The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners took a variety of actions Aug. 27 – here's some of the highlights:
• The board voted unanimously to allow individual commissioners to make their own decision on whether to accept a 1.7 percent cost of living raise each year. The same raise is given to county employees. Commissioner Mike Fryar was the only board member to state that he intends not to accept the raise, noting that during last year's campaign he pushed the idea of cutting commissioner salaries. Commissioner David King said board members have spent an "inordinate amount of time discussing" the issue over the last few days since the Asheville Citizen-Times reported that the raise was included in this year's budget. Noting that the raise amounted to only 79 cents a day, he accused "the news media" of trying to "set the agenda and drive" the issue.
• Commissioners heard an update from General Services Director Greg Israel on an energy audit the county's conducting with the goal of finding ways to reduce carbon emissions. He reported that the audit should be complete in October and will include recommendations. "I think it's great. I really look forward to seeing what kind of steps they recommend," said Commissioner Brownie Newman, who has been pushing for reductions.
• Board Chair David Gantt announced that County Attorney Michael Frue's title will change to "senior staff attorney." In his new role, Frue will focus on assisting county departments such as the Health and Human Services Dept. with legal advice, rather than the commissioners. The board plans to hire a new part-time attorney to serve its needs at meetings.