by Donna Martinez
Former Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
When Buncombe County voters narrowly approved a 2011 sales tax hike, it was promised the funds would pay for a $130 million repair and renovation plan for Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. JLF’s Joe Coletti looks into the years-long diversion of revenue into the county’s general operating fund.
None of this would have come to light if former county manager Wanda Greene had not been forced out over her criminal actions. Interim county manager George Wood, who took over in June 2018, warned commissioners in September that they had been using the sales tax revenue to balance the county’s budget and that they would need to make significant changes to avoid a deficit next fiscal year, which starts July 2019.
Rep. Brian Turner wants commissioners to fulfill the promise made to voters that the tax would address A-B Tech’s facilities needs. He also suggested that the county work out a payment plan to offset the $15 million diverted to the county’s general fund, create more transparent budgets, and transfer oversight of facilities from the county commission to community college trustees.