County considers giving nonprofits first pick of surplus property

Buncombe County seal

Cars, SUVs, computers and more — Buncombe County regularly cleans out its proverbial closet of property that no longer makes the grade for government work. While this surplus is currently sold via open online auction, new rules under consideration at the Tuesday, April 16, Board of Commissioners meeting would give the county’s nonprofit organizations first dibs.

Under the revised policy, all certified 501(c) nonprofits registered in Buncombe County would be able to buy property appraised at less than $30,000 for its fair market value, first come first served, during the 10 days after its declaration as surplus. Only after that window has passed would the property be listed online for perusal by the general public.

In addition, commissioners will consider two direct donations of surplus vehicles to area nonprofits. French Broad Volunteer Fire & Rescue is slated to receive a 2008 Ford Explorer, while Working Wheels is scheduled to get five vehicles, including a 2008 Dodge Durango and a 2006 Ford E150 van.

Other county nonprofits would be able to go shopping for the remainder of the surplus property listed for disposal. Those goods include three vehicles, 65 computer monitors and 130 laptops from the county’s IT department.

In other business

Two weeks after initially scheduled, commissioners will hear a presentation from attorney Ron Payne concerning “consideration of a legal settlement.” No further detail is given in the notice of the presentation available before the meeting, but Payne has worked on previous settlements paid by corrupt former county officials Wanda Greene, Michael Greene and Jon Creighton.

Civil suits remain pending against former County Manager Mandy Stone and contractor Joseph Wiseman Jr., as well as Wiseman’s firm, Environmental Infrastructure Consulting. To date, Buncombe County has recovered over $3 million in losses due to fraud involving Wiseman and the former county employees.

The board will also discuss modifications to its $2.3 million in loans for the Eagle Market Place project. As explained in a report by Senior Staff Attorney Michael Frue, the affordable housing initiative is securing permanent financing with Bellwether Enterprise Real Estate Capital and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, thus requiring some changes to other pieces of its funding puzzle.

The amount of the county’s loans will not change, but they will come to term two years later, in 2035 instead of 2033. The debt will also be subordinated, which means it would be repaid after the Bellwether financing in the case of Eagle Market Place’s bankruptcy.

On April 15, Board of Commissioners Chair Brownie Newman informed media members that the board had received a request from the Land of Sky Regional Council to give a short presentation on its efforts to expand rural broadband in Buncombe County. Because the item was not published on the previously posted agenda, all commissioners must be consensus for the presentation to be added.

Consent agenda

The board’s consent agenda for the meeting contains six items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include resolutions to:

  • Grant an easement through the county-owned Ferry Road property to PSNC Energy for underground natural gas lines in exchange for $11,730.83. In January, Asheville City Council approved the construction of a 416-unit residential development on the site.
  • Increase the design consultancy fee paid to PFA Architects of Asheville for the new East Asheville library by $57,200 for a total of $418,640. In a report issued before the meeting, county planner Pamela Freeman-King noted that PFA’s fee was fixed at 7% of the project’s estimated cost, which commissioners increased by $1.3 million in December due to “additional construction costs not originally anticipated.”
  • Approve eight fireworks displays by New Castle, Penn.-based Pyrotecnico Fireworks from April through December. One show will take place at a private residence in Fletcher, while the remainder will take place on the Biltmore Estate.

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners meets at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16, in Room 326 at 200 College St. in downtown Asheville. The board will also hold a pre-meeting conference, open to the public, at 12 p.m. in the First Floor Conference Room in the same building. The full meeting agenda and supporting documents can be found here.

Edited at 12:35 p.m. to add information from Board of Commissioners Chair Brownie Newman on the Land of Sky agenda item.


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About Daniel Walton
Daniel Walton is the former news editor of Mountain Xpress. His work has also appeared in Sierra, The Guardian, and Civil Eats, among other national and regional publications. Follow me @DanielWWalton

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