The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners kicked off the budget planning process for the 2025 fiscal year (FY25) with a review of capital planning, fleet budgeting and electric vehicle infrastructure, the reserves policy, recurring expenditures and revenues, and current community commitments.
After reviewing capital planning projects, Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara shared an area for focus moving forward: “One issue I would want us to be elevating is essential services when it comes to public safety.”
Commissioner Al Whitesides reiterated the commitment to public safety and community wellbeing: “We’ve got to look at things like EMS. We’ve got to think about pre-K. These are things we know we’ve got to do to make life better for people who live here… We’ve got to continue to look at the tax rate – that’s going to be critical.”
Jackie Hamstead with the Buncombe County Sustainability Office presented an update on fleet budgeting and electric vehicle infrastructure, outlining the County’s goals to transition to low-emission vehicles and include electric vehicle charging infrastructure in all County facility renovations or new construction projects. “This is a whole new model that’s being created and think about our role,” said Chair Brownie Newman. “In the big picture, this is a moderate investment to really accelerate those investments.”
Following the fleet and electric vehicle infrastructure discussion, Finance Director Melissa Moore walked commissioners through establishing a reserves policy. Commissioner Al Whitesides asked, “By having a reserve policy, will that allow us to help protect our AAA bond rating?” “It will,” Moore explained, “because as you continue to issue more debt, your investors are going to expect you to have larger reserves.”
During the recurring expenditures and revenues presentation, Budget Director John Hudson walked commissioners through the “costs of doing business,” which account for around 94 percent of the General Fund. These include training, supplies and equipment, contracted services, maintenance and repair, utilities, staff salaries and benefits, program support, direct assistance, grants from the County, transfers for commitments, education, and debt. Since FY19, ad valorem property tax makes up 62-65% of General Fund revenue, sales tax makes up 10-12 percent, and intergovernmental revenues make up 12-14 percent. Sales and service makes up 5-6 percent of General Fund revenue.
Director of Strategic Partnerships Rachael Nygaard shared current community commitments, including peer-to-peer literacy program AVL Rise. Current community commitments also include the homeowner grant program and the septic repair program.
Next steps for the FY25 budget:
- March 26 – Board of Commissioners Budget Work Session
- April 23 – Board of Commissioners Budget Work Session
- May 9 – Board of Commissioners Budget Work Session
To watch the full budget retreat, go to www.facebook.com/buncombegov.