The Buncombe County Commission meets this Tuesday 6/21/22 at 5 pm. You can attend the meeting at 200 College Street, Room 326 in downtown Asheville. You can watch the meeting online via Buncombe County’s Facebook page. The full agenda is here.
The Community Reparations Commission will hold their next meeting on Monday, June 27, 2022, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. The meeting is being held at the Buncombe County First Floor Conference Room at 200 College Street. The public is welcome to attend the entire session. The meeting will be recorded and streamed here.
Things that are top priority
Buncombe County Commission continues to ignore the Community Reparations Commission
It’s now been a month since the Community Reparations Commission formally asked both the City of Asheville and Buncombe County to commit to Reparations. Last week, the City finally responded, increasing their Reparations allocation for this year by $135,000, for a total of $500,000. More significantly, they plan to use that figure as a baseline for future budgets. “In future fiscal years staff will plan on budgeting Reparations similar to how the current annual funding is handled for the Housing Trust Fund (also $500,000). Specifically, staff will include at least $500,000 for Reparations in future base budgets, subject to financial feasibility and eventual final budget approval by City Council.” The Buncombe County Commission will discuss this year’s budget at their meeting on Tuesday, but there is nothing about Reparations in the presentation slides shared in advance of the meeting.
We are very troubled by the Buncombe County Commission’s lack of response to the Community Reparations Commission. Ignoring this request strikes us as disrespectful and potentially harmful to the Reparations process, which the County Commission claims to support. We reiterate our hope that they will designate Reparations as an ongoing funding priority, with an annual goal that matches their planned allocation this year of $2 million.
Things to do
We encourage you to reach out to the Buncombe County Commission and ask them to respond to the Community Reparations Commission’s request for a funding commitment. You can personalize and send the email template available at the Racial Justice Coalition website.
Things of concern, more information needed
Follow Up: Buncombe County Homeowner Grant Program
This program, first introduced last year, offers $500 to qualifying homeowners, an attempt by Buncombe County to offset the increase in property taxes that it passed last year. This year, the County is proposing to restrict the program to those homeowners with less than $5000 of “liquid assets” – those that can be turned into cash within five days. (You can read more about the program and proposed revisions to it here.) The County Commission will hear more about this program at their meeting on Tuesday and you can view the presentation slides here.
We remain concerned about this revision to the conditions to the program, and have many questions about the $5000 limit. What is the reasoning for that amount? Has the County done any analysis as to how many residents would be excluded from the program with this constraint in place? What qualifies as a “liquid asset?” (For example, one could consider a car a liquid asset – it can be converted to cash in less than five days – so it would seem that this program would eliminate most homeowners that also own cars. Is that the intention?)
Things to do
We encourage you to reach out to the Buncombe County Commission via their contact page. Ask them to clarify their thinking behind excluding homeowners with more than $5000 in liquid assets.
Buncombe County Commission Agenda, Presentation from Economic Development Coalition (EDC)
From the Presentation: “The EDC is a 28-year, public-private partnership of Buncombe County, the City of Asheville and the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce advancing opportunity, quality of life and economic sustainability in Buncombe County through workforce investment, high-wage job creation & economic diversification”
In the presentation, the EDC claims as one of their successes that they had “56% BIPOC participation” in their job placement program. However, they don’t say how many of the 20 people who actually got jobs were BIPOC. We’d encourage them to share this information.
Things to do
We suggest that you reach out to the Buncombe County Commission via their contact page. Encourage them to ask the EDC for more information about their track record of actually facilitating Black-owned businesses and Black employment.
Buncombe County Commission Agenda, Presentation from Tourism Development Authority (TDA)
The report cites a recent poll that indicates 83% of locals believe “tourism is beneficial to my community.” The report also claims that the TDA invested $1 million in “Black-owned Media and Creators.”
We are concerned that no demographic data is included in the polling report. We wonder how many of the people who claimed that tourism was beneficial to their community were people of color. Also, some of the examples that show up on the slide touting $1 million invested in Black media and creators are corporations like Facebook and Spotify – white-owned companies – so we’re left to wonder how the TDA is calculating its impact on Black companies.
Things to do
We suggest that you reach out to the Buncombe County Commission via their contact page. Encourage them to ask the TDA for demographic data for the polling data they are sharing, and for clarification on how supporting white-owned media platforms like Facebook and Spotify is benefiting Black-owned media and creators.