During its budget work session, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners heard requests from schools and fire districts while also considering multiple areas of community investment. The May 9 budget session was the last of a months-long process crafting the fiscal year 2024 (FY24) budget, which runs from July 1, 2023, through June 30, 2024.
Since the previous budget work session, staff made changes to the proposed second-pass budget. Staff has increased revenue projections by $2.86 million while reducing expenditures by $1.89 million. The changes would lead to a net impact of reducing the proposed spending plan by $4.74 million. The changes would have the proposed FY24 budget at $423,560,422, a 3.5% increase from the previous fiscal year. You can read more about budget updates here.
Multi-year financial outlook
Commissioners have not proposed any change to the current property tax rate of 48.8 cents per $100 of assessed property value. Based on that rate and other growth projections for the property tax base and sales tax revenues as well as projected expenditures, there is a forecast of an 11.1% fund balance to close out FY25, short of the required 15% by policy.
Based on those forecasts, staff projects the following financial outlook through FY25:
For more details about the multi-year outlook, click here.
Fire district tax rates
Buncombe County is home to 20 fire districts, with five requesting an increase to their FY24 tax rate. Those districts are:
- Enka-Candler: 1.5-cent increase from 10.50 to 12
- French Broad: 5-cent increase from 17.20 to 22.20
- Jupiter: 2-cent increase from 10.75 to 12.75
- Riceville: 2-cent increase from 14.60 to 16.60
- Upper Hominy: 2.44-cent increase from 16.56 to 19.00
The primary reasons for the tax increases are:
- Salary & benefit increases with retirement contributions
- New stations; repairs and maintenance to current facilities
- Vehicle & equipment replacement
County staff recommends approval of all five fire district tax increases. The following charts show the current and proposed tax rates for all 20 fire districts:
You can read more about the fire district tax rates here.
The Board of Commissioners provides local funding for the Asheville City and Buncombe County school districts along with A-B Tech Community College. The second pass budget has a total of about $115.3 million for all three education systems. This budget fully funds the salary study that Buncombe County Schools brought to the County last year. The current proposed levels of funding for the three education systems is as follows:
All three systems made presentations to Commissioners during the budget work session. Highlights include:
- A-B Tech is requesting additional funding of about $850,000 to the proposed $8.1 million for a total of about $8.9 million.
- Asheville City Schools is requesting a City school district tax increase from 10.62 cents to 12 cents, a 1.38-cent increase. ACS projects that would add $1.7 million to its budget. They are requesting an additional $4.7 million over last year’s funding.
- Buncombe County Schools is asking for additional funding of about $25.5 million to the proposed $90.3 million for a total of about $116 million.
You can read more about proposed education spending here.
Part of the Commissioners’ budget will be focused on continuing work on their 2025 Strategic Plan and its focus areas. Some of the ways the County is looking to invest in the community include:
- $3,892,756 for early childhood and development:
- Helping to ensure every child in Buncombe County has an equal opportunity to thrive during their first 2,000 days, including access to early childhood education. The funding would go to 16 organizations supporting 21 programs.
- $500,000 for Isaac Coleman grants:
- Targeted investments that are currently working toward eliminating racial disparities and to champion equitable opportunities. Five organizations would be funded.
- $100,000 for Tipping Point grants:
- Amplify community efforts toward building resiliency by funding 20 local organizations.
- $900,000 for Strategic Partnership grants:
- Support nonprofit organizations working toward outcomes in alignment the County’s adopted Strategic Plan by funding 22 organizations that support 23 programs.
- $644,477 for Juvenile Crime Prevention Council:
- To reduce and prevent juvenile crime by funding five organizations supporting six programs.
- $2,200,000 for Home and Community Care Block Grant and Buncombe County supplemental aging funds:
- To encourage and maintain independence for persons over 60 and provide protection for older adults by funding 15 organizations supporting 20 programs.
- $4,064,714 for affordable housing services program:
- To support public and private sector organizations to promote, preserve, and prioritize affordable housing within the County by funding nine organizations supporting 514 affordable housing units.
- $13,394,195 for affordable housing general obligation bond projects:
- To help support the goal of increasing affordable housing by funding four organizations that are helping provide 398 affordable housing units.
You can read more about proposed community investments here.
The County Manager will present the recommended budget at the Commissioners’ 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: