Where’s the fat in Buncombe County’s budget?

On Jan. 10, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners held a “continued meeting” to discuss the results of a countywide compensation study. Although the report only looked at five job classes within the Human Services Department, the study broadly concluded that Buncombe pay is in line with larger North Carolina counties.

An earlier study on local government costs by a N.C. think tank concluded that Buncombe County government costs are more than 30 percent higher per-county resident than the average county. This translates to each Buncombe County resident paying $397.00 extra each year in “excess” taxes. A Buncombe County family of four is currently paying $1588.00 in excess taxes each year to cover the higher cost of government in Buncombe County.

If one assumes the compensation study conclusions are correct, then one must ask, “Where’s the fat?” What departments are causing Buncombe County costs to be so high? If salaries are in line (as this report concludes), are benefit costs out of line? Are operating budgets too high? Are there too many employees? What about the other departments — were they included in the study? The taxpayers of Buncombe County deserve answers to these important questions.

— Linda Southard

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