The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners will take a big step toward wrapping up the budget process when it meets on Tuesday, June 6. Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the proposed spending plan ahead of a vote later in the month. They will also consider diverting the A-B Tech sales tax dedicated for capital projects and could hit the reset button on a memorandum of understanding with Duke Energy.
The county will hold its public hearing on the proposed spending plan for fiscal year 2018, which starts July 1. Outgoing County Manager Wanda Greene’s proposed budget is $419,289,728, an increase of $5.7 million, or 1.4 percent, over the current budget. It has a property tax rate of 55.9 cents per $100 of valued property, or $1,118 for a home valued at $200,000. While down from the current rate of 60.4 cents, it’s higher than the revenue-neutral rate of 51.3 cents, which would equal a $1,026 bill for a home valued at $200,000.
Commissioners will not be voting on any aspect of the budget during this meeting. That vote is slated for June 20.
For more information about the budget process see Xpress‘ previous coverage:
- Overview of nearly $11 million requested by nonprofits
- Budget talks spark old beef, new tax rate discussion
- Schools may be key to property tax relief
- County nonprofit funding at odds with resolution guidelines
All sales not final
During a budget workshop in May commissioners inquired if the quarter-cent sales tax dedicated to A-B Tech capital projects could pivot and be earmarked for maintenance and operations. The tax was approved by voters in 2011 and is not slated to sunset until 2029. According to N.C. General Statutes the revenue can be altered by commissioners. During that workshop Commission Chair Brownie Newman stated he was in favor of exploring the idea, while Commissioner Mike Fryar said he opposed it. Other commissioners did not express opinions either way.
As for A-B Tech, President Dennis King told Xpress, via email: “So long as the revenue from the sales tax is used exclusively for A-B Tech, I encourage the expanded use of the proceeds for long term maintenance and operations at the College.”
There will be a public hearing on the potential diversion of the sales tax before commissioners vote.
Commissioners might be backtracking on plans to move forward with Duke Energy conducting a feasibility study for a proposed solar farm on the site of the old county landfill in Woodfin. Last month commissioners approved a resolution for Duke to proceed with the study, but not all commissioners where happy with the vetting of potential partners or the transparency of tapping Duke as a partner. The resolution was approved by a 4-3 vote that saw Democrats split on the issue.
However, a new resolution on commissioners’ agenda would start the process over by initiating a request for proposals for a partner to conduct a feasibility study. County staff told Xpress that, if the resolution is approved, “We will be starting from scratch and asking the most qualified company to do a feasibility study.”
There will be a public hearing on the issue before commissioners vote on whether to start the process over again. You can view the proposed RFP here.
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners meets on Tuesday, June 6 at 5 p.m. at 200 College St.