Funding for teachers, early childhood education, and McCormick Field are three of the top priorities for Buncombe County during the 2023 North Carolina legislative session. During their meeting on Feb. 7, Commissioners unanimously approved hiring governmental relations firm Ward & Smith with a $75,000 contract. The firm will help develop the 2023 Legislative agenda to help achieve multiple funding and policy issues including:
- Seeking additional state funding and/or direct earmarks for water quality, flood resiliency, and stormwater mitigation projects in the French Broad River basin.
- Seeking state funding for state employees, including K-12 and Community College education, and related capital needs.
- Opposing any proposals that would limit local government's ability to regulate short-term rentals or online marketplaces.
- Continuing to evaluate methods to modernize NC House Occupancy Tax guidelines to meet the evolving visitation and infrastructure needs of Buncombe County.
You can read the entire legislative priorities list here.
Resolution authorizing audit to ensure compliance with applicable regulations, statutes, and local requirements to cease harm impacting the African American community
In its continuing efforts to support work by the Community Reparations Commission (CRC), the Board approved a resolution to develop an official audit to help cease harm impacting the African American community. The recommendation comes from the CRC and the City of Asheville has approved a similar resolution. The goal of the audit is to have a third-party firm ensure the County is in compliance with all federal and state laws, regulatory bodies, codes of conduct, court orders, and consent decrees. Specifically, the audit will look at potential issues in education, health care, housing, economic development, and justice.
The proposed timeline is to have the audit complete by the summer of this year, with the next step being a thorough review of findings by the County, City, and CRC. Following the review, the CRC will prioritize action item recommendations with monthly progress updated throughout the process. You can view the presentation here and read the resolution here.
Commissioners honor Distinguished Budget Presentation award
For the 27th year in a row, Buncombe County’s Budget team is being honored with the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Distinguished Budget Presentation award for its work on the 2023 adopted budget.
The Distinguished Budget Presentation Award reflects the commitment of the governing body and staff to meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting. To receive the budget award, staff had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation. These guidelines are designed to assess how well an entity’s budget serves as a:
- Policy document
- Financial plan
- Operations guide
- Communications device
To earn the award, budget documents must be rated as proficient or outstanding in all four categories, and in 14 mandatory criteria within those categories.
Resolutions to reimburse capital expenditures
Commissioners approved a reimbursement resolution that designates the Finance Director to declare, on behalf of the Commissioners, their official intent to reimburse expenditures with proceeds of debt. The County anticipates spending operating funds for various projects, then reimbursing the County in amounts not to exceed the amounts outlined below:
- $47 million: School and County projects from limited obligation bond series
- $16 million: Affordable housing projects from $40 million GO bond authorization
- $5.6 million: Open space projects from $30 million GO bond authorization.
According to IRS regulations, counties must adopt a reimbursement resolution in order to spend currently available funds on capital projects that will be financed by the later issuance of bonds. This move allows the County to move forward with the projects and later issue bonds for the fiscal year once the actual project costs have been determined by bidding and possible change orders. You can read more about the resolutions here.
Resolution supporting the County Board of Education’s control of local school calendars
Commissioners unanimously approved throwing their weight behind a Buncombe County Board of Education resolution. That resolution supports an amendment to the current school calendar law and requests that local school boards have more flexibility in the start date of the school calendar and urges the General Assembly to grant local boards of education greater calendar flexibility. You can read the Commissioners’ resolution in support of the School Board here.
Budget amendment for special projects fund
Commissioners unanimously approved a budget amendment for the Special Projects Fund. Previously, Commissioners established $2 million to fund community reparations efforts in the General Fund. These amendments move those dollars to the Special Projects Fund to ensure and track long-term funding of these efforts. You can view the ordinance here.