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County adds spending, delays tax cut vote

The Henderson County Board of Commissioners ratcheted up a proposed county budget by $1,029,098 on Tuesday, adding a new "peak load" ambulance crew and granting several non-profit agency requests while delaying a vote on a proposed tax cut.

The commissioners agreed to give $20,000 each to the Flat Rock Playhouse and Hendersonville Little Theatre as the board began to put finishing touches on a $109.8 million 2013-14 budget.
The commissioners took action on the arts, human services agencies and business and economic development efforts, paring the agency requests in many cases but raising the amount recommended by County Manager Steve Wyatt. It took no action on a 1.36-cent tax cut supported by commissioners Grady Hawkins and Larry Young. Commissioners said they wanted to wait until the public weighs in during a public hearing on Monday.

Chairman Charlie Messer went on the record  opposing the cut, saying it would eliminate $1.6 million the county could use to support several pending nonprofit agency requests and proposals like restoring sheriff's deputies cut in 2011. Hawkins argued the county could take that amount from reserves without harming its overall fiscal health, noting that the county had been adding to the fund balance at the rate of $1.2 million each year.
In other requests, commissioners appropriated:

  • $440,000 for development of Tuxedo Community Park.
  • $51,500 to Vocational Services to help develop new jobs programs. Hawkins argued for the appropriation for the agency, which suffered financial losses under a past director who was charged with embezzlement. "They're struggling from the past mistakes that have been made out there and they're trying to get ahead," Hawkins said. "They're trying to open their clean room," which is used to package and ship medical supplies. "They've got a pretty good business plan to do that."
  • $20,000 for a YouTheatre scholarship program at Flat Rock Playhouse.
  • $20,000 for Hendersonville Little Theatre to help complete renovation of its Washington Street theater building.
  • $30,000 to the Henderson County Chamber of Commerce, to help retire the chamber's $721,000 debt still outstanding from the 2009 renovation of its new headquarters on Kanuga Road at Church Street.
  • $120,000 as an ongoing appropriation for the county AgriBusiness development office, which works to expand markets for the county's farmers.
  • • $10,000 for the Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra. The HSO asked for $20,000; the county manager recommended zero.
  • The commissioners added just over $1 million that not in Wyatt's recommendation but about $304,000 of that is expected to be offset by higher ambulance fees the board authorized when it approved the new EMS unit.
  • Still to be decided are several other nonprofit agency requests, a capital funding request from BRCC for a manufacturing center for a megatronics degree program, a Rescue Squad request for $100,000 in operating money and $181,000 for a new four-wheel drive ambulance and equipment, and the public schools request for funding.