Fee increases on county commissioners’ Sept. 17 agenda

Buncombe County seal

Want to build a new home, get birth control or dispose of a dead cow? Those and numerous other activities are slated to grow more expensive in Buncombe County, according to the new fee schedule up for consideration by the Board of Commissioners during the board’s regular meeting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 17, in room 326 at 200 College St.

According to a presentation available prior to the meeting, permit and inspection fees will generally increase for both residential and nonresidential structures. The cost to approve a new single-family dwelling, for example, would go up from $450 to $500, while the base fee for approving a modular office or classroom would increase from $350 to $400.

Clients should see only minor price increases for contraceptives available through the county’s Health and Human Services; a diaphragm will now cost 30 cents more, and a NuvaRing will go up by 72 cents. Private insurers, however, will be charged much more for IUDs — in the most substantial price differential, the same Liletta birth control implant billed to self-pay clients or Medicaid at $47.26 would now be billed to insurance companies at $710, over 15 times as much.

And the county landfill will double its cost for large farm animal carcass disposal, going from $50 to $100. Other materials will be more expensive to discard as well, including yard waste ($30 vs. $20 per ton), bagged leaves ($1 vs. 50 cents per bag) and computer monitors ($10 vs. $5 per unit).

Buncombe also plans to inaugurate a fee schedule for public records requests. While documents will still be provided via email at no charge, paper copies will now cost a requester 10 cents per page, with certified copies costing $5 for the first page and $2 for each additional page. “Extensive use of information technology resources” may also incur special charges to be set on a case-by-case basis.

In other business

Commissioners will revisit the county’s surplus property policy, changes to which they last considered on April 16. At that meeting, after several members raised concerns over fairness, the board agreed to table approval of a proposed rule that would have given county nonprofits the first pick of property valued at less than $30,000.

The updates outlined on the Sept. 17 agenda no longer include the first-pick option for nonprofits, instead specifying that all items will be sold through online public auction. The new policy also gives County Manager Avril Pinder the ultimate authority to declare any property as surplus, including vehicles; decisions regarding vehicles are currently delegated to the county’s fleet manager, Ed Parham.

County departments have requested that more than $1 million in unspent funds from the fiscal year 2018-19 budget be carried forward to the current fiscal year. Items of interest include over $496,000 not awarded as an economic incentive for GE Aviation, over $110,000 earmarked for adoption promotion by the Division of Social Services and more than $114,000 reserved for 140 new county laptops that were not delivered on schedule.

Buncombe also plans to submit a grant request for more than $1.02 million in state and federal Section 5311 funds to support its Mountain Mobility transit service. The money, which would fund both administrative expenses and seven replacement vehicles, requires nearly $135,000 in matching county funds.

Consent agenda

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

  • Apply for $250,000 from the N.C. Education Lottery’s Public School Building Capital Fund. If awarded, the money will be used for additions and renovations at Community High School in Swannanoa.
  • Accept $27,000 in state funding to support the county’s hepatitis C counseling services. As noted in a staff report available prior to the meeting by Jennifer Barnette, the county had already funded the program for the current fiscal year in anticipation of not receiving state report; the additional money “will expand the level of needed services for counseling and testing provided through the existing contract.”

At 8:30 a.m., the board will hold a strategic planning workshop in the third floor dining room of the First Baptist Church, 5 Oak St., Asheville. In light of that workshop, the board’s regularly scheduled 3 p.m. pre-meeting has been cancelled. The full meeting agenda and supporting documents can be found here.

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About Daniel Walton
Daniel Walton is the Green Scene editor and a reporter for Mountain Xpress. His work has previously appeared in Capital at Play, Edible Asheville, and the Citizen-Times, among other area publications. Follow me @DanielWWalton

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