Complete Democratic control of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, a better-than-expected performance by Jasmine Beach-Ferrara and $70 million in new spending for county initiatives all emerged from this year’s midterm election results.
“I have met few people in my long life who have the wonderful combination of qualifications to lead as she has.”
“Having worked as a teacher in North Carolina since 1997, I can state without hesitation that we need county leaders who support us and recognize the challenges that we face.”
According to figures shared with the county Board of Commissioners by Dr. Shuchin Shukla, a physician and opioid crisis educator with the Mountain Area Health Education Center, Buncombe’s rate of overdose deaths has exceeded the statewide average since at least 2016. In 2021, the county suffered 45.2 deaths per 100,000 residents, compared with 35.8 deaths per 100,000 for North Carolina as a whole.
Al Whitesides, Anthony Penland, Martin Moore, Amanda Edwards and Don Yelton participated in the second of three Town Hall events.
Parents of children who attend Asheville High School, the School of Inquiry and Life Sciences at Asheville and Asheville Middle School tell Xpress the experience of a perimeter lockdown Sept. 1 was rattling, and assessment of that response was mixed.
The forum, hosted by the Council of Independent Business Owners, gave the candidates the opportunity to stake out their positions on a range of issues central to Buncombe County residents.
Requests outlined by Buncombe County Schools Superintendent Tony Baldwin and Asheville City Schools Superintendent Gene Freeman sought county government spending increases of up to $27.9 million, representing a nearly 32% jump from the county’s current contribution.
Buncombe will commit to creating or preserving between 2,800-3,150 affordable housing units by 2030, requiring new county investments of an estimated $54 million. Up to 1,850 of those units would be rental properties affordable to residents making 80% or less of the area median income.
Affordable housing, climate change, environmental protection and workforce apprenticeship programs were among the top focus areas identified by the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners during a Dec. 9 budget retreat at A-B Tech.
On Tuesday, Dec. 7, the county Board of Commissioners will consider creating three new planning positions at a cost of roughly $164,000 per year. The staffers would help manage feasibility studies as Buncombe pursues affordable housing on county-owned land.
In a unanimous vote, the county Board of Commissioners directed staff to maintain the county’s current library branches — including those in Black Mountain, Oakley/South Asheville and Swannanoa — and explore other ways to improve the system.
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners voted 6-1 for a resolution opposing Republican Sen. Chuck Edwards’ latest legislative move, an attempt to create district elections for Buncombe’s Board of Education.
While the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners did not make a formal commitment to any plan for the 137-acre site, several members expressed a desire for denser development focused on housing.
Projected capital investment costs for implementing the library plan total at least $81 million over the next 15 years, including nearly $18 million for a new 25,000-square-foot facility in Enka/Candler and over $16 million for a new building of the same size in West Asheville.
For the median home in Buncombe County — worth $231,400 before revaluation and $291,000 now — the new rate would boost taxes by over 16%, from $1,224 to $1,423 per year. The percentage increase is greater than the roughly 14% rise commissioners approved in 2017.
The ordinance drew over an hour of public comment, with the majority of speakers in favor of the law.
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners directed health staff to set aside 975 vaccine doses per week — half of the weekly 1,950 doses that North Carolina has been sending the county — for school employees starting Wednesday, Feb. 24.
Xpress contributor Mark Barrett unpacks the surprisingly static results to emerge from a politically tumultuous year in Western North Carolina.
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously on Oct. 6 to award $15,000 toward the construction of an agricultural education facility at Enka High School. But as Chair Brownie Newman noted, recommendations to support such projects are normally made by Buncombe’s School Capital Fund Commission or Board of Education and funded through the regular budget cycle.