Buncombe County’s Health and Human Services (HHS) Department is celebrating its recent statewide accolade of winning the prestigious Dr. Sarah Morrow Health Department of the Year award. The Board of Commissioners honored this outstanding achievement during its meeting on Oct. 4. The award celebrates the County’s commitment to innovation, service, equity integration, and more. You can read about HHS’s achievement here.
Clean air excellence award
In other news about County employees earning recognition for their work, the County’s Strategy & Innovation Department is the recipient of this year’s Clean Air Excellence Award. The honor comes from the department’s work to update the County’s flexible work policy, which reduced commuting by 4.1 million miles leading to a reduction of fuel consumption by 169,473 gallons annually. This has resulted in an estimated decrease of 2,010.7 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year.
National Manufacturing Week & Day proclamation
Over the past ten years, regional manufacturers have invested more than $1.3 billion in capital investment projects. October is a time to highlight the role manufacturing plays in Buncombe and our region. As such, Commissioners approved a proclamation declaring a National Manufacturing Week and Day. The proclamation reads in part: “Buncombe County is home to over 375 manufacturing firms specializing in a wide range of products including automotive and heavy-duty truck components, aviation components, food and beverage, plastics, healthcare devices, printing, and more. And over the past five years manufacturing jobs have increased by more than 13% in Buncombe County adding 1,500 jobs.” You can read the entire proclamation here.
Budget amendment to establish six conservation easement projects
Nearly 600 acres of County land will be preserved for future generations as Commissioners approved funding for six conservation easements. The move is in line with the goal of preserving 20% of all County land by 2030. The following will be placed into easements:
- Fisher Farm, 70 acres in Asheville $55,000
- Harlan/Dizoff Farm, 50 acres in Barnardsville $48,000
- David Roger's Farm, 22.3 acres in Leicester $ 35,000
- Roger's Family Trust Farm, 156.1 acres in Leicester $ 66,000
- Roberson/Weaver Farm, 58 acres in Weaverville $45,000
- Camp Woodson Phase II, 234 acres in Fairview $135,000 (Easement Purchase) (Funding for Camp Woodson Phase I was approved last fiscal year)
No new funding is required for these initiatives as funding will come from the current fiscal year’s conservation easement project funds. You can view maps of the new easements here.
Budget amendment for FY23 opioid settlement funds financial plan
Commissioners approved $458,500 for the County’s response to the ongoing opioid epidemic. The funding comes from the Opioid Settlement Fund stemming from a class action lawsuit. After gathering community feedback about priorities, the County is looking to start projects based on strategies that emerged as top issues for the community:
- Collaborative strategic planning
- Evidence-based addiction treatment
- Recovery support services
- Recovery housing support
- Early intervention
- Reentry programs
County staff has also identified a need for additional access to the opioid overdose reversal drug Naloxone. For additional information on the North Carolina opioid settlements, click here.
Budget amendment for FY23 A-B Tech stormwater projects and FY20 A-B Tech Enka Technology Commercialization Center roof replacement
Commissioners are investing in our community college with funding for two A-B Tech projects. The first is $1 million for stormwater remediation that will create a management master plan that will identify priority projects.
The second project is a new roof for the school’s Enka Technology Commercialization Center. This project was originally slated to begin in 2020 but was delayed due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. The original cost for the updated roof and associated work was $1.7 million. Due to delays in construction, rising material costs, and additional needs for the project, Commissioners approved an additional $4.1 million. All of the funding might not be required as it represents the County’s guaranteed cost maximum of $5.7 million. You can read more about the project here.
Tax collection report
Buncombe County tax collections are outpacing the previous fiscal year’s effort. As of August, FY23 has a collection rate of 9.25%, up from 7.92% from this time last year. Additionally, County staff reached a settlement with Mission Health/HCA about the valuation of two properties that will lead to the healthcare organization having a $1.2 million tax credit.
For more information about Buncombe County’s programs that allow you to pay your property tax over time, click here.