20-year county manager Wanda Greene retiring
After two decades the woman in charge of putting together Buncombe County’s large operating budget is retiring.
The news came as a surprise to Buncombe County Board of Commissioners chairman Brownie Newman. But Wanda Greene said she thought the time had come, and she felt good about her decision.
“I’m really at peace with the whole thing,” said Greene, who will work her final day July 1.
At 65-years-old, Greene said she’s fulfilled her professional goals and just completed work on the county’s $420 million budget that’s expected to be approved by commissioners at the end of June.
"I really want to have a more normal life. My days are 15-18 hours long. I'd like to have shorter days. It's just that time in my life, and I'm ready,” Greene said.
In early May, Greene was involved in a bit of controversy involving a 137-acre property that county commissioners voted to buy, anticipating the county could land the Deschutes Brewery deal. But Asheville lost to Virginia, and the county was left with the tract of land purchased for about $6.8 million in 2015.
Anticipating the land would sell, Greene included that amount as additional monies in the county’s budget in 2016 to fund county operations. It led to a deficit around the same amount, though commissioners and Greene have said there were other contributing sources leading to the deficit.
In order to make up for the amount, Greene had told commissioners she would have to have the county bring in more property taxes through a percentage rate high to taxpayers or find sources of revenue within the county to offset the lost money.
Greene said all commissioners knew she had included the sale amount in her budget and no commissioner was left in the dark. She said she stated it several times during budget talks before commission.
“Sold or not sold, it made no difference in the 2018 budget, we're about to adopt,” Green said.
She said it had nothing to do with her decision to announce her retirement,
Newman said commissioners were ultimately to blame for the misjudgment on the sale of the property. He expects the property to sell, and county taxpayers to reap a several-million-dollar benefit.
Newman said the county has about $3.4 million invested in the land he said will sell for close to $7 million. But he said a bigger drag on the county budget is the $50 million Health and Human Services building that is almost complete. Newman said a new parking deck next to it won’t be open to the public. He said he questions the decision of building that building.
As to any controversies during her career in county government, Greene stayed focused, she said, on her work and making sure she was doing a good job for the residents of Buncombe County.
“It's not always fun to have your name plastered everywhere, but it's part of the job. This is not a thin-skinned job,” she said.
Greene feels she’s leaving on a high note. She’s worked as manager 20 years and began working for the county as an assistant manager, for a total of 23 years working for Buncombe County.
“I've felt really blessed to do the job. I think we've done some great great things. It's just been a great part of my life's journey," Greene said.