Poverty rate graphics for Buncombe County

Buncombe leaders talk rising poverty, county economy

According to data presented by Tim Love, Buncombe’s director of economic development and governmental relations, the county’s poverty rate went up from about 11.5% in 2018 — its lowest point in a decade — to about 13.9% in 2020, the latest year for which information was available. Poverty in both North Carolina and the overall U.S. fell over the same period.

Ori Baber

Commission­ers consider equity through reparation­s, property taxes

The county’s ad hoc reappraisal committee, tasked with reviewing allegations that Buncombe’s tax assessment process was unfair to low-income residents and communities of color, presented its recommendations to the board. And commissioners approved annual funding for reparations, honoring a request from the joint Asheville-Buncombe Community Reparations Commission.

Phillip Hardin, Buncombe County's economic services director

Buncombe commission­ers tweak homeowner grant eligibilit­y

Mobile-home owners can now receive the grants, while those who own multiple dwellings or receive other tax reductions will no longer be eligible. Those with “liquid resources” (cash or financial assets that could be converted to cash within a week) of more than $60,000 will also be disqualified, a change from the terms recommended by county staff.

Buncombe County budget graphic, expenditures by function.

Buncombe school staff urge commission­ers to increase pay

“We still have to work other jobs to make ends meet,” said Melanie Allen, a 26-year veteran of BCS’ technology department. “We’re struggling. We feel like nobody cares. Morale is low. We have watched other counties and agencies enable steps and raises. We’re keep thinking we’re next, that we’ll be able to make it. Then nothing happens.”

Buncombe COVID-19 case graph

Buncombe continues mask mandate amid record COVID spread

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners members unanimously voted Jan. 4 to extend the county’s indoor mask mandate through Wednesday, Feb. 16. The extended mask requirement does not contain any language regarding enforcement, nor does it specify the type of face covering that residents should wear, despite health experts saying cloth masks are insufficient against the omicron variant of the coronavirus.