Sheriff’s Office requests funding for downtown patrols

The Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office is seeking funding from the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners to add downtown patrols between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. on weekend nights.

The requests for either $56,000 or $88,000 is a revised version of a proposal unveiled at a Dec. 5 commissioners meeting, just before Asheville Police Chief David Zack abruptly resigned Dec. 15. At that meeting, BCSO requested $186,000 to patrol downtown with three teams of two deputies split between the hours of 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Commissioners expressed general support for the initiative, but asked for more time to review the proposal since Dec. 5 was the first time commissioners and County Manager Avril Pinder had seen the proposal.

The new cost amounts reflect reduced hours of patrol and whether the BCSO and the Asheville Police Department collaborate. The cost of the patrols would come from BCSO’s school resource officer program. The additional patrols would run for 26 weeks.

BCSO spokesperson Aaron Sarver did not respond by press time to requests for clarification on the school resource officer funding or if APD will work with the Sheriff’s Office on patrols. Reached Thursday, APD spokesperson Samantha Booth could not confirm if APD was working with the Sheriff’s Office on this initiative.

In a recent interview with Xpress, Interim Chief Mike Lamb said he has met with Sheriff Quentin Miller about the proposal and stressed a focus on collaboration between the departments, but did not confirm any specific relationship.

If there is no partnership, the downtown patrols would cost $88,000 to pay two teams of two deputies on the ground and one in the Real-Time Intelligence Center who would provide remote monitoring of downtown streets, according to BCSO’s calculations.

In other news

Commissioners will consider at their Jan. 16 meeting a request from the Buncombe County Board of Elections to give Elections Director Corinne Duncan a raise.

Board of Elections Chair Jake Quinn pushed for the $6,000 a year raise — about 5% — at the Jan. 2 meeting, but commissioners asked for more information before making a decision.

Duncan makes about $109,222 annually. The Board of Elections is requesting she make $115,000, retroactive to July 1, 2023. The Elections Board passed a resolution asking for the director’s raise in June.

Sharon Burke, Buncombe’s human resources director, will present new data Jan. 16 to help commissioners make a decision.

The new data shows Buncombe has the highest number of voting locations and highest voter turnout amongst comparative counties.

Consent agenda

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

  • Amendments to the county’s solid waste ordinance to allow for fee adjustments through updated franchise agreements rather than board action, reduce redundancies and make ordinance language more consistent with state statutes, according to a staff presentation. This is the second reading of the amendments, required because commission Chair Brownie Newman was not present during the first reading Jan. 2.
  • Resolution amending the drug and alcohol testing policy for Mountain Mobility employees. The change will allow for oral fluid specimen collection in addition to urine testing to remain in compliance with changing federal regulations.
  • Budget amendment reducing the amount allocated to softball field upgrades at North Buncombe High School by $50,000. Due to an error by the Department of Public Instruction, commissioners approved $725,000 for the project Jan. 2, but since $50,000 was already allocated for design work, the project’s construction only costs $675,000, paid with N.C. Education Lottery funding.

The full agenda and supporting documents for the regular meeting can be found at this link. The briefing meeting usually held prior to the regular meeting has been canceled.

In-person public comment will be taken at the start of the regular meeting, which begins at 5 p.m. in room 326 at 200 College St., Asheville; no voicemail or email comments will be permitted. Both the briefing and the regular meeting will be livestreamed on the county’s Facebook page and will subsequently be available via YouTube.


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9 thoughts on “Sheriff’s Office requests funding for downtown patrols

  1. indy499

    How about Buncombe co provide policing in the city, including downtown, proportionate to taxes paid. All county residents pay the same tax to the county. City residents don’t receive costly benefits, like policing, for reasons no one in the city including the mayor can explain.

    • Mike Rains

      I have formally requested approximately $5M back from the County to account for the county taxes Asheville citizens pay in county taxes for the Sheriff function conducted outside of the city. Then, of course we have to pay for our own APD through our city taxes. This is quite clearly, double taxation.

      Chairman Newman relayed to me that he didn’t think the County Commission would support such a move; even though it has historical precedence when back in the 1980’s and 1990’s Buncombe County reimbursed these very same tax funds to the City of Asheville in compensation for the city taking on all costs associated with the water system. This ended in the early 2000’s when the Asheville dissolved the joint water authority.

      My request was detailed and used budgeting numbers provided by the County through information requests.

      This $ 5M would go a long way towrds shoring up APD pitiful salaries and rebuilding the force.

      FInally, I ipointed out that crime stats between Asheville and the County are literally 4:1 in almost all serious crime categories. Asheville needs this money for greater policing much more than the county.

  2. MV

    In addition to what others have voiced above: Our state legislature needs to change the ridiculous wasteful law and allocate a load of the TDA slush fund to shore up downtown policing during those touristy hours…TDA should step up, be a true community partner and advocate for this.

    • Mike Rains

      While I agree with you that a fairer and more equitable arrangement is needed, the NC state legislature really doesn’t care much about Asheville’s situation… long as it continues to attract tourists.

      And the TDA has no real motivation to push for greater aid to Asheville over what it already has done. So, in my opinion, it’s a dead issue unless Raleigh goes to a Democratic majority.

      As a city, we need to focus on the things we CAN change; one being my promotion of county taxes returned to Asheville from Buncombe County for Sheriff and other services that Asheville taxpayers pay for (in their county taxes) but for which they do NOT receive ANY services. $5M returned back doesn’t sound like a lot, but I can assure you would make a huge difference for APD and their abiltiy to police not only downtown, but all over the city.

      And remember, Asheville’s crime rate is roughly 4 times that of the county in virtually every crime category.

      So why won’t Buncombe County return those funds to Asheville? It’s obvious double taxation.

      • Lyn

        Start a petition. Maybe that will get the county’s attention. Of course, the city wastes so much money, most of it going to salary and benefits while quality of services continue to decline. Even if the county repaid this money to the city, there is no guarantee it would be spent on policing, especially with Roney and her anti-fa cronies in town.

        • Mike Rains

          Well I’m only getting started. There are number of things Buncombe County leaders could do differently/better to help struggling Asheville…..which just happens to be the big “bread-winner” for the county. Take away downtown Asheville and I believe tourism would drop by half. Sure people would still come to see Biltmore, but not as many though for sure.

          The cause of all of this is that Asheville has never been able to noticeably expand its tax base (geographic expansion) like all other major cities. This was all due to the water system mess (Sullivan Act) that came about during the Depression. So Asheville is a relatively poor city from a tax base standpoint and the results of this should be obvious to anyone with half a brain. Crappy roads and alleys, no maintenance on infrastructure like parking garages, Thomas Wolfe Aud., etc. You know, I could go on and on.

          And the water system is still a mess; although City leaders won’t acknowledge as such. There again, the County should be assisting with water system costs even though they are NOT required to do so per the Sullivan Acts. Why? Well for one, the county portions of the water system are the MOST expensive parts of the systems because of higher elevations. Requires pumps, tanks, controls, etc. Yet Sullivan Act doesn’t allow the city to charge any more for water outside the city limits. So in reality, we all suffer with this restriction.

          There are many things county “leaders” could do to rectify these inequities with Asheville and help the city prosper. That is what I’m working on doing. “It will take a village” though, at some point.

      • MV

        I hear what you’re saying (and what you’ve said over and over), but I’m tired of living in a state where leaders (local and state) piss away money and then wring their hands, hire dumbass overpriced consultants and then squeeze locals for nickels and dimes. It could reach a time when we the people just stop working crap jobs serving (and cleaning up after) tourists. Frankly, letting downtown devolve into a cesspool could be the best longterm solution to get the TDA and Raleigh to make the change. So, all you tourists: we know it’s not your fault, but don’t be surprised when we give you the finger.

      • Ruby

        The money for sheriff should be reimbursed to the city residents by way of reduced Buncombe County taxes. If it is collected by Buncombe County and then turned over to the city, people are still being double taxed.

  3. LIAMD

    I feel like this is a situation where the city should form a committee and explore hiring an outside consulting firm to make recommendations.

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