“The path we’re on right now is a collision that puts us backwards and actually takes classrooms offline,” said Buncombe County Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, regarding the Asheville City Schools plan to relocate preschool classrooms from Asheville Primary School to other elementary schools and Asheville Housing Authority developments.
Of Buncombe County’s roughly 1,600 employees, 465 are currently working remotely, and 283 have said they would continue to do so indefinitely if allowed. If those employees remained remote, the county would need about 22,700 fewer square feet of office space, allowing for more services to be consolidated in fewer buildings.
Al Whitesides, the sole Black member of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, and his three Democratic colleagues approved the resolution over the opposition of the board’s three Republicans. The county government is now aligned with Asheville City Council, which unanimously passed a similar measure on July 14.
After the city of Asheville enjoyed widespread national and international press for adopting a resolution in support of reparations for the Black community on July 14, Buncombe County may be next in line.
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners remained divided along partisan lines. Chair Brownie Newman and his three Democratic colleagues voted for the removal of Confederate monuments at Pack Square Park and the county courthouse, as well as establishing a task force on the Vance Monument, while Republicans Joe Belcher, Anthony Penland and Robert Pressley voted against those moves.
The proposed general fund budget of nearly $335.65 million marks a 1.1% decrease from the current fiscal year’s $339.46 million total. To support those expenditures, the county would use more than $11.33 million of its fund balance, down roughly 23% from the $14.79 million in reserves spent this year.
Restaurants, pools and personal care services — including salons and barber shops — will be allowed to open at 50% capacity, while child care facilities, day camps and overnight camps can open with “enhanced cleaning and screening requirements.”
During their Dec. 3 meeting, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners were told that while corrective measures to right years of financial mishandling are beginning to take hold, the county’s most recent audit still reflects the previous mismanagement.
The board tagged a higher overall population, greater burdens associated with chronic health conditions and obesity, growing racial gaps in academic achievement, a rising jail population, loss of farmland, higher housing costs and increased public health care spending as high-certainty, high-impact trends.
Republican members of the board argued that their Democratic colleagues were out of place in issuing official letters against pending state HB 370, which would require Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller and other sheriffs throughout North Carolina to comply with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests on penalty of removal from office.
The county’s strategic thinking on tourism, explained Director of Intergovernmental Projects Tim Love, has focused on “the circulation of tourists to our unique, eclectic and vibrant community destinations.” That mission is driving Buncombe’s current input on the Tourism Development Authority’s Tourism Management & Investment Plan.
Through medication-assisted treatment, inmates with opioid addiction could receive drugs such as naltrexone or buprenorphine, in conjunction with counseling and therapy, to help them avoid returning to dangerous substances such as heroin or fentanyl.
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners got its first look at the county’s fiscal year 2020 budget at a noon meeting originally announced to review the agenda for the board’s 5 p.m. regular meeting on April 16.
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to appoint Avril Pinder, the former deputy county manager for New Hanover County, to the role of county manager during a special meeting on Feb. 5. The county anticipates that her first day will be Monday, March 4.
“Our data tells us that we are doing a disservice to our black students, and you can’t say it any plainer than that,” said Shaunda Sandford, chair of the Asheville City Board of Education.
You asked, they answered: sage advice from Buncombe County Commissioner Al Whitesides, Dr. Carl Mumpower (chair of the Buncombe County GOP), Abby Roach (aka The Spoon Lady), former City Council member Cecil Bothwell, Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer and Asheville City Council member Julie Mayfield.
Buncombe County Board of Commissioners members expressed their concerns over the city’s impending requests for county funds to expand its Asheville Redefines Transit service. “This is Buncombe County; it’s not the city of Buncombe,” said Commissioner Mike Fryar.
Despite projections showing it could cost more than initially estimated, the long-awaited renovations to the East Asheville Library, located at 902 Tunnel Road, received unanimous approval on Nov. 20 from the Board of Commissioners.
Commissioners voted Oct. 16 to put a 40-hour cap on the number of hours employees can sell back to the county, a decision that could save the county about $370,000 per year.