The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners approved the proposal — including over $334.5 million in general fund spending, the portion primarily funded by property taxes — in a 6-1 vote at its June 18 regular meeting. Only Commissioner Mike Fryar cast his vote in opposition to the plan.
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.
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.
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.
Under the new contract, according to a presentation by county Solid Waste Director Dane Pedersen available before the meeting, all customers would receive trash and recycling containers from Waste Pro as part of a $19.21 monthly service fee. Currently, customers pay a $16.08 base fee and can rent containers for an optional $3.80 per month.
Minneapolis-based CliftonLarsonAllen conducted roughly 2,700 hours of work — over three times its original estimate of 885 hours — from July 1 through May 14, when CLA principal Bill Early presented the results to the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners.
While Buncombe County’s current proposed budget includes nearly $3.6 million in new education funding, total requests from local systems on May 7 came to roughly $8.16 million. That figure includes $1.06 million more for A-B Tech, $2.09 million for Asheville City Schools and $5.01 million in increased funding for Buncombe County Schools.
Speaking at the board’s April 30 budget work session, Chair Brownie Newman emphasized that education officials shouldn’t count on “automatic” growth of county support. “I think they should have to justify all of it,” he said.
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 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.
“This is a wise decision by the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners if the Medic private EMS service contract is structured to best service Medicare beneficiaries.”
Under the revised policy, all certified 501(c) nonprofits registered in Buncombe County would be able to buy property appraised at less than $30,000 for its fair market value, first come first served, during the 10 days after its declaration as surplus. Only after that window has passed would the property be listed online for perusal by the general public.
“Oversight in this kind of system — where the board is appointed by a body with no regulatory authority, in a process closed to school employees, families and the community as a whole — is more than a little messed up. It is completely unaccountable, open to all kinds of corruption and anti-democratic, not to mention a lousy use of resources.”
After approving the franchise in a split vote during their meeting on March 5, county commissioners will vote on contract terms to allow private ambulance provider Medic to respond to emergency calls when one of the company’s units is closest to an incident. The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners will meet on Tuesday, March 19.
In Buncombe County, manufactured housing is limited to certain zoning designations, but the county planning board recently voted in favor of an amendment that would expand the list of areas where manufactured homes would be allowed. The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing about the change in the coming weeks.
Although some commissioners remain concerned the agreement could cut into revenue generated by local volunteer fire departments, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners decided in a 4-3 vote on March 5 to grant an expanded franchise to private EMS service Medical Emergency Ambulance, also called Medic. Commissioners Brownie Newman, Jasmine Beach-Ferrara and Amanda Edwards voted in the minority.
In an effort to address what he sees as needs in the department, which includes increasing the number of patrol officers, Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller asked the board for additional funding to pay for 21 new positions and an increase in the number of vehicles that the county refreshes on an annual basis. The sheriff’s office anticipates that the requests would produce a total recurring cost of approximately $3.2 million per year.
On Tuesday, March 5, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners will consider a proposal to award an updated franchise to Medic, allowing the company to use the county’s 700 mhz radio system and respond to calls when its ambulance crews are closest to an incident.
Commissioners voted 4-3 to approve a plan that dedicates $3.13 million in Article 46 tax revenues in fiscal year 2020 for capital expenses at the college. The money would keep coming in each of the next seven years, increasing 5.5 percent annually to account for anticipated increases in construction costs. The county would also cap transfers from Article 46 tax revenue to the general fund at $5 million and would limit the use of that money to operations at A-B Tech.