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Commissioners Recognize Public Health, Food Waste Reduction, and Endorse 2024 Legislative Agenda and Efforts to Leverage Dollars for Deaverview Mountain Park

Buncombe Commissioners Endorse Legislative Agenda, Approve Applying for Outdoor Recreation Legacy Program Grant for Possible Deaverview Mountain Park, and more

At its April 2, 2024 meeting, the Board of Commissioners recognized the FY2024 Budget Document for receipt of the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Distinguished Budget Presentation Award, underscoring Buncombe County’s commitment to following the best practices in budgeting and finance.

The Board of Commissioners also recognized April as "Food Waste Reduction Month," highlighting how more than 57,000 tons of food are wasted in the County each year and offering solutions for food saving and composting. Click here to read the full proclamation.

Buncombe County Public Health was recognized by the Board of Commissioners for the valuable role of Public Health as critical to improving the health and wellbeing of everyone in our community during National Public Health Week 2024. The proclamation reads in part, “The dedicated efforts of public health professionals, in collaboration with various sectors, are crucial for disease prevention are crucial for disease prevention, emergency preparedness, and fostering healthier communities.”

During the final presentation, Commissioners received updates from the Buncombe County Board of Adjustment, which handles decisions on variances, special land uses, and development appeals. The Board of Adjustment noted increased activity related to multi-family housing and the growing complexity of development sites.

Public Hearings on Bonds and Recovery Housing Program

A second hearing was held for an application to the North Carolina Department of Commerce’s Rural Economic Development Division Recovery Housing Program, funded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. The program offers grants of up to $1,000,000 for local governments to develop or maintain housing for individuals recovering from substance use. This was the second of two public hearings as part of the application process in pursuit of this funding opportunity. View the full presentation here. Following the public hearing, the Board voted in favor of a resolution approving submittal for the Recovery Housing Program funds.

Following a second public hearing, Commissioners supported a resolution to issue Limited Obligation Bonds of up to $81.5 million to fund approximately $54 million in school capital projects, $17 million in County capital projects, and $7 million in County vehicles. The resolution authorizes the County Manager and Finance Director to handle the financing process. For more information, click here.

County’s Legislative Agenda to Focus on Funding, Education, Quality of Life

Looking ahead, Buncombe County Commissioners endorsed a 2024 Legislative Agenda with Governmental Relations Firm Ward & Smith focusing on seeking state funding and advocating for various initiatives to address critical needs in the community. The County aims to secure state funding for several key areas including funding for state employees, early childhood education including pre-K, K-12 education, community college education, and related capital needs. Additionally, the County is seeking additional state funding and/or direct earmarks for water quality, flood resiliency, and stormwater mitigation projects in the French Broad River basin and funding for sewer projects to extend services to Southwestern Buncombe County toward Canton. Other priorities include advocating for additional state funding to address the Innovation Waiver slots waiting list for individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) in the Buncombe community, as well as seeking resources for repairs and improvements to McCormick Field.

Additionally, the County opposes any proposals that would limit local government's ability to regulate short-term rentals or online marketplaces. Moreover, efforts are underway to seek authorization for a General Assembly study on property tax relief and related exemptions for permanent residents of North Carolina. The County also aims to continue evaluating methods to modernize NC House Occupancy Tax guidelines to meet the evolving visitation and infrastructure needs of Buncombe County.

Lastly, Buncombe County is advocating for additional state investment in broadband infrastructure, including reallocating unspent State or Federal funds to the GREAT Grant program and providing additional flexibility for local government investment in broadband infrastructure. These priorities reflect the County's commitment to addressing pressing issues and improving the quality of life for its residents. 

View the full legislative agenda here.

Contract Additions, Budget Moves

As a recipient of significant federal funding for transportation programming, the County is required to report certain data annually to the National Transit Database. The County’s transportation program must be reviewed every 10 years by an independent auditor to verify the County’s reporting is compliant with the data organization and quality standards required by the Federal Transit Administration. The Commissioners approved the Audit Committee recommendation to contract with current auditor Mauldin & Jenkins to perform these procedures for a cost not to exceed $25,000. Commissioners also approved the FY24 audit contract of $192,000 for the annual independent contract. For more information, click here.

Almost a year ago, the Board supported the decision to partner with the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) to pursue state and federal funding for the Deaverview Mountain project. The April 2023 resolution provided initial direction for collaborative exploratory support with SAHC. However, it did not commit the County to apply for federal funding through the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Program Grant (ORLP) for land acquisition of the property. This funding would provide a 1:1 match, allowing the County to leverage funding from SAHC to match dollars from ORLP. Considering the grant application deadline and a time-limited window of opportunity to purchase the land, the Board discussed moving forward with submitting a grant application during this upcoming grant cycle. View the full presentation here.

Commissioners also approved finalization of County projects and closing grants across six funds in FY24. This is an annual occurrence for these multi-year funds. Notable closures in the Special Projects Fund include a total of 26 projects, including 16 conservation easement projects and 10 affordable housing projects, with a total budget of $9.3 million and a total savings of $61,000, which will be redirected to support other initiatives and offset debt service payments. Additionally, Buncombe County will close out 19 grants with a total budget of $10.2 million. Eight County capital projects will be closed in the Capital Projects fund budgeted at $3.8 million with $188,000 of savings to be applied to future projects.

In the final agenda item, the Commissioners authorized the Buncombe County Sheriff's Office to utilize unanticipated forfeitures deposited from a case submitted to the equitable sharing program in 2010, totaling $263,323. The Board of Commissioners approved the use of the $250,000 in revenue to purchase surveillance equipment.

View all of the budget ordinances here.

An additional item for a short-term rental conversion program had been included on the original agenda, but the item was tabled due to staff absence.


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Updated Apr 05, 2024 02:45 PM
Published Apr 02, 2024 07:39 AM

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