Leslee Kulba

Homelessness Up, Crime Down

The COVID era was a time of pivoting for agencies caring for the homeless. Despite millions in federal funding, with innovations in non congregate care, and growth in permanent supportive housing, the local homeless population increased 21% from January 2021 to January 2022.

Commissioners Puzzle Over Gov. Funds

The Buncombe County Commissioners flexed their powers to spend federal money on affordable housing and Pre-K, local taxpayer dollars on an aggressive bond program for affordable housing & green spaces, as well as tourists' dollars on basic government services.

Strong 2021 Spurs Airport Expansion

Lew Bleiweis, executive director of the Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority, presented the airport’s 2021 annual report with the Buncombe County Commissioners and reviewed future plans.

Council Adds to a Packed Budget

Possibly softened by recent windfalls like the sale of Mission Hospital, COVID relief funds, and the opioid settlement, the majority on Asheville City Council wanted to spend their final budget worksession of the year adding more expenses.

Asheville Adopts Legislative Agenda

Asheville City Council adopted a legislative agenda for the short session of the NC General Assembly. Items included a request for state and federal reparations and a quarter-cent municipal tax for transit.

Commissioners Support Housing, Conservation Bonds

The Buncombe County Commissioners approved moving forward with putting bond referenda on this year's ballot. One would ask $30 million for preserving greenspace, and the other would ask $40 million for increasing affordable housing stock.

Buncombe County Plans for Opioid Settlement Lawsuits

Buncombe County is slated to receive $16,175,039 in opioid settlement funds; Asheville, $1,518,686. With a year’s delay after the settlement was first announced, it will now take another six months for the county to set up the administration that will develop the plan for determining where the funds will go. Meanwhile, the Sheriff’s Office has lost 90 detention officers since January 2021.

Mismanagement: The New Normal

The City of Asheville’s transit and parking divisions haven’t pivoted gracefully. Malfunctioning software, unresponsive contractors, supply chain delays, and staffing shortages were given as excuses for the city’s lapses in services leading to budget shortfalls.

Foot-Dragging Continues over Park

Some members of Asheville City Council expressed trepidation over staff-recommended sources of funding for completing revised plans for the park at Memorial Stadium.

Wanted: County Lobbyist

Buncombe County released a RFP for lobbying services. Chair Brownie Newman couldn’t remember a time when the county retained a lobbyist.