• Commissioners voted 4–1 to allow Waste Pro to raise garbage–pickup rates by 4 percent. In contract with Buncombe County, the company provides pickup services in unincorporated areas; the change will increase the basic monthly rate from $14.20 to $14.77. Company officials told the commissioners they would've preferred an 8 percent increase, which would help offset the rising price of fuel and other costs.
• Commissioners voted 3–2 to approve a motion made by Commissioner Carol Peterson to maintain board members' own salaries at their current levels until at least after the November elections. Commissioner Bill Stanley seconded the measure and Commissioner K. Ray Bailey joined them. Board Chair David Gantt and Holly Jones voted against it. At the board's last meeting, Jones pitched the idea of lowering commissioner pay to a level she thinks would be more in line with what their counterparts make in other North Carolina counties. When their travel and technology stipends are taken in to account, Buncombe's commissioners are among the highest paid in the state.
(Mike Fryar, candidate for District 2 in the Commissioner elections, commented on county manager pay. Photo by Max Cooper.)
• The commissioners denied a motion Jones made to lower the amount of time newly hired county employees must wait to receive health insurance benefits to 30 days. They currently must wait 180 days. As written, the budget for the next fiscal year calls for lowering the wait to 90 days — starting Jan. 1 — a year before the county is required to do so by federal law. No commissioners seconded Jones' motion, so it wasn't voted on by the board.
• The board held a public hearing on the county's $337.7 million budget proposal for the 2012-13 fiscal year, which starts July 1. The board will vote on the proposal at its next meeting on June 19.
• The board voted 5–0 to sell a building and 0.49 acres of adjacent county-owned property at 34 Compton Drive to Eliada Homes for $279,650.
• The board voted 5–0 to accept a $5 million state grant to help fund a wastewater pre-treatment system and an additional bio-reactor at the county landfill.
• Commissioners voted 5–0 to approve an application for roughly $333,000 in state Rural Operating Assistance Program grants that would go to Mountain Mobility, the county's transit system.
(Buncombe County Commissioner Carol Peterson)