On Tuesday, May 3, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners heard an airport report, issued County and school capital project limited obligation bonds, amended provisions of the Farmland Preservation Program, amended ordinances to comply with Session Law 2021-138 and amended budgets based on school average daily membership as well as occupancy tax and special districts.
Lew Bleiweis, Executive Director of the Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority provided an annual update that outlined accomplishments for the airport’s 60th year of operation. Those accomplishments included economic impact to the region of:
- Nearly $2 billion in economic impact to the region
- 12.5K local jobs with more than $400 million contributed to personal income
- $65 million contributed to state and local taxes
The Commissioners heard the Buncombe County Financial Quarterly Report for FY2022 for the quarter ending March 31. The report noted that General Fund budgeted revenues are $373.1 million and actual revenues as of March 31 are $317.9 million or 85.2% of budgeted revenue. Compared to last year at the same time, revenues are 8.6% above fiscal year 2021.
Following a public hearing that received no comment, the Board authorized the County to take the next step in issuing limited obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $155 million to fund approximately $26 million of County capital projects and $44 million of public school capital projects. The authorization also allows the County to take advantage of the low interest rate environment by issuing refinancing bonds of approximately $85 million. The refinancing of the outstanding 2014A limited obligation bonds will save the County approximately $6.6 million in debt service over the next 15 years. The Board will take action on this matter at its May 19 regular meeting.
The Board voted to send a Farmland Preservation District ordinance to the Ag Advisory Board before holding a Commission vote to bring it in line with Session Law 2021-78, which, among other things, refines the requirements to be certified as qualifying farmland. It also clarifies that the required proximity buffer from the boundary line of any farm enrolled in a Voluntary Agricultural District or an Enhanced Voluntary Agricultural District is 1/2 mile.
Following a presentation by the Buncombe County Legal Department, the Board voted to amend ordinances to Comply with Session Law 2021-138. In all, approximately 30 ordinances will be impacted. The ordinances will go into effect immediately following a future vote.
Finally, the Board approved two budget amendments:
- Adjustments for Economic Growth – Occupancy Tax and Special Districts Tax
- Public School Average Daily Membership Fund Adjustment for Growth
Buncombe County acts as a pass-through entity for distribution of occupancy tax revenues to the Tourism Development Authority. This amendment will increase available expense budget by $11,000,000 to ensure enough budget exists to pass through the growing occupancy tax revenues, along with the county's administrative collection fee.
For the FY2022 budget, the Board of Commissioners approved almost $9.4 million for budgeted sales tax revenues in the Special Taxing Districts Special Revenue Fund for distribution to Fire Districts. This estimate was based on available data at the time of budget development and the current year's growth has so far exceeded those expectations. This amendment will increase the available expense budget by an additional $1.5 million for estimated additional sales tax revenue for distribution to Fire Districts.
The Public School ADM Fund amendment will increase the available expense budget by $3,500,000 to accommodate for the distribution of sales tax proceeds to schools.
To view the full agenda and supporting documents, click here.