Buncombe County commissioner says sales tax money not going to A-B Tech as promised

A Buncombe County commissioner says the county isn’t obligated to give money generated from a controversial sales tax to A-B Tech since the school wasn't named on the ballot. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

One Buncombe County Commissioner says the money from a controversial sales tax isn’t going where commissioners said it would in 2011. About seven years ago, county leaders told voters the money from the quarter cent sales tax increase would be used to pay for construction and renovation projects at Asheville–Buncombe Technical Community College.

Off camera, one person told News 13 he was worried this would not happen because A-B Tech was never mentioned on the ballot next to the tax. County Commissioner Mike Fryar says voters believed in 2011 that the money from the quarter cent tax would go to A-B Tech.

Even then, the referendum was controversial. He says the vote had low turnout. The tax passed by a slim margin of about 500 votes. County leaders said in 2011 that money from the tax increase would be used to pay for improvements at A-B Tech.

Fryar says the money that comes in from the extra sales tax goes into the county's general fund and is, basically, the same amount the county gives to A-B Tech, making it "a wash," with the county "not giving the school a dime," of its own money.

Fryar explained the county isn’t obligated to give money to the school, since the ballot never named A-B Tech.

“It’s the county’s money. It doesn’t belong to A-B Tech. On the ballot it showed it was for the county,” Fryar explained.

Though Fryar was originally against the tax, he wants the county to use the money how it said it would before the vote, without any other taxes being raised.

In response to how the quarter cent tax was being used and building plans at A-B Tech, Brownie Newman sent this statement, “I support the increase of $2 million per year for building maintenance that was discussed and recommended at our last County Commission meeting earlier this month. I look forward to reviewing the analysis of building utilization on campus as well, which will help inform the need for potential new buildings on campus.”

We will update this still with any statements from A-B Tech.

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