logical. On a sadder note, Bev Perdue also seems to want to go on a real estate spending spree. I can’t wait for the corruption cases that result.

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