Solar farm redo, sales tax diversion and budget on deck for commissioners

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners will talk budget, considering diverting the A-B Tech sales tax and discuss the Duke Energy solar farm feasibility study when it meets on Tuesday, June 6. Photo by Molly Horak

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.

Money talks

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.

The public can weigh in on any aspect of the proposed budget; such as community funding, Asheville City and Buncombe County Schools requests, fire department requests, the property tax rate and more.

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:

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.

Hot topic

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.


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About Dan Hesse
I grew up outside of Atlanta and moved to WNC in 2001 to attend Montreat College. After college, I worked at NewsRadio 570 WWNC as an anchor/reporter and covered Asheville City Council and the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners starting in 2004. During that time I also completed WCU's Master of Public Administration program. You can reach me at

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25 thoughts on “Solar farm redo, sales tax diversion and budget on deck for commissioners

    • Lulz

      LOL I can assure you that more people are waking up to the crooked nature of Newman. This is smoke and mirrors but the lid is slowly coming off in regards to how he became a wealthy man DURING his time in public service. And with a huge helping hand of the media who refused to acknowledge his conflicts of interests.

      • Lulz

        The media should stop being sellouts to cronies and start reporting how can one be in public office, vote on matters that financially benefits them, and gets away with it. Obviously the media is nothing more than an empty mouthpiece but sheesh, they’re not even pretending to be objective.

  1. Deplorable Infidel

    lulz…local ‘media’ are a big part of the problem here…they do not want the real truths exposed, but sometimes other outlets help out like

    AshevilleUnreported dot com …

    • Lulz

      I just did. Too bad these goons at MX can’t​ report like that. 300% over budget for New Belgium. But we both know council is filled with people that are economically challenged in the brains department.

  2. Beth

    Sunset the sales tax already. Just not impressed with ABTech’s transparency, leadership, community service, and building excess.

      • The Real World

        Lulz – curious….what region of the USA are you from and how many years have you been in WNC?

          • Lulz

            I know there’s a putdown coming but the spending along by outsiders who’s intended goal is to spend there way to prosperity while making life hard for residents is insane. The city does very little for the money it collects. And I’m about tired of subsidizing the county. There’s numerous ways to control spending yet two separate governments intent on expanding and also using tax money to benefit their friends or themselves is not what they are elected for. Nor should anyone seek office expressly for their own financial gain.

          • The Real World

            “Born in St Joseph’s” —- I don’t know what that means. Are you saying you were born here and have lived your life here?

        • Lulz

          These people in government have nothing to run on. What do they do for people that live here? Increase taxes and fees? For what? A park for tourist while hotels make bank. So Newman can funnel money to his interests and then proudly claim his Montford home is going to get creamed I’m the reevaluationa in order to try and identify​ with the population​. Well he might have a point except that he also benefits from those same taxes. Most don’t.

          • luther blissett

            “What do they do for people that live here?”

            Make you half a million dollars in equity, bucko. And you’re still not satisfied.

          • Lulz

            LOL but unlike New Belgium who overpaid greenway was gifted out of my pocket, my sidewalk is made up of dirt lulz. Oh and I spend my own money on top of the taxes to spray the weeds growing out of it lulz.

          • Lulz

            Maybe I should plant some dope there. At least I wouldn’t have to waste my own money killing the weeds. You think the city would get mad like they do air bmbs?

          • bsummers

            Maybe shoulda seen some other places in the world. I dunno, just sayin’…

          • The Real World

            Point is that from a person who has lived all your life in the Southeastern USA, I would think you’d know why this comment is the case, “Local mouthpieces avoid talking bad about these things”.

            It’s a cultural thing. Very, very much so. As one Southern friend explained it to me, “we were raised to be agreeable at all costs” (she then said she spent 2 years in therapy, at age 40, before she totally wrapped her head around the prices she was paying for that trained behavior). My view: being agreeable is nice; at all costs is not. But that’s how it is here.

            A vivid example of this distinct difference between the cultures of some regions in the USA is this: Gov Mark Sanford of S. Carolina abandons his post (and his family) for days, lies about where he went and is unreachable by staff! What do the obedient yokels of that state do? They let him keep his job — astonishing. He deserved to lose it. Not only that, in 2013, they elected him to Congress! Unbelievable.

            Contrast that to Gov Eliot Spitzer of NY who got caught in lengthy involvement with prostitutes and they forced him out. Same with Congressman Anthony Weiner of NY for his lewdness. AND, importantly, when each ran again for public office in 2013, they failed to win because the voters of that region have too much self-respect to let those laughing-stocks represent them. Spitzer and Weiner violated the trust their constituents gave them. So, that’s it, no more…is the way those voters see it.

            My point is: why are you surprised nothing changes; it’s the culture. They avoid the negative, avoid direct, honest communication, wrangle situations for their own purposes, exert extreme passive-aggressiveness and on and on. Hey Lulz — I’d suggest moving away if you don’t like the entrenched mentalities because it ain’t going to change; it’s the culture!

          • bsummers

            Of course, another way to interpret that “vivid example” is that Mark Sanford is a Republican, and Eliot Spitzer is a Democrat.

  3. The Real World

    bsummers comment makes no sense. He infers political leanings when the reality was local and distinct culture differences. Volumes of other examples can be provided.

    Lulz – you’re not living in the real world if you think all of your anonymous complaining is going to change a single thing. Heck, even if you switched to an open, targeted, solution-oriented approach, it won’t either (and I think you know that) because of what I’ve explained above.

    • Personal Attack

      3 days ago
      Maybe shoulda seen some other places in the world. I dunno, just sayin’…

      [“Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.”]

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