With an eye toward bolstering the community’s education systems, human services, and resources for public safety, Commissioners unanimously approved next fiscal year’s budget during their meeting on June 15. The $512.5 million spending plan allows the County to continue to provide high-quality services and resources while advancing the 2025 Strategic Plan.
The three largest areas of spending are:
- $96.9M or 26.9% of the budget’s general fund toward education
- $88.4 or 24.5% of the budget’s general fund toward human services
- $73.1 or 20.3% of the budget’s general fund toward public safety
The 2022 fiscal year budget has a tax rate of 48.8 cents and goes into effect July 1. Highlights include:
- New Positions: This budget has 17 full-time positions and 11 part-time positions across 12 departments
- Equity: To ensure the successful pursuit of our equity-oriented goals, Buncombe County is investing in an Equity Officer as well as providing funding for training and community engagement in how the County can best implement an Equity Plan and deliver equitable services and practice.
- Improving Emergency Medical Services: In order to ensure quality-of-care and improve response time, Buncombe County will increase the size of the ambulance fleet by an additional ambulance, upfit existing ambulances with new stretchers, invest in a training officer, and provide funding to build our pool of as-needed paramedic staff.
- Comprehensive Facilities Plan: Buncombe County contracted in FY2021 for a comprehensive study of our County facilities in order to plan for and reduce maintenance costs, avoid leasing costs, and find the best use of space for providing customer service. This has yielded a 15-year plan for upgrading facilities and moving departments to where they can most effectively deliver services and make the best use of our buildings. This will result in newly identified Capital Projects beginning in FY2022.
- Maintenance: In FY2021, Buncombe County deferred more than $1 million of Information Technology upgrades and maintenance due to uncertainty about the impact the pandemic would have on the economy. This budget reestablishes funding to ensure that Buncombe County is able to proactively invest in IT infrastructure. Additionally, it also provides funding for General Services to address immediate concerns identified through the Comprehensive Facility Assessment.
- Contingency Funding: Budgeting contingency for unanticipated expenditures is a best practice. Buncombe County needed that contingency in FY2021 to address start-up costs of pandemic vaccination efforts. Budgeting this again for FY2022 will help provide reassurance for unanticipated circumstances.
- Comprehensive Plan 2043: In FY2021, Buncombe County approved the funding of a Comprehensive Plan, which identifies long-term community vision and a growth framework. Buncombe County began work on this plan in August and it will help define our needs around land use, infrastructure, and other key community needs over the next 20 years. This plan is certain to guide budgetary considerations as Buncombe County move forward.
- Broadband Expansion: This has been a need for much of Buncombe County and in FY2021, Buncombe County issued a request for proposals (RFP) to explore possibilities for expanding broadband. While North Carolina statute currently limits local government flexibility, Buncombe County staff is extremely hopeful that this legislation will be changed to accommodate Federal funding for broadband from the American Rescue Plan.
To learn more about the fiscal year 2022 budget, see the below budget resources.