Fire Districts, Schools Present Buncombe County Commissioners With Budget Requests

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During their last budget workshop, Buncombe County Commissioners discussed requests from fire districts, Asheville City and Buncombe County school districts, and A-B Tech.

The May 10 meeting is the latest step of a months-long process of identifying priorities and working toward crafting a Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) spending plan reflective of those goals. The proposed FY23 budget runs July 1, 2022-June 30, 2023, and the public will have a chance to weigh in during a public hearing next month.

Budget updates

Since last meeting on April 26, there has been a net increase in the proposed budget of $584,943 accounting for adjusted general revenues, Community Paramedics program, funding for arts, and other issues. As it stands, the total FY23 budget is $394,686,705 that would keep the current property tax rate the same. For comparison, the FY22 budget is $388,651,320.

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Fire district requests

Primary expenditures for fire districts in the upcoming budget year are for salary increases, new positions, construction of new stations, repairs to existing facilities, and vehicle and equipment replacement. Of the 20 fire districts in the County, Barnardsville and Skyland are the only districts asking for an increase of two cents and 0.5 cents respectively. At this point, County staff recommends supporting the Barnardsville tax increase but notes Skyland’s financial position does not necessitate a tax increase and staff does not support approval of the request.

Education requests

Buncombe County helps fund two public school districts and A-B Tech by helping with capital projects, supplementing salaries, and other needs. The following are the requests from the aforementioned:

A-B Tech: Total request is $7.7 million for:

  • Salary increases to match state increases
  • Utilities Increases
  • Continue to realize energy savings
  • 6.22% increase from previous fiscal year

Asheville City Schools: Total request is $33.2 million for:

  • Salary and operating increases
  • A request to increase the Supplemental School Taxing District by 1.38 cents (to 12 cents) that would create an estimated $12.9 million, plus sales tax estimated at $4.8 million
  • $15.4 million from the general fund
  • An additional $600,000 for Pre-K programs (not included in the $33.2 million request)

Buncombe County Schools: Total request is $97.1 million for:

  • $15.2 million for salary and benefits
  • $3.7 million for operating (utilities, materials, property insurance, etc.)
  • $4.9 million to offset use of fund balance
  • Total increase of $23.9 million from the previous fiscal year

County staff will continue to work with school representatives as the County evaluates all of the requests and ultimately presents Commissioners with a final proposed budget.

Commissioners’ priorities

In December, Commissioners identified their top priorities for the FY23 budget. Here’s a breakdown of how the proposed FY23 spending plan would fund those priorities:

  • Affordable housing: $2,311,845
  • Apprenticeship programs: $150,000
  • Arts and culture grants: $129,788
  • Conservation easements: $750,000
  • Early childhood education: $3,820,349
  • Economic development incentives: $5,313,000
  • Education special projects: $80,000
  • Homeowner assistance grants: $300,000
  • Reparations funding: $2,000,000
  • Strategic partnership grants: $1,500,000
  • Low-income septic repair: $75,000
  • Inclusive hiring partnership: $50,000

Next steps

  • Recommended Budget – May 19 regular meeting
  • Public Hearing – June 7 regular meeting
  • Budget Adoption – June 21 regular meeting

For additional information and documents from this budget work session, click here. All work sessions, meetings, and public hearings are streamed live on Buncombe County’s Facebook page.

Prepared by Buncombe County.