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On 7-5 vote, A-B Tech OKs deal with county on sales tax debacle
Tuesday, 02 April 2019 23:18

From Staff Reports

The A-B Tech Board of Trustees on March 6 voted 7-5 to approve an agreement with Buncombe County that specifies how sales tax revenue intended for campus construction will be spent over the next eight years.

 To date, $15 million in revenue from the quarter-cent sales tax, which was approved by local voters in a referendum in 2011, “has been allocated by Buncombe officials for other uses,” the Asheville Citizen Times reported, citing its independent review of records the newspaper had obtained from the county Board of Commissioners.

Meanwhile, Asheville’s WLOS-TV News 13 reported that “the balance from that tax ...  could total $19 million by the end of the eight-year period... Some $3 million to $4 million of that money will be used for deferred building maintenance ... Some of that money could be used for building construction.”

Next, local officials have said they plan to ask the state General Assembly to pass a local bill to make it a binding agreement.

The March 6 agreement will allow Buncombe to allocate a maximum of $5 million per year toward its annual appropriation to A-B Tech, more formally known as Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. 

“Maintenance funding will be increased to address a $25 million backlog, and the tax’s fund balance is projected to ultimately grow to roughly $19 million to allow for potential construction of a new building,” the ACT reported. “The agreement also includes the formation of a subcommittee to make funding recommendations.”

What’s more, the ACT quoted A-B Tech trustee Ron Edgerton as saying, “This is a floor. It doesn’t stop us from asking for more. But if we don’t approve it, then the county can take it all back.”

Casting dissenting votes were Chair Mary Ann Rice and trustees Bruce Briggs, Frances Ramsey, Roger Metcalf and Matt Kern.

“First proposed by then-interim county manager George Wood, the agreement fails to make good on a campaign promise to county voters in 2011 that the revenue only would fund a nearly $130 million building plan at A-B Tech and nothing more,” the Citizen Times noted.



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