The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners took its first look at the second pass budget during a workshop on April 25. The session focused on revenue, grant-funded positions, year-end projections, and more. This work is for the upcoming fiscal year 2024 (FY24) that runs from July 1, 2023, through June 30, 2024.
For FY24, Buncombe County will have eight grants worth $2,639,000 in funding set to expire. The lapse would affect 12 County grant-funded positions and 18 contracted positions. County staff has been working to renew some of those grants while finding other streams of revenue such as the opioid settlement to help with those contract positions. The FY24 second pass budget recommends that three grant positions be funded with opioid settlement money and also recommends three grant positions be funded in FY24 budget. You can read more about the grant-funded positions update here.
Elections capital outlay request
Election Services is looking to upgrade its equipment. After researching options, staff says expanding ExpressVote machine offerings is the best choice fiscally and logistically. The ExpressVote machines are currently being used for ADA equipment at all County voting sites. The additional machinery would cost $604,225. Some additional benefits of the ExpressVote machines include:
- Reducing voter check-in time at voting locations
- Removing the need for printing individual ballots that are manually marked by voters
- Increasing accuracy by eliminating hand-marking mistakes such as bubbling too many options, marking illegibly, or not flipping over the ballot
- Precinct reported results will be available immediately instead of 30 days after the election
You can read more about the elections capital outlay request here. View a demonstration of ExpressVote during the Jan. 17, 2023, Board of Elections meeting here.
FY23 year-end projections
With FY23 set to end on June 30, staff presented Commissioners with year-end projections. For FY23, the County budgeted $408.9 million in expenditures, $386 million in revenues and $22.9 million of appropriated fund balance.
In the latest projection, the County looks to bring in $390.9 million or 101.3% of the projected budget revenues. Most of the revenue comes from property tax, sales tax, and intergovernmental revenue.
Meantime, expenditures are projected to come in under the FY23 budget of $408.9 million at $390.2 million, or 95.4% of projected expenditures. The three largest spending categories include salaries and benefits, program support, and operating costs.
The overall forecast for FY23 results in about a $600,000 surplus, which will go toward the fund balance. You can read more about FY23 year-end projections here.
FY24 second-pass budget
After input from Commissioners during a work session on the first-pass budget, County staff presented its second-pass budget, which cut 22 proposed positions. This version of the spending plan would have $425.4 million in expenditures with the following changes between the FY23 budget and the proposed second-pass budget:
The second-pass budget has $401.9 million tabbed in revenues with property tax, sales tax, and intergovernmental fees making up the three largest categories with a forecasted increase of $15.9 million. You can see the variance between the proposed second-pass budget and FY23’s numbers below:
You can see the second-pass budget’s proposed expenditures and revenues in more detail here.
Commissioners asked staff to research how much it would cost to have 100% of County employees make the Just Economics living wage of $20.10 per hour. The Board also expressed interest in staff looking at working with the City of Asheville on a public transportation study aimed at improving bus service and potentially discovering alternative ways to help people with transportation needs. Commissioners are not inclined to support additional sales tax for transportation at this time. Lastly, Commissioners asked staff to present how the County’s remaining ARPA funding could be used before it expires. To view a recap of the budget work session, visit facebook.com/buncombegov.
Commissioners will hold their next budget workshop on May 9 to meet with fire districts and education partners. The County Manager will present the recommended budget at the May 16 meeting. A public hearing on the proposed budget is set for June 6 ahead of Commissioners voting to adopt the spending plan on June 20.
Previous budget meetings: