This news item expired on Wednesday, September 6, 2023 so the information below could be outdated or incorrect.
More than 100 new preschool enrollment slots were created thanks to help from investments by the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners. During a presentation on Sept. 6, Commissioners received an update on Early Childhood Education and Development Fund projects. That fund had just over $3.7 million last fiscal year, and the current budget is allocating $3.82 toward the fund, which is automatically increased by 2% every year.
The Early Childhood Committee works with community partners and the Board of Commissioners on policy and funding recommendations to help improve and increase kindergarten readiness. During the presentation, committee members discussed priority areas such as:
- Increasing slots for enrollment
- Increasing quality
- Developing and diversifying the early childhood workforce
- Supporting families
- Enhancing the overall effectiveness of the system
Committee members also highlighted some funded projects focused on teacher pay, construction of new classrooms, technology, student nutrition, and more. All projects receive quarterly evaluations to ensure they are making strides toward meeting their established goals. You can view those grant reports at BuncombeCounty.org/grants. For the previous fiscal year, 71% of all goals from 21 projects were achieved. Some examples of those goals include:
- Created 119 new enrollment slots
- Supported 551 existing slots
- 708 hours of behavioral therapy were provided
- 382 parents improved their education or income status
- 164 family learning kits were provided for kindergarten readiness.
Looking ahead, the committee says a new data project on kindergarten readiness will allow a more detailed understanding of disparities, trends, and successes that will allow for adjustments to investments and programming. You can view the Early Childhood Committee’s entire presentation here.
Labor Day proclamation
In honor of Labor Day, Commissioners presented Asheville Food and Beverage United with a proclamation declaring this Worker Appreciation Week. The organization works to support paid leave, schedule transparency, and other improved conditions for the service industry.
Earlier in the day, Commissioners were given a presentation about parking conditions in downtown Asheville. As inflation continues to rise, parking costs can represent a substantial expenditure for service industry workers. County staff presented Commissioners with a couple of options to help alleviate parking costs. Commissioners are slated to vote on the issue during their next meeting on Sept. 20.
Insurance benefit changes
Commissioners approved a new health care plan option for County employees. The move will give workers the option to enroll in a high-deductible plan with a health savings account. County staff also informed Commissioners of costs savings yielded by recent initiatives such as:
- BCBSNC discounts are averaging 50% of charges, saving $23.5 million over the last 12 months.
- Nurse Support Engagement increased, saving an estimated $361,600 in care cost avoidance.
- Net Results Formulary has saved $698,000 in the most recent 12 months.
Additional changes to the County’s health care plan include:
- The fully funded dental coverage with Delta Dental will see an 8% increase in premium costs, with a guarantee that premiums will not increase more than 6% for 2024.
- The County will change its whole life insurance vendor from VOYA to Transamerica for ease of enrollment and administration.
- The County will change its term life insurance and short term disability insurance from USAble to Lincoln Financial, gaining better terms and increasing the County paid Basic Term life insurance to 1X salary.
- The County will offer a new long-term disability option through Lincoln Financial (employee paid).
You can view the entire presentation on benefits here.
Resolution Designating Official Banking Depositories
Buncombe County is updating its official list of banking depositories. The County uses several banks for business transactions, and North Carolina law requires the Finance Officer to receive and deposit all monies in one or more official depositories approved by Commissioners. You can read the resolution approving the new list here.
Budget Amendment for FY2022 Budget Carryforwards
Commissioners approved carryforwards for fiscal year 2023. These are caused due to purchases made and services obligated in the previous fiscal year that were not delivered or completed by June 30, 2022.
The total amounts to be carried forward by fund are as follows:
- General Fund: $5,338,888
- Mountain Mobility Special Revenue Fund: $725,549
- Solid Waste Enterprise Fund: $16,249
$3,048,000 of the General Fund carryforwards will be transferred to the Special Projects Fund for economic development incentives. $73,006 will be transferred to the Grants Fund for the required match for the Safer Together Grant. You can see more detail from the ordinances here and here.