The Solarize rate of $2.45 per watt of electricity generation is roughly 9% cheaper than the statewide average of $2.67 per watt listed by EnergySage, an industry website. The program, spearheaded by the nonprofit Blue Horizons Project, is able to offer the discount through bulk purchasing of solar equipment for Buncombe County residents.
Newly formed Asheville nonprofit Accessing Needed Crisis and Critical Help Outreach and Resources is proposing a low-barrier, high-access shelter that would forego many of the usual rules for tenants. Start-up costs could reach $6.5 million, with annual operating costs of $3 million, and would initially be funded through Asheville’s approximately $26.1 million in federal coronavirus relief.
Buncombe County’s fiscal year 2021-22 budget — passed unanimously by the Board of Commissioners on June 15 — includes an effective property tax increase of 2 cents per $100 of valuation. It also includes $300,000 toward property tax relief grants.
At a June 10 meeting of the Council of Independent Business Owners, Republican Sen. Chuck Edwards said he had “come around to the way of thinking of the folks in the county” who want less of the tax to go toward tourism marketing.
The draft document lists six high-level goals for both county government and the broader community, such as providing racial equity education and communication, improving quality-of-life outcomes through racial equity initiatives and establishing Buncombe as an equity inclusion model.
As in previous years, members of the public both applauded the city for funding long-promised initiatives, such as the 2018 Transit Master Plan and increases to firefighter pay, and voiced concern over how other taxpayer money would be spent.
The speaker series is part of a three-phase process to create and empower a joint Asheville-Buncombe County Reparations Commission. Once formed, the commission would be tasked with making short-, medium- and long-term recommendations to repair the damage caused by public and private systemic racism.
Asheville City Council and the community will participate in city business face to face for the first time since April 2020. The meeting will take place in the Banquet Hall at Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville at 5 p.m.
“What is emerging is the idea that we’re now able to quantify what’s happening,” says Jennifer Harrison, agriculture and land resource director for Buncombe County, about the ability of farmers to combat climate change through practices like cover cropping and rotational grazing.
During a June 1 meeting, the county Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to approve a memorandum of agreement regarding the settlement of its litigation against pharmaceutical companies for their role in the opioid crisis.
Since investor-owned HCA Healthcare bought nonprofit Mission Health System in 2019, stories are increasingly common of long waits in the emergency room, unsanitary conditions, broken or missing equipment, patients having to lie in their own urine and feces, doctors leaving because of pay disputes and nurses weeping in the hallways because of stress and chronic understaffing.
If the vote takes place as planned, it would mark the second consecutive year in which the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners approved the budget immediately after the public hearing. Last year, Chair Brownie Newman noted that the board has historically allowed some time between the hearing and the vote to consider resident input.
The potential closure and sale of the APS campus had drawn intense community pushback since being initially recommended as a cost-saving measure by Superintendent Gene Freeman on Dec. 7.
A public hearing on the proposed budget will take place on Tuesday, June 8, during the regularly scheduled Council meeting. The final vote on whether to adopt the budget will take place on Tuesday, June 22.
The TDA would spend at least $10.6 million on advertising buys, an 8% increase over its last pre-pandemic fiscal year. Just over $3 million would go toward the production of new content, with the remainder of the marketing budget spent on research.
Work started May 17, and demolition of the 123-year-old monument to Zebulon Baird Vance in downtown Asheville is expected to take two weeks to complete, says city spokesperson Polly McDaniel. Costs to take down the structure block by block will reach roughly $114,000, while an additional $25,500 has been allocated for site restoration following the monument’s removal.
The land would be earmarked for a “transit-oriented development” designed to combine a larger transit center with affordable housing and commercial space.
Specifics on how the Asheville City Schools system spends its local allocation (at over $5,800 per student, the second-highest in North Carolina) and its plans to reduce costs have been hard to come by — and may have been concealed in violation of state open meetings law during a May 18 special closed session of the Asheville City Board of Education.
Projected capital investment costs for implementing the library plan total at least $81 million over the next 15 years, including nearly $18 million for a new 25,000-square-foot facility in Enka/Candler and over $16 million for a new building of the same size in West Asheville.
The 20,000-square-foot facility, to be operated by A-B Tech, would “provide a pipeline of skilled workers prior to the plant opening, helping to recruit qualified candidates and pre-train and post-train employees.” The funding would come from future county bonds that would be repaid through local sales tax revenues.
The proposed tax rate of 41.3 cents appears lower than the current rate of 42.89 cents, explained city Director of Finance Tony McDowell. However, the median tax bill will still go up from $995 to $1,215 — more than 22% — due to the 27% increase in median property value for Asheville residents assessed by this year’s Buncombe County revaluation.