In a move that could put hundreds of dollars back in the pockets of service industry and retail workers’ pockets, the Board of Commissioners approved an affordable parking program during its meeting on Nov. 1. In an attempt to offset the aggregate cost of daily parking fees, this pilot program will offer a reduced monthly parking cost of $40 per month for qualifying individuals at the Coxe Ave. parking deck (located at 11 Sears Alley).
“We’ve got such a cool downtown, it’s such a vital place. But it’s really the workers that make this happen,” noted Commission Chair Brownie Newman. “It’s becoming more and more challenging… This is a practical thing we can do to make [parking] a more viable situation for our workforce.”
After hearing the proposed parking program at the Sept. 6 briefing, Commissioners directed staff to collect public input and received more than 600 survey results from downtown Asheville workers about the parking proposal. Some of the affordable parking program eligibility requirements are:
- Parking Passes may be purchased by individuals
- Program is subject to availability
- Applicants must provide proof of employment and income
- A lottery system will be used to determine who can purchase monthly passes
There will be 150 spaces available through the affordable parking program. Buncombe County will post more information and work with community and media partners to provide information about when the application process opens, eligibility requirements, and other details. You can read more about the affordable parking project here.
Operation Green Light
Did you know North Carolina is home to about 600,000 veterans? In honor of Buncombe County’s veterans, and those across the nation who have served in the military, the Courthouse building at 35 Woodfin St., and interior of 40 Coxe Ave. will be illuminated with green lights. The initiative is part of a nationwide effort called Operation Green Light, which is aimed at letting our veterans know they are seen, appreciated, and supported.
A major part of this effort is to connect our veterans with the resources they need. Buncombe County’s Veterans Services provides multiple resources and benefits. If you or someone you know is a veteran and need of disability, health care, vocational training, or other services, please contact Veterans Services at (828) 250-5726. The Buncombe County Veterans Treatment Court is an alternative to the conventional criminal justice system in which veterans who are struggling to acclimate back into civilian life and find themselves charged with an offense are met with the support, structure, and resources they need to settle into life after service. It is located on the ninth floor of the courthouse and can be reached at 703-389-9918.
Operation Green Light runs from Nov. 7-13, which is the week of Veterans Day on Nov. 11. You can read the Operation Green Light proclamation here.
Budget amendment for school capital fund commission FY23 project recommendations
Commissioners approved $31,185,440 for Asheville City and Buncombe County schools capital projects. Of that funding, $10,600,440 for Asheville City Schools, of which $4,440,920 will be used to increase the existing FY22 Herring project budget to complete HVAC repairs. Buncombe County Schools will get $20,585,000. The School Capital Fund Commission considers prioritized project requests from both school systems and recommends funding based on health, safety, legal requirements, cost, and improvement of the educational environment. Buncombe County will issue debt and will pay for the debt service using the Article 39 sales tax designated for the School Capital Fund Commission.
Additional projects include:
- Security upgrades
- Sewer upgrades
- Tennis courts
- Fire alarm replacement
- Tech infrastructure upgrades
You can view a complete list of projects here.
Work is underway for identifying next year’s priorities for the North Carolina General Assembly 2023 legislative session. No official priorities have been voted on, but Commissioners will continue to look at a tiered list before approving action items in January. As of now, some of the priorities include:
- Oppose any proposals that would limit Buncombe County's ability to regulate short-term rentals or online marketplaces.
- Seek legislation to allow differential property tax treatment of owner-occupied properties versus second homes or income-producing properties.
- Seek changes to Buncombe County's occupancy tax law.
- Seek state investment in broadband grant funding and simplification of broadband grant process.
- Seek state funding for K-12 and Community College education and related capital needs.
You can read more about the Commissioners’ legislative priorities here.
Financial quarterly reports
The Board of Commissioners received brief financial quarterly reviews from County staff. You can view those presentations here:
Scheduling note: the Board of Commissioners meeting scheduled for Dec. 6, 2022 has been rescheduled for Dec. 5, 2022.