“Buncombe County owes Mike Fryar a huge thank-you for his service of many years as a county commissioner, who personally led the way to save us millions of dollars by doggedly questioning and demanding answers to cost overruns and unlawful spending by county leadership …”
More Buncombe County voters — 81,887, or 41.79% of all eligible residents — took part in the primary elections that wrapped up March 3 than in any previous primary in the county’s history. Xpress outlines the winners and losers for levels of elected office from president to Asheville City Council.
At the recommendation of the Buncombe County Republican Party, the board is scheduled to appoint Anthony Penland to fill the District 2 vacancy left by the late Commissioner Mike Fryar during its regular meeting. Penland will face Democrat Jasmine Beach-Ferrara in November’s general election.
Candidates in the Democratic and Republican primaries for the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners seat give their answers for the Mountain Xpress voter guide.
Many public commenters urged the commissioners to act even more decisively on transitioning away from fossil fuels in the context of climate change. Chloe Moore with the Sunrise Movement referenced a scientific paper, published earlier that day, in which over 11,000 scientists from 153 countries declared a “climate emergency” and warned of “untold suffering due to the climate crisis” if stronger measures were not taken.
Buncombe County has identified over $2.9 million in solar energy projects that could be installed at government-owned facilities. The projects are estimated to generate more than $4.7 million in energy savings over their estimated 30-year operational lifespan and help the county reach its goal of powering all government operations with 100% renewable energy by 2030.
Nine residents spoke at the Oct. 1 meeting of the Board of Commissioners about the county’s new agreement with residential waste collection contractor Waste Pro, the second consecutive meeting at which the issue was on the agenda. All of the commenters were critical of the contract, which requires customers to use Waste Pro-provided carts for their trash and recycling.
Dane Pedersen, Buncombe County’s solid waste director, said many residents were confused over what would be included in the $19.21 monthly service fee. He explained that the cost covers the required rental of two containers from Waste Pro, one for trash and one for recycling, as well as weekly trash pickup and recycling collection every two weeks.
“The recent scandals about misspent economic development funds show that the game was really to create a pool of funds, which certain officials could dip into to spend tax money for their personal benefit.”
Beyond recruiting new companies such as Haakon Industries and Fox Factory, the Asheville-Buncombe County Economic Development Coalition supported workforce development and local startups during fiscal year 2018-19. The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners learned about the return on its $350,000 EDC investment at an Aug. 20 meeting.
Board chair Brownie Newman, Vice Chair Jasmine Beach-Ferarra and member Amanda Edwards have placed a resolution endorsing the Sheriff’s Office’s use of MAT on the commission’s agenda for Tuesday, Aug. 20. The treatment is currently offered to the jail’s pregnant female inmates, but Buncombe officials hope to expand its availability to all incarcerated individuals.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Over the protests of Republicans, who felt the allotment was too large and would put a burden on taxpayers, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners approved a multimillion dollar investment in early childhood education on Oct. 30.
Citing concerns about cost, commissioners decided Oct. 16 to stop using the services of a local attorney who had been advising the board on matters involving the federal criminal investigation into Wanda Greene and other former Buncombe County employees.
The Weaverville session was the first of three that Buncombe County will host to cover each of the board’s three election districts. District 2 Commissioners Mike Fryar and Ellen Frost were in the hot seat on Thursday evening.
Last month, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners approved moving forward with litigation against the opioid industry and now it officially has a federal lawsuit against pain pill manufacturers and distributors.
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners approved a measure to strip the chair’s ability to shepherd items onto the agenda in favor of solely giving that procedural power to a group of three or more commissioners.