From soccer fields to dog parks and greenways to disc golf, Buncombe County’s park portfolio is a great way to enjoy our natural beauty. During their meeting on July 18, Commissioners honored July as Parks and Recreation Month with a proclamation. It reads in part: “Parks and recreation programs and events are critical to social interaction and enhanced self-esteem. Our parks and natural recreation areas ensure the ecological beauty of our community and provide a place for children and adults to connect with nature and recreate outdoors.” You can read the entire proclamation here. To learn more about parks, recreation opportunities, programming, and more, click here.
Economic Development Coalition update
The Asheville-Buncombe Economic Development Coalition (EDC) is a public-private partnership with Buncombe County, the City of Asheville, and the Asheville-Area Chamber of Commerce and is constantly working to bolster existing businesses, attract new industries, and more. During the July 18 meeting, the EDC provided Commissioners with an update on its recent activities. Some highlights of the EDC’s fiscal year 32 include accomplishments in expansion and recruitment, helping entrepreneurs, assisting college students with economic mobility, and more.
- Helping create $15.1 million in new County investments
- Assisting with 153 new jobs with an average wage of $59,000
- Aiding 21 County start-up businesses
- Attracting $13 million in outside investments
- Creation of 64 new jobs from entrepreneurial efforts with and average wage of $78,000
- Helping professional development for 81 college students
You can read the EDC’s entire presentation here.
Airport Authority update
As the Asheville Regional Airport continues to experience growth, Commissioners received an update on its latest accomplishments. For calendar year 2022, the airport served more than 1.8 million passengers, an increase of 29% from the previous year. That traffic represents a record-breaking year and makes Asheville Regional Airport the third busiest in North Carolina. Additional highlights include:
- Contribution of $2.26 billion in annual regional economic impact, according to the NCDOT
- $118 million in tax revenue contributions
- Creation of seven additional full-time employees for 2022-2023
- Increase of $30.6 million in assets for 2022 from the previous year, leading to a total of more than $236 million in assets.
You can read the airports entire presentation here.
Board meetings schedule
After taking input from the public via a survey, Commissioners are not changing meeting times. During its meeting on June 6, the Board discussed a potential schedule for meetings that would have the first Tuesday of the month start with a briefing at 9 a.m., and then the regular meeting would start at 10 a.m. Under the proposal, meetings on the third Tuesday of the month would continue to have briefings begin at 3 p.m. with the regular meeting starting at 5 p.m. However, after considering survey results, Commissioners will be keeping both monthly meetings at 5 p.m. with briefings at 3 p.m. You can always watch Board of Commissioners’ meetings live on Facebook.
LEED standards update
The County is making changes to update and improve its policy regarding Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. Based on recommendations from the Energy and Environmental Subcommittee, Commissioners approved the following updates:
- Life-cycle cost analysis for design alternatives now applies to both new construction, as well as major equipment replacement to assist the Commission in the decision-making process.
- For new construction:
- Solar shall be included in design and construction rather than solar-ready.
- New facilities shall be designed as all-electric.
- EV charging infrastructure where County vehicles will be parked.
- For existing buildings:
- Equipment shall be replaced with all-electric equivalent at end of useful life where possible and not cost prohibitive based on life-cycle analysis.
You can read more about the updated policy here.
Asheville community reparations audit
Commissioners approved moving forward with a Community Reparations Commission (CRC) recommendation to conduct a harm audit for County policies and procedures. The County will pay half of the $174,375 contract with the City of Asheville picking up the rest of the tab. The County’s funding for the project will come from its Reparations Project Fund. 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.
You can read more about the County-City agreement for the audit here. For previous CRC meeting notes, up-to-date news, live streams of meetings, and more about the Reparations Commission’s work, click here. To sign up for updates from the City of Asheville, click here.
Budget amendment for Asheville High School
Commissioners approved funding to upgrade bleachers and lighting at Asheville High School’s gym. A pre-construction contract was executed earlier this year and during the pre-construction process, it was determined the gym floor also needs to be replaced. The additional cost of $410,000 will come from money originally tabbed to replace the auditorium's HVAC system, which was determined could be repaired instead of replaced. The cost to complete the AHS gym improvements is $919,829. You can read more here.
Budget amendment for BCS paving projects
Five Buncombe County School paving projects are getting the go-ahead. Commissioners approved $1.2 million in lottery for the following schools’ projects:
- Community High School - $300,000
- Oakley Elementary School - $125,000
- Pisgah Elementary School - $100,000
- Valley Springs Middle School - $450,000
- Enka High School - $250,000
You can view the budget ordinance here.