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A-B Tech tax used as ‘slush fund,’ official says
Thursday, 01 November 2018 22:51

From Staff Reports

A member of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners recently revealed that the money from a controversial sales tax is not going where commissioners said it would in 2011, WLOS-News 13 TV reported Oct. 15.

County leaders told voters about seven years ago that the money from a quarter-cent sales tax increase would be used to pay for construction and renovation projects at Asheville–Buncombe Technical Community College.

Off camera, the commissioner, Mike Fryar, told News 13 he was worried this would not happen because A-B Tech was never mentioned on the ballot next to the tax. Fryar said voters believed in 2011 that the money from the quarter cent tax would go to A-B Tech.

Even then, the referendum was controversial. He said the vote had low turnout. The tax passed by a slim margin of about 500 votes. County leaders said in 2011 that money from the tax increase would be used to pay for improvements at A-B Tech.

Fryar told WLOS that the money received from the extra sales tax goes into the county’s general fund and is, basically, the same amount the county gives to A-B Tech, making it “a wash,” with the county “not giving the school a dime,” of its own money.

Since the ballot never named A-B Tech as thge fund’s recipient, Fryar said Buncome is not obligated to give money to the school, since the ballot never named A-B Tech.

“It’s the county’s money. It doesn’t belong to A-B Tech. On the ballot it showed it was for the county,” Fryar told WLOS..

Though he was originally against the tax, Fryar said he wants the county to use the money in the way it said it would before the vote, without any other taxes being raised.

In response to how the quarter cent tax was being used and building plans at A-B Tech, Brownie Newman said in a statement, “I support the increase of $2 million per year for building maintenance that was discussed and recommended at our last County Commission meeting earlier this month. I look forward to reviewing the analysis of building utilization on campus as well, which will help inform the need for potential new buildings on campus.”

In an Oct. 4 story, the Asheville Citizen Times noted that “more than $15 million in tax revenue intended to pay for A-B Tech construction has instead been used to balance the county’s own budget,” the ACT noted, amounts to about 20 percent of all money generated by the tax.

 



 


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