WATAUGA COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
TUESDAY, AUGUST 21, 2001
The Watauga County Board of Commissioners held a regular meeting on Tuesday, August 21, 2001 at 7:00 P.M. in the Board Room of the Watauga County Courthouse.
PRESENT: Jimmy Hodges, Chairman
James Coffey, Vice-Chairman
Jack Lawrence, Sr., Commissioner
Sue Sweeting, Commissioner
Pat Wilkie, Commissioner
Jeff Hedrick, County Attorney
Robert E. Nelson, Jr., County Manager
Anita Fogle, Clerk to the Board
Chairman Hodges called the meeting to order at 7:03 P.M. welcoming those in attendance.
A moment of silence was observed.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Chairman Hodges called for additions or corrections to the August 6, 2001 regular and closed session meeting minutes.
Commissioner Sweeting stated that she would like the following statement added under the section entitled Discussion of Survey Regarding County Services: Out of seventeen (17) departments listed in the survey only four (4) have customer service surveys currently in place.
Vice-Chairman Coffey, seconded by Commissioner Wilkie, moved to approve the August 6, 2001 regular meeting minutes as amended and the August 6, 2001, closed session minutes as presented.
APPROVAL OF AUGUST 21, 2001 AGENDA
Chairman Hodges called for additions or corrections to the August 21, 2001 agenda.
Vice-Chairman Coffey, seconded by Commissioner Sweeting, moved to approve the August 21, 2001 agenda as presented.
PUBLIC HEARING TO CONSIDER AMENDMENT TO THE WATAUGA COUNTY PERSONNEL ORDINANCE
Chairman Hodges declared the public hearing open at 7:05 P.M. to allow for comment on proposed amendments to the County’s Personnel Ordinance.
County Manager Nelson stated that the proposed amendment extended County funded insurance coverage to retirees who have greater than twenty years of service to Watauga County.
There being no public comment, Chairman Hodges declared the public hearing closed at 7:09 P.M.
Commissioner Wilkie seconded by Commissioner Sweeting, moved to amend the County’s Personnel Ordinance as presented.
ORDINANCE BOOK # 11, PAGE # 27
CONSIDERATION OF NEW HWY 421 FOR THE DOT SCENIC BYWAYS PROGRAM
Mr. Sam Erby, Board of Transportation Member for Division 11, discussed the NC Scenic Byways Program for consideration of the Doc and Merle Watson Highway (new Highway 421 from Deep Gap to the bridge on the New River).
Mr. Charles Tomlinson, State Roadside Development Engineer with the Department of Transportation, discussed the technical aspects of the application and stated that designation of said highway as a Scenic Byway did not require any modification in local regulations or restrictions nor did it require any change in commercial or agricultural activity or affect future development due to the fact that the Board of Commissioners already designated said road as a Scenic Highway. The status of Scenic Byway prevented outdoor advertising (paid billboards) to be erected adjacent to the Scenic Byway. Mr. Tomlinson stated that applications were due by August 31, 2001 and would most likely be decided upon at the March 2002 meeting of the Board of Transportation. Mr. Tomlinson also stated that, after the application was made, Watauga County could put the procedure on hold, or choose not to pursue the designation, and the application could be filed as pending (indefinitely if necessary).
After discussion, Commissioner Wilkie seconded by Commissioner Sweeting, moved to apply to the North Carolina Department of Transportation for designation of the Doc and Merle Watson Highway as a Scenic Byway and request a Public Hearing be held prior to final consideration.
VOTE: Aye-3 (Lawrence, Sweeting, Wilkie)
A. Monthly Collections Report – Tax Administrator, Kelvin Byrd, presented the Tax Collections Report for the month of July 2001.
B. Releases and Refunds – Tax Administrator Byrd presented the following Refunds and Releases for July 2001 for Board approval:
TO BE TYPED IN MINUTE BOOK
Vice-Chairman Coffey, seconded by Commissioner Sweeting, moved to approve the Refunds and Releases Report as presented.
C. Annual Tax Collector’s Settlement – Tax Administrator Byrd presented the following Annual Settlement Statements for Fiscal Year 2000/2001 for Board approval:
TO BE TYPED IN MINUTE BOOK
Vice-Chairman Coffey seconded by Commissioner Wilkie, moved to approve the Annual Settlement Statements for Fiscal Year 2000/2001.
D. Order of Collections Request – A sworn oath had been administered to Tax Administrator Byrd in order to collect taxes for the new Fiscal Year 2001/2002. Mr. Byrd stated this Order would grant him the authorization to collect taxes and requested the Board’s approval.
TO BE TYPED IN MINUTE BOOK
Commissioner Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Wilkie, moved to grant authorization to Tax Administrator Byrd to collect taxes for Fiscal Year 2001/2002.
GENERAL OBLIGATION BONDS REFUNDING PROPOSAL
Ms. Doris Isaacs, Finance Director, reviewed a proposal regarding refunding a portion of the County’s general obligation bonds. The bonds were the 1991 Solid Waste Issue bond and the 1994 School bond. Ms. Isaacs stated that there were costs associated with the refunding but the net savings over the next fourteen years would be greater than $300,000. Ms. Isaacs recommended that the County enter into an agreement with Ferris Baker and Watts for the refunding of the portion of the County’s general obligation bonds. Ms. Isaacs also recommended appointment of bond council to LeBoeuf, Lamb, Lieby, and McRae in New York as they have served as bond council in the past and are familiar with Watauga County.
Commissioner Wilkie, seconded by Commissioner Sweeting, moved to submit a letter for approval of refunding the presented obligation bonds to the Local Government Commission and to appoint LeBoeuf, Lamb, Lieby, and McRae as Bond Council, and enter into agreement with Ferris Baker and Watts.
VEHICLE PURCHASE REQUEST
Mr. J.V. Potter presented the following bids received for a diesel powered front loading refuse truck: Carolina Environmental Systems $147,447.00
Tarheel Sterling Truck Center $147,401.00
Cavalier Equipment Corporation $146,098.32
Vice-Chairman Coffey, seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to accept the low bid from Cavalier Equipment Corporation and approve the purchase of said vehicle contingent upon Finance Director Isaacs obtaining suitable financing.
DSS REVENUE REDUCTION DISCUSSION
Mr. Jim Atkinson, Director of the Department of Social Services, discussed cuts in state revenues to the Department of Social Services. The State cut $11,042 from the Carolina Access Program and $25,000 from the Integrity Program retroactive to July 1, 2001. The salary and fringe package was approximately $38,000 for the Program Integrity position and $13,500 for the Carolina Access Program. The County was to receive $36,042 for $51,500 in salaries/fringe, plus administrative and legal support.
The Board, by consensus, agreed to keep the positions in place (as the Department of Social Services looked at internal savings where possible) and instructed Mr. Atkinson to write to the State Department of Health and Human Services with questions regarding the cuts and to request a change in the reimbursement percentage from the state to the county. The positions and budget concerns were to be reevaluated in December 2001.
PROPOSED ORDER OF FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS REGARDING UNIVERSITY HIGHLANDS
County Attorney Hedrick presented to and reviewed with the Board a proposed Order of Findings and Conclusions regarding University Highlands.
Vice-Chairman Coffey, seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to adopt the Order of Findings and Conclusions as presented.
MISCELLANEOUS ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS
A. Literacy Day Proposed Proclamation – County Manager Nelson presented a proposed Proclamation to declare Sunday, August 26, 2001, as Literacy Day in Watauga County.
Commissioner Sweeting, seconded by Commissioner Wilkie, moved to proclaim Sunday, August 26, 2001, as Literacy Day in Watauga County.
B. Job Link Proposed Proclamation – County Manager Nelson presented a proposed Proclamation to declare September 3-8, 2001, as Job Link Appreciation Week in Watauga County.
Commissioner Wilkie, seconded by Commissioner Sweeting, moved to proclaim September 3-8, 2001, as Job Link Appreciation Week in Watauga County.
C. Boards and Commissions Future Appointments – County Manager Nelson stated that the following were first readings of future Boards and Commissions appointments.
Valle Crucis Historic Preservation Commission
Re-appointment of Boyd Whitley for a three year term
Re-appointment of Maria Hyde for a three year term
Watauga County Library Board of Trustees
Re-appointment of Roberta Jackson for a four year term
Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute (Watauga Campus) Advisory Committee had the following terms expire at the end of August: Sherry Moretz, Harold Tilley, Margaret Jones, Jackie Ward. The Clerk to the Board spoke with Dr. Sandra Anderson, Director of the Watauga Campus, who stated that she would forward recommendations.
No action was required and none was taken.
D. Announcements – County Manager Nelson stated that the first regularly scheduled meeting for September 2001 was re-scheduled for 9:00 A.M. on Tuesday, September 4, 2001 due to the Labor Day Holiday. The County Manager also stated that a Work Session was scheduled for the end of the September 4, 2001 meeting.
The County Manager also stated that Region D Council of Governments is having a Hispanic/Latino Forum on Wednesday, August 22, 2001, from 9:00 A.M. till 4:00 P.M. at a cost of $10 with registration open at the door.
County Attorney Hedrick announced that Wendy Simmons, NCDENR, plans to attend the October 1, 2001 Board meeting to discuss the Solid Waste Ordinance.
Ms. Trudy Moss who lives on Hodges Gap Road came before the Board requesting help with traffic problems on Hodges Gap Road. She stated that since University Highlands has been at the corner of Highway 105 and 105 Bypass the problems have worsened and she suggested such solutions as lowering the speed limit, installing speed bumps, and/or placing a no right turn sign at the Hodges Gap Road exit of University Highlands. Ms. Moss presented to the Board a petition signed by the residents of Hodges Gap Road.
By consensus, the Board, agreed to write a letter and forward the petition to the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
Mr. Bill Moretz came before the Board and requested that the Board develop a long-range plan for Watauga County regarding land uses before implementing any zoning ordinances. Mr. Moretz also stated that any such plan should include input from and be backed by the citizens of the county.
Ms. Jennifer Herman, Executive Director of Oasis, requested that the Board consider, during long range planning, developing the current Health Department building into an Incubator/Community Resource Center for non-profits once the new Health Department building is completed. Ms. Herman stated that the location of the current Health Department building appealed to the non-profit organizations that she surveyed because of it’s location and the fact that it is on an AppalCart route.
Ms. Deborah Greene suggested that a customer service survey be available to citizens after Board meetings. Ms. Greene questioned the timing of the Scenic Byway application. Ms. Greene also requested that the Board develop a plan in relation to the zoning issues.
Vice-Chairman Coffey, seconded by Commissioner Wilkie, moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:22 P.M.
Jimmy Hodges, Chairman
Anita J. Fogle, Clerk to the Board