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Commissioners Approve FY24 Budget, Provide Additional Support to School Systems Via One-Cent Tax Increase

Buncombe County Commissioners are prioritizing teacher salaries for the County’s two public K-12 school systems with approval of the fiscal year 2024 budget, which runs from July 1, 2023-June 30, 2022. The spending plan was approved during their meeting on June 20 and includes a one-cent increase on property tax that will be largely dedicated to education. Asheville City and Buncombe County school systems have both asked for increases, and Commissioners approved moving the tax rate from 48.8 cents to 49.8 cents per $100 of assessed value. Staff estimates the move will generate an additional $5.1 million, and this additional funding will allow the Board of Commissioners to have the flexibility to match state salary increases and supplement teacher salaries following the approval of the state’s budget. The funding formula for education is an annual increase equivalent to the unrestricted revenue growth rate, which is 3.35% this year. Plus, the budget will support the second stage of Buncombe County Schools’ salary study. The overall amount for the general fund is $430,420,441, a 5.2% increase from the previous budget year. 

“We don’t take raising the tax rate lightly. Those additional revenues need to go to teacher pay,” stated Commission Chair Brownie Newman, adding that they need to wait until the state approves its teacher pay raise rate. “We need to know what that number is because we are committed to providing the same pay raise for locally funded positions that start employees will get… And it’s not just about how much funding school districts get; it’s about prioritizing how the funds are used. Different school boards make different decisions about how to allocate resources.”

Newman said it’s a difficult decision balancing raising taxes and increasing support for education. “We are cognizant that we are taking funds from other working people's pockets to do this. It’s not all tourists or millionaires. Property tax hits people in the middle class… But supporting public education is a fundamental priority,” he said.

After the state approves its budget and teacher pay raise rate, Commissioners will make a budget amendment for the two school systems.

Also, new to the budget since the public hearing is $1.5 million in expenditures and revenue and 17 new positions in Health and Human Services to support North Carolina’s Medicaid Expansion, effective once the state budget passes.

Education funding

The proposed budget has $102.8 million worth of funding for the Asheville City and Buncombe County school systems. You can see a breakdown of those proposed figures below:

A-B Tech will also receive $8.1 million dollars for FY24.

Special district tax rates

Five fire districts will have an increase in tax rates to help with building repairs, equipment, replacement vehicles, and other needs. The proposed budget recommends moving forward with the fire district increases while keeping the city school district tax rate at its current level. You can see a breakdown of the special district tax rates below:

Budget retreat priorities

During the Commissioners’ initial budget retreat last year, they identified five priorities for the FY24 budget. In the recommended budget, those priorities look like this:

  • $6.6 million for public safety and expansion of emergency medical services.
  • $698,000 for homelessness and continuum of care.
  • $3.9 million for early childhood education workforce development.
  • $637,000 for infrastructure in unincorporated and growth areas.
  • On hold: Consolidation of school systems. All parties agreed to revisit this later.

Budget highlights

Operational excellence

  • Increasing staff: The FY24 budget will fund 61 new staff positions in the general fund

Educated and capable community

  • $3.9 million for early childhood education workforce development.
  • $110.9 million for education partners A-B Tech, Asheville City Schools, and Buncombe County Schools.

Environmental and energy stewardship

  • Another $4 million for solar on schools and public buildings
  • $750,000 for conservation easements
  • $142,000 for Clean Water Fund/watershed management
  • $100,000 for Green Bank program support

Resident well-being

  • $6.6 million for public safety including Sheriff’s Office upgrades, training, equipment, and expansion of emergency medical services
  • More than 600,000 for recreation projects and improvements
  • $698,000 for homelessness and continuum of care
  • $75,000 for septic repair
  • $465,000 for homeowner assistance grants
  • $1.5 million for Medicaid expansion

Vibrant economy

  • $250,000 increase for economic development, including support for renovating McCormick Field
  • $2.3 million for affordable housing programs and resources
  • $437,000 for infrastructure in unincorporated and growth areas


  • $510,000 continued funding for reparations

Community investment through strategic priorities

In regard to community investments, Commissioners will continue to fund focus areas from the 2025 Strategic Plan. The following is a breakdown of some of the proposed community investments:

  • $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 see more in-depth information on the budget here.

Previous budget meetings

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Updated Jun 30, 2023 09:23 AM
Published Jun 20, 2023 07:00 PM

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