At its Aug. 16 regular meeting, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution establishing a general obligation bonds community oversight committee. If approved by voters on Nov. 8, a housing bond and an open space bond would generate $40 million and $30 million respectively, and the community oversight committee would monitor the ongoing investment of those bond dollars.
Commissioner Al Whitesides gave his support for the committee: “Over the years, we’ve had several bond issues in both the city and county, and one of the complaints has been transparency… this is one of the areas where we can’t have too many sets of eyes.”
If one or both bonds are approved by voters, the Community Oversight Committee will have four Board-appointed members: one person with an accounting background, one person with a banking background, one representative of the affordable housing community, one representative from the conservation/greenways community. In addition, one member will be appointed by the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce.
The Community Oversight Committee will review the investments made from the bond revenues to confirm that 100% of bond funds are invested in accordance with law and for the purposes indicated on the ballots. Committee members will serve until all bond funds have been committed.
If approved by voters, the two bonds would:
- Generate $30 million for the capital costs of acquisition and improvement of land or interests therein for conservation and protection of natural resources and preservation of farmland, including but not limited to, the development of greenways and trails for recreation purposes
- Generate $40 million for investments in housing for the benefit of persons of low or moderate income, including construction of related infrastructure improvements and the acquisition of related land and rights-of-way
Background: At its June 7 regular meeting, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners held public hearings on the proposed general obligation bonds for open space and housing. Following the public hearings, the Board of Commissioners voted to approve the resolution setting a special bond referendum. Next, the language for the referendums will go to the Board of Elections in order to appear on the Nov. 8 ballot.
At its May 3 regular meeting, the Board of Commissioners approved three resolutions, which are required for the issuance of General Obligation Bonds in order to pursue the referendums.
At its April 19 briefing, the Board of Commissioners heard a feasibility study from the Trust for Public Land on a possible referendum to generate funding for housing and for conservation and protection of natural resources and preservation of farmland. Funded by the Merck Family Fund and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the study shows support for $30 million of bond funds for open space, and $40 million of bond funds for housing. If approved by voters this November, a $30 million bond would cost typical households a maximum of $14 a year for 20 years, and a $40 million bond would cost typical households a maximum of $18 a year for 20 years.
For more information about the housing and open space bonds, go to www.buncombecounty.org/2022bonds.