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Thank You!

November 7, 2012

Nov. 7, 2012: Last night, you voted to permit me to continue as Chairman based on my record of the last 4 years.  I am honored with your vote and I pledge to continue in a positive manner that supports education, job creation, environmental protections, and all the parts of our community that make us the best place to live in the USA.  I want you to keep in touch and give me feedback as I try to be the best Chairman of the Buncombe County Commission that I can be. 

Thank you for all the time, commitment, and energy given to my re-election campaign this past year.  As a direct result of your financial and temporal support, campaign manager Carmen Ramos-Kennedy and I were able to present an aggressive campaign that informed the voters of the direction in which I would like to keep the county moving rather than any negative comparisons with my opponent. In fact, we ran a campaign that featured 100% negative-free content. I appreciate your help in enabling Carmen and myself to run this type of campaign.

Thanks again for all the prayers, encouragement, and support.  We could never be successful without your help.

Approval Given for Property Revaluation

September 20, 2012

Tax Director Gary Roberts addresses the Sept. 18 commission meeting

From the Mountain Xpress:

At their September 18 meeting, Buncombe County Commissioners unanimously cast a final vote approving a plan to revaluate property values for tax purposes a year before they’re required to by state law. The vote was mostly a technicality; the commissioners previously held a public hearing on the matter and voted to approve the plan Aug. 14 by a 4–1 margin. At that time, Commissioner Holly Jones cast the lone vote against it, fearing it could result in a bigger tax burden on poor and working-class residents. She voted Sept. 18 to support the plan.

The property reappraisal process is meant to simply determine the value of county residents’ homes and land, explained county tax director Gary Roberts. The county will mail notifications to residents of what the values are in January, he said. Then commissioners can take the values in to account when determining the tax rate in the spring, he said. Roberts requested the move because the real estate market has undergone major changes since the last valuation was conducted in 2006. State law requires revaluations to be conducted at least every 8 years.

David Gantt noted that due to the fluctuating real estate market of recent years, “we just don’t know what the results of the revaluation will be.”

Greenway Master Plan Approved

September 10, 2012

The French Broad River Greenway (John Coutlakis)

A plan for 102 miles of greenways across Buncombe County won unanimous approval from Buncombe County commissioners at their September 4, 2012 meeting. The greenways plan was finalized after consideration of over 2600 responses and comments from the public to the original plan that was posted online. Although the county explicitly stated that it will not acquire land for greenways by condemnation, commissioners added a specific prohibition against the use of eminent domain before approving the plan. Chairman David Gantt reiterated the board’s stance, noting “If somebody says (a greenway) is not good, it’s not going to happen on their property”. Read more…

Board of Commissioners August Action: Incentives for New Belgium, Revised County Employee Policy, and More

August 23, 2012

David gives his thoughts about proposed changes in the county personnel policy at the August 21 commission meeting

In their first meeting following the July break, the major issue before the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners Commissioners was consideration of a revised personnel ordinance governing county employees. After a lengthy debate and public hearing, commissioners voted 4-1 to approve . Commissioner Holly Jones cast the lone vote against the measure after attempting to amend it to specifically ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  David Gantt cast the only vote in support of Jones’ proposed amendment, with commissioners Stanley, Peterson, and Bailey voting against. Those voting “no” expressed the opinion that discrimination based on sexual orientation was covered under the old policy and that the proposed language might make the county more vulnerable to lawsuits. Read more…

New Budget Passed w/ No Tax Increase; Waterline to Be Run to Homes Near CTS Site

June 20, 2012

County employees applaud Public Safety Communications Administrator Clint Gorman after his address to the Board in support of the current compensation package

At their June 19th meeting, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed a 2012-2013 budget with no changes to the property tax rate or county employee compensation.  Buncombe will spend $337 million for all purposes in the budget year that begins July 1, an increase of about 1 percent over last year.

About 50 county employees attended the meeting to express their concern over a proposal by Commissioner Holly Jones to cap longevity pay at $3,000 per year per employee. Currently, the county’s most-senior workers receive up to 7% of their annual salary as a retention incentive. Jones did not raise the issue at this meeting, telling the Asheville Citizen-Times later that she is waiting for the results of a study of pay issues that will be presented at the Board’s next meeting on August 7th.

David Gantt told the Asheville-Citizen Times that he sees little or no support among other commissioners for a reduction of longevity payments. He told the county employees at the meeting, “We have consistently asked you to do more with less … and you come through. …as long as I’m on this board, we will keep our promises to you and we will fairly compensate you”. Read more…

Linamar to Expand, Adding 250 More Jobs

June 20, 2012

From the 6/21/12 Mountain Xpress:

A year after Linamar made headlines with the announcement that it would set up shop in Asheville, the Canadian auto-parts manufacturer is expanding, adding 250 more jobs and $75 million in facilities and equipment.  The Economic Development Coalition announced the expansion at the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting on June 21st.

“This commitment, along with the 400 jobs and $125 million investment Linamar made public in June 2011, marks a total of $200 million and 650 jobs announced over the past 12 months,” a statement from the EDC reads. “Linamar attributes this significant expansion to its successful launch in Asheville, to the strength of the local workforce and regional expertise in metals machining.”

The expansion deal also involves $4.5 million in new tax incentives from Buncombe County and $1 million from the city of Asheville, as well as state funds.  Linamar has already had a grand opening after setting up shop in the former Volvo plant, and hired about 80 people. As operations increase, hiring will continue at the pace of about 80 jobs a year and the company will construct an additional building as its workload increases.  The jobs will pay $42,542 a year on average. Read more…

Buncombe County Credit Rating Upped to AAA

June 9, 2012

Buncombe County Government has received the highest rating by Standard and Poor’s bond rating agency assigning a AAA rating to the County, up from the previous AA+ rating. This independent rating agency consists of financial and business experts whose goal is to advise investors on how safe an investment in an organization will be. By assigning Buncombe County this rating, the experts are saying Buncombe County is a safe place to invest and do business.

According to the Asheville Citizen-Times, the rating increase will save the county hundreds of thousands of dollars in borrowing costs.

Buncombe becomes only the 6th county in North Carolina to have a AAA rating, joining Mecklenburg, Wake, Forsyth, New Hanover and Durham Counties.

We are delighted to receive a AAA bond rating, stated County Manager Wanda Greene, this rating reaffirms that Buncombe County is well positioned to support our business community, to provide effective and efficient services and conservatively manage our tax dollars. In practical terms, having a AAA ratings means that our costs when we borrow are kept as low as possible.”

“This is an important accomplishment for us,” said Commission Chairman David Gantt. “This is recognition that Buncombe County is being well managed as it works through a difficult economic environment. We are making tough but smart choices with our workforce, smart partnerships and spending, while continuing to provide essential services.”

According to the report released by Standard and Poor’s, the AAA rating reflects the County’s:

  • Role as the regional economic hub for WNC, with a local economy showing signs of modest recovery and an unemployment rate below state and national averages;
  • Maintenance of strong reserves and liquidity through the recent recessionary period;
  • Strong financial management practices and policies;
  • Low overall debt levels with management long-term pension and other postemployment benefit liabilities; and
  • Low funding interdependence with the funding government.
  • Ongoing diversification and expansion of Buncombe County’s economic base. Read more…