The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners got its first look at the county’s fiscal year 2020 budget at a noon meeting originally announced to review the agenda for the board’s 5 p.m. regular meeting on April 16.
Rep. Chuck McGrady, a Henderson County Republican, on April 16 introduced a bill in the state House to require the Metropolitan Sewerage District of Buncombe County to add Fletcher, Mills River and some unincorporated areas of northern Henderson County to its service district if a state board approves. The following day, the Buncombe MSD board voted to oppose the bill.
In court documents filed March 12, former Asheville Police Chief Tammy Hooper’s attorney, Joseph P. McGuire, responded to a legal complaint brought against Hooper by former Asheville Police Sgt. Lisa Taube.
Local divisions of the N.C. Department of Transportation won recognition in the state’s annual Wildflower Awards, while the city of Asheville studies noise and the Buncombe Partnership for Children deploys a $400,000 grant to train up to 60 new early childhood educators in Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania counties.
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.
Parks and Recreation Director Roderick Simmons fielded criticism over the parking changes from multiple community members and athletic groups. The city’s efforts to reduce the burden of event parking in the East End, Edgehill, Hunt Hill and Oakhurst neighborhoods, they said, had hampered their access to the athletic facility.
City Chief Financial Officer Barbara Whitehorn proposed that Asheville institute a program of regularly issued general obligation bonds to support capital improvement projects, while Council member Julie Mayfield discussed a property tax increase to boost Asheville’s operating budget.
Taken together, the adjustments on the docket would generate nearly $1 million in new annual revenue for water operations and capital improvements. In a staff report issued before the meeting, city CFO Barbara Whitehorn estimated the total annual impact of the changes as $6.60 per household.
Hendersonville Police Chief Herbert Blake has established a voluntary registry for residents with dementia. In the event a person on the registry wanders from home or otherwise goes missing, the information can instantly be shared with local emergency responders.
Buncombe County has used about a third of the total 12.5 million cubic yards of space available to receive municipal solid waste, which the department tracks separately from waste produced by construction projects. At its construction and demolition landfill, which sits on the same property but is sorted separately, the county still has about 1.3 million cubic yards of fillable space out of a maximum capacity of about 2.4 million.
“They are supposed to notify the customers to boil the water and then take a sample to make sure there is no bacteria present in the water and then they lift the boil water advisory,” Kimberly Barnett, the regional manager for Asheville at the state Department of Environmental Quality, told Carolina Public Press. The city of Asheville didn’t follow that process after widespread water outages on April 1.
Commissioners unanimously agreed Tuesday to enter into a modified economic development agreement with Linamar, which the county believes will enable the business to meet its targets by 2024.
“I don’t know how to stretch $230,000 into three-quarters of a million. I just don’t know how to do it. Maybe if I had Jesus here with the fish, and he was feeding everybody, maybe we could do that,” said committee member Keith Young to laughter from the audience. “That’s kind of a tongue-in-cheek response, but it is tough.”
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a zoning amendment that allows manufactured homes in more county residential districts.
Following federal investigations into former County Manager Wanda Greene and others, Buncombe County has recouped more than $3 million through legal settlements with former county officials. That total could increase during a Buncombe County Board of Commissioners meeting this month.
Incumbent Asheville City Board of Education members Shaunda Sandford and Martha Geitner faced tough questions from Asheville City Council at an interview session on March 26. But at Council’s regular meeting that same evening, the two were unanimously reappointed to four-year terms on the board. James Carter was selected to fill a two-year vacancy created by the resignation of board member James Lee.
At a budget work session on March 26, city CFO Barbara Whitehorn reported that Asheville can expect to receive $2.5 million in property and sales taxes from the health system in fiscal year 2019-20 — only half of the $5 million initially estimated by the Buncombe County tax office — then $5 million instead of $8 million for every year to follow.
The N.C. Department of Transportation has begun planning for a project intended to improve traffic flow and add facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists along the corridor that connects West Asheville and Biltmore Village. But with neighbors gearing up to oppose what they feared would be a plan to widen both Amboy and Meadow roads to four lanes, a DOT engineer says the agency has already taken that option off the table.
Asheville City Council will be asked to add its piece of a $39.7 million redevelopment puzzle on Tuesday evening. The 2016 General Obligation Housing Bond will provide $1.82 million, while $1.38 million will come from the city’s general fund and $1 million will be spent from the Affordable Housing Capital Improvement Program.
A group representing government, education, business and nonprofit organizations is coalescing to form a community response to a severe racial achievement gap in Asheville City Schools. But it’s not yet clear how the initiative will define its goals and approach — and what resources it can attract to fund the effort.
“Oversight in this kind of system — where the board is appointed by a body with no regulatory authority, in a process closed to school employees, families and the community as a whole — is more than a little messed up. It is completely unaccountable, open to all kinds of corruption and anti-democratic, not to mention a lousy use of resources.”