On Monday, June 29, Buncombe County will open the majority of its public-facing offices. This move is the result of significant planning, consulting with public health officials, implementing disease transmission mitigation efforts, and more. During the COVID-19 pandemic, County staff continued to provide services for the community while also responding to the crisis. County staff provided modified services, such as drop boxes and virtual meetings, to allow for social distancing. These alternative means of accessing services will continue to be available, and the public is encouraged to continue to use services via those platforms when possible. However, if residents need to access County offices, they will be able to do so in a modified capacity starting June 29.
The safety of the public and our employees is a top priority as we transition to this next phase of operating. Below you will find a list of safety procedures in place to help keep residents and our employees safe.
What has changed?
Public health and safety officials audited our public-facing facilities to determine the safest way for County operations to be accessible to the public. As a result, here are some of the changes we have instituted:
- Installation of plexiglass barriers for public-based work
- Increased sanitation and cleaning of County facilities
- Public accessibility of hand sanitizer and disposable face coverings
- Social distancing markers and signage
- Comprehensive internal procedures for employees to foster a safe workplace, including a daily employee self-screening tool
Note: If you are visiting a County office, face coverings should be worn in accordance with the Stay Safe, Stay Smart order of May 22, 2020, which requires face coverings for individuals in all indoor public commercial facilities. Again, alternative means of accessing services are available, and the public is encouraged to continue to use services via those platforms when possible.
The following departments will open their facilities to the public on June 29:
- Ag and Land Resources (Soil and Water/Coop. Ext) - 49 Mount Carmel Road, Suite 101
- Air Quality - 52 Coxe Ave.
- Budget, Communications, County Manager’s Office, Finance, HR, Internal Audit, Legal, Performance Management, Sustainability - 200 College St.
- Permitting and Inspections - 30 Valley St.
- Planning & Development - 46 Valley St.
- Register of Deeds (Vital Records department is already open to the public), 205 College St.
- Strategic Partnerships - 35 Woodfin St.
- Tax Assessor - 155 Hilliard Ave.
Most open spaces, greenways, trails, and common park and recreation areas operated by Buncombe County have reopened. During Buncombe County’s Safer at Home Phase 2 emergency order, playgrounds, restrooms, fitness centers, picnic shelters, boat rentals, sporting events, recreation programs, and mass gatherings have been closed or restricted. When Buncombe County enters Phase 3, it will not be an immediate return to normal park operations. Additional mitigation measures and guidelines to maintain states of low to no community transmission are updated frequently on the department’s website and through signs at facilities. Buncombe County’s five outdoor pools reopened June 18 with new safety measures.
Beginning June 29, select branches will offer appointment-based visits. Updates on those branches will be announced on our website. All social distancing rules will be observed during library use. Curbside hold pickups and digital library services will continue. Free Wi-Fi is available in every library parking lot and library cards can be issued by emailing email@example.com. For help with any service, please call (828) 250-4700.
The Tax Collections Office is anticipated to reopen in July. Significant changes were needed to expand the lobby to allow for social distancing.
The office at 77 McDowell Ave. is open to the public if you are returning an absentee by-mail ballot. For all other services, there is a dropbox in the entry way, a buzzer to ask questions, and Election Services staff is available for questions at (828) 250-4200. Board of Elections meetings are being held virtually, find out how to attend at buncombecounty.org/vote.
All other County departments remained open or reopened prior to this announcement.