Potentially without review by other county staff members or commissioners, former County Manager Wanda Greene cut Stacey Woody’s pay by nearly $16,000 after Woody questioned an allegedly illegal $125,000 invoice for sponsorship of the Tryon International Equestrian Center. The relevant section of Buncombe’s personnel ordinance still stands, giving the same power to current County Manager Avril Pinder.
Leadership Asheville pulled in some high-octane local speakers for the final installment of its summer Buzz Breakfast series held on Aug. 14. The composition of the panel reveals some key trends shaping the power dynamic that’s emerged over the past year.
Habitat plans to use the money to provide down payment assistance for 38 affordable housing units at its proposed Old Haywood Road neighborhood in West Asheville. Households earning 80% or less of the area median income ($52,800 for a family of four) would receive $20,000 toward a home purchase.
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.
At the Black Mountain Public Library on July 23, Sheriff Quentin Miller spoke to roughly 35 people in the first of five planned listening sessions meant to build relationships with community members around public safety. Topics included compliance with Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers, school resource officers and transparency in the Sheriff’s Office.
County Manager Avril Pinder recommended no substantive changes to Buncombe’s fiscal year 2019-20 budget following a June 4 public hearing, and board members are scheduled to vote on the spending plan. The budget contains over $9.1 million in general fund capital spending, roughly $7.58 million of which will be financed through debt.
Most of the 16 public commenters at the June 4 Buncombe County Board of Commissioners hearing on the budget made the case for allocations beyond the roughly $334.52 million in suggested general fund spending. Libraries, schools and nonprofits all approached commissioners for more money.
Although County Manager Avril Pinder warned commissioners in April that her recommended budget might cause the county to dip below its policy-recommended fund balance of 15%, the projected difference between Buncombe’s assets and liabilities remains over that bar in the most recent version.
Buncombe’s current policy, said County Manager Avril Pinder, requires a fund balance of at least 15%, or $47.35 million. However, the projected fiscal 2020 budget would put the balance at 14.76%, and if a $5.25 million sale of county property on Ferry Road is delayed or falls through, the balance could drop to as little as 13.09%.
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.