Local advocates say they are skeptical that yet another study will make a difference.
More than a year after the waters have receded, less than half of state funds assigned to help those in need have been allocated for specific work. That’s according to a presentation by the N.C. Office of State Budget and Management slated to come before the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners Tuesday, Sept. 20.
About 100 people attended the Sept. 8 event — the first of its kind hosted by the Asheville Area Riverfront Redevelopment Commission — at New Belgium Brewing Co. The gathering was prompted by recent reports on the French Broad River’s economic importance and bacterial contamination.
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.
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.
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.
At the recommendation of the county board’s Environment & Energy Stewardship Subcommittee, which includes board Chair Brownie Newman along with Commissioners Parker Sloan and Terri Wells, members will vote on whether to commit to conserving 20% of Buncombe’s total acreage by 2030.
Conducted by the ETC Institute, a Kansas-based consultancy, a recent survey aimed to evaluate resident perceptions of the county and its administration.
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.
Two interlocal agreements up for consideration by the Board of Commissioners Oct. 5, to be signed with the town of Black Mountain and UNC Asheville, would allow those entities to combine their solar energy proposals with new county solar projects in a bid for installers.
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.
The largest single grant of $4 million will support broadband infrastructure expansion in unserved areas of the county. Brownie Newman, chair of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, said that investment would leverage an additional $6 million from the state of North Carolina and private broadband providers.
Currently, Buncombe recommends indoor masking as a response to COVID-19 but has instituted no legal mandate. The city of Asheville also plans to reinstate a similar requirement, while rules in other county municipalities would be left to their governing bodies.
The two rural areas in the county’s northwest and southeast emerged as the biggest pockets of need after an extensive analysis by county staff of high-speed internet availability. A contract with an internet provider to expand service could go before the Board of Commissioners in July.
The ordinance drew over an hour of public comment, with the majority of speakers in favor of the law.
The funds, equal to roughly a quarter of budgeted property tax revenue for the current fiscal year and more than its budgeted spending on general government administration, represent by far the largest pot of federal support yet provided to the county during the pandemic.
Because the monument stands on city property, Asheville City Council will have the ultimate say; Council is expected to take that vote at its regular meeting on Dec. 8.
Buncombe County Board of Commissioners Chair Brownie Newman lists land use policy as a top priority for the new commission, sworn in on Dec. 7. Board members will likely revisit the county’s land use plan, a document originally developed in 1998 and last updated in 2013, in response to rapid community growth.
Sandra Kilgore, Sage Turner and Kim Roney will officially become Asheville City Council members on Tuesday, Dec. 1. And on Dec. 7, newcomers Terri Wells and Parker Sloan will be sworn in to the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners alongside returning incumbents Jasmine Beach-Ferrara and Brownie Newman.
Xpress has compiled election night summaries for each of the contests previously included in our general election voter guide. The Buncombe County Board of Elections will not officially certify results until Friday, Nov. 13, and the state board will not issue certification until Tuesday, Nov. 24.