WATAUGA COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
MONDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2001
The Watauga County Board of Commissioners held a regular meeting on Monday, December 3, 2001 at 9:00 A.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
Jeff Hedrick, County Attorney
Robert E. Nelson, Jr., County Manager
Anita J. Fogle, Clerk to the Board
Chairman Hodges called the meeting to order at 9:02 A.M. welcoming those in attendance.
A moment of silence was observed.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Chairman Hodges called for additions or corrections to the November 20, 2001 regular meeting minutes.
Vice-Chairman Coffey, seconded by Commissioner Sweeting, moved to approve the November 20, 2001 regular meeting minutes as presented.
BOARD ORGANIZATIONAL MATTERS
The meeting was turned over to County Manager Nelson for the election of a Chairman for the Watauga County Board of Commissioners.
A. Election of Officers. County Manager Nelson called for nominations for Chairman of the Watauga County Board of Commissioners. Vice-Chairman Coffey seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, nominated Jimmy Hodges for Chairman. There being no further nominations a vote was taken.
The meeting was then turned over to Chairman Hodges.
Chairman Hodges called for nominations for Vice-Chairman of the Watauga County Board of Commissioners. Commissioner Lawrence nominated James Coffey for Vice-Chairman.
VOTE: Aye-3 (Hodges, Coffey, Lawrence)
Based on the results of the votes, James Coffey was declared Vice-Chairman.
B. Staff Appointments. Commissioner Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to re-appoint Robert E. Nelson, Jr. as Watauga County Manager.
Commissioner Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to re-appoint Anita J. Fogle as Clerk to the Board and Darcy Moore as Substitute Clerk to the Board.
Commissioner Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to re-appoint Jeffery M. Hedrick as Watauga County Attorney.
C. Fidelity Bonds. The following individual fidelity bonds were presented for approval:
Position Bond Amount Statutory Requirement
Finance Director $50,000 At least $10,000, no more
than $250,000 G.S. 159-29
Deputy Finance Director $50,000 Same as above
(Robert. E. Nelson, Jr.)
Tax Collector $50,000 Amount considered reasonable
by BCC G.S. 105-349-c
Register of Deeds $50,000 At least $10,000 but no more
than $50,000 G.S. 161-4
Sheriff $25,000 $25,000 maximum G.S. 162-8
Commissioner Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to approve the individual fidelity bonds as presented.
D. Commissioner-Boards & Commissions Appointments. The following Commissioner Board appointments were made:
Appalachian District Health Department Coffey
AppalCART Authority Wilkie
Blue Ridge Resource Conservation & Development Area Sweeting
Children’s Council/Child Protection Team Wilkie
Committee Of 100 Hodges
Criminal Justice Partnership Wilkie
Economic Development Commission Hodges
EMS Advisory Committee Sweeting
Juvenile Crime Prevention Council Wilkie
Library Board Lawrence
Motor Vehicle Valuation Review Comm. Hodges
New River Mental Health Coffey
Northwestern Regional Housing Authority (Term Expires 12/12/04) Martin
POA Advisory Committee (Home & Community Care Block Grant) Lawrence
Region D Council Of Governments-Exec. Bd. Coffey
Job Training Consortium
Northwest Advisory Council Of Advantage West
Social Services Board (Term Expires 6/2004) Gaines Edwards
Volunteer Outreach Center Lawrence
Watauga Advisory Board (CCC&TI) Hodges
Watauga County Medical Center Board Of Trustees Lawrence
Watauga County Fire Commission Sweeting
Watauga Opportunities, Inc. Coffey
Watauga County Recreation Commission Sweeting
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Vice-Chairman Coffey, moved to approve the December 3, 2001 agenda as presented.
PUBLIC HEARING ON APPALCART’S FISCAL YEAR 2002/2003 GRANT PROPOSAL
A public hearing was opened at 9:10 A.M. to consider AppalCART’s proposed Fiscal Year 2002/2003 grant application/budget.
AppalCART Director, Chris Turner, presented an Annual Passenger Trips Summary, an Annual Miles Summary and an Annual Hours Summary for the current fiscal year. These statistics were provided for each of AppalCART’s routes.
Mr. Turner also reviewed AppalCART’s proposed 2002/2003 Administration and Operations budget as well as several of the grant application highlights. He stated this grant application had to be submitted to the State no later than December 14, 2001 and requested Board approval.
There being no public comment, Chairman Hodges declared the public hearing closed at 9:16 A.M.
Commissioner Sweeting, seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to approve AppalCART’s Fiscal Year 2002/2003 Community Transportation Program Grant Application as presented.
WATAUGA COUNTY WEBSITE DEMONSTRATION
Ms. Glenda Duncan, Information Technologies Manager, updated the Board on the progress of the County’s Web Site and introduced Dr. Paul Combs, Director of Appalachian Regional Development Institute (ARDI). Dr. Combs, along with Mr. Robert Pottschmidt, demonstrated Watauga County’s Web Site. In Phase II of production, the interactive Web Site gave access to County Departments, Board minutes and agendas, employment opportunities and the ability to access County records and documents such as Deeds, Tax Information, and Ordinances. Dr. Combs then gave a brief update on WataugaNet and the E-Communities effort.
As this presentation was for information only, no action was needed and none was taken.
A. Budget Amendments – Finance Director, Doris Isaacs, presented the following budget amendments for Board approval:
Account # Description Debit Credit
103300-345000 E&D Trans. Grant 33,774
104500-469845 AppalCART-Para-transit 8,022
105210-469845 Carolina Friendship 3,369
105550-431301 POA-E & D 11,312
105890-469846 Watauga Opport.-E & D 11,071
143300-345000 E & D Trans. Grant 9,714
145310-469845 DSS-E & D Trans. 9,714
To recognize award of the Elderly & Disabled Transportation Grant.
Account # Description Debit Credit
103300-352100 Crim. Justice Part. Program 5,633
105210-469820 NRMH-CJPP 5,633
To recognize a decrease in the amount of grant funds awarded for the Criminal Justice Partnership Program.
Account # Description Debit Credit
103910-391000 Proceeds of Lease Purchase 1,821,660
103980-398021 Transfer From Capital Reserve 1,654,112
103980-398021 Trans. From Cap. Reserve-Loan 531,887
104267-458000 Capital Improvement-Bldg. 4,007,659
To appropriate funds for the Health Department Building construction contracts approved at the September 18th meeting.
Account # Description Debit Credit
213612-384000 Town of Boone-Settlement 45,000
219930-461201 Rec. Facilities-Anne Marie Dr. 45,000
103991-399101 Approp. Fund Balance-New 45,000
106127-449900 Misc.-Expense 40,000
109800-498021 Transfer to Capital Reserve 5,000
213980-398100 Transfer from Gen. Fund 5,000
219930-461201 Rec. Facilities-Anne Marie Dr. 5,000
To recognize funds received from Town of Boone during the current fiscal year for Anne Marie Drive improvements and to appropriate funds received last year for the Anne Marie Drive Project that have been expended this fiscal year.
Commissioner Lawrence, seconded by Vice-Chairman Coffey, moved to approve the budget amendments as presented.
B. Request for Final Approval of Refunding Bond Sale – Ms. Doris Isaacs, Finance Director, reviewed the Resolution for Final Approval of the Refunding Bond Sale. The Resolution (a) confirmed the maturities of and rates of interest to be borne by the Refunding Bonds; (b) approved the Official Statement and Final Official Statement; and (c) approved or confirmed documents and actions relating to the issue. Ms. Isaacs also reviewed the settlement report.
Vice-Chairman Coffey, seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to adopt the Resolution for Final Approval of the Refunding Bond Sale as presented by Ms. Isaacs.
A. Collections Report – Tax Administrator, Kelvin Byrd, presented the Tax Collections Report for the month of November, 2001.
B. Refunds & Releases – Tax Administrator Byrd presented the following Refunds and Releases for November, 2001 for Board approval:
TO BE TYPED IN MINUTE BOOK
Commissioner Sweeting seconded by Vice-Chairman Coffey, moved to approve the Refunds and Releases Report as presented.
C. Tax Appeal – Rumple Memorial Presbyterian Church – Tax Administrator Byrd stated that during the tax exempt audit performed in conjunction with the current revaluation process it was discovered that Rumple Memorial Presbyterian Church owed taxes for a piece of property they own that was not allowed tax exempt status. Mr. Byrd stated that according to State law the taxes were also owed on said property for the previous five years.
Mr. Bill Hall, an Elder at Rumple Memorial Presbyterian Church, was sworn in by County Attorney Hedrick. Mr. Hall stated that the Church planned to pay the taxes owed for the current year but had appealed paying the taxes for the previous five years. Mr. Hall stated that had they known they owed the taxes they would have paid them at that time.
Tax Administrator Byrd stated that it was the taxpayers responsibility to bring to the attention of the Tax Office when tax-exempt status was lost and that the law requires the Tax Office to bill for five years in back taxes.
After discussion the Board requested that the County Attorney continue to research and advise the Board on this matter.
Chairman Hodges declared a Recess on this matter until the next Board Meeting scheduled for Monday, January 7, 2002.
DISCUSSION OF DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES FUNDING CUTS
Mr. Jim Atkinson, Department of Social Services Director, updated the Board on the funding cuts related to the Program Integrity Position and the Carolina Access half-time position. Mr. Atkinson stated that he had met with the County Manager and Finance Director and reviewed revenues and expenditures to date. However, due to the State’s reimbursement for DSS administrative expenses running two to three months behind it was difficult to project revenues for the Department of Social Services. Even though expenditures were slightly less than projected, the cuts imposed by the State for these two positions resulted in a $36,042 increase needed in County funds.
Commissioner Lawrence, seconded by Commissioner Sweeting, moved to continue the Program Integrity position and the Carolina Access half-time position and to take funds from the fund balance if necessary.
MISCELLANEOUS ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS
A. Discussion of Ginn House Sale – County Manager Nelson stated that there was no upset bid received during the most recent ten (10) day period which expired November 26, 2001 at 1:00 P.M. The County Manager stated that the current high offer was from Mr. John Turner in the amount of $485,000.
Mr. Turner stated that if his offer was accepted he preferred to place the Deed in a Limited Liability Company.
Vice-Chairman Coffey, seconded by Commissioner Sweeting, moved to accept Mr. Turner’s offer in the amount of $485,000 to purchase the Ginn House property with no contingencies.
B. Charter Communications Settlement Discussion – County Manager Nelson stated that as a part of the County’s contract with Robert S. Segal, CPA, PA, to conduct an expense reduction and revenue enhancement audit of Watauga County financial operations, an audit of Charter Communications was conducted to verify that the 3% franchise fee was being appropriately remitted to Watauga County.
The County Manager stated that during the audit of the five year period ending December 31, 2000, the County’s accountants were of the opinion that Charter Communications had under-paid the County $21,273. Interest was calculated in the amount of $3,210 for a total bill of $24,483 which was forwarded to Charter Communications and requested for payment.
The County Manager stated that Charter Communications offered $21,800 to settle the matter and upon review, the County’s accountants recommended that the County accept this amount as full settlement of the audit.
Vice-Chairman Coffey, seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to accept the settlement offered by Charter Communications as presented.
C. Charleston Forge Property Transfer Request – County Manager Nelson stated that Mr. and Mrs. Art Barber had requested a transfer of the property that was purchased from Watauga County in the Industrial park to a Limited Liability Company, Barber Investments LLC. The County Attorney expressed concerns regarding the wording of the agreement in that it appeared that by signing it would eliminate the Barber’s personal responsibility for the property.
Commissioner Sweeting, seconded by Vice-Chairman Coffey, moved to approve this transfer contingent upon Mr. and Mrs. Barber remaining personally liable for the property.
D. Sheriff Salary Resolution – County Manager Nelson stated that per Statute, prior to the filing period for the fall elections, the Board must establish the salary for the Sheriff in order that filing fees be determined. The County Manager stated that $48,403 was listed as the entry level salary on the County’s current pay plan. County Manager Nelson presented a Resolution to the Board which would set the salary.
Commissioner Sweeting seconded by Vice-Chairman Coffey, moved to adopt this resolution as presented.
E. Boards and Commissions – County Manager Nelson stated that the following nominations were made for the Watauga Medical Center Board of Trustees for the Board’s consideration: John Blackburn and Hugh Fields (vote for one) and Dale Greene, Doretha Greene, Connie Higby, Joni Petschauer, Gail Story, and Kenneth Wilcox (vote for three). The following votes were made:
Chairman Hodges – John Blackburn, Dale Greene, Gail Story, Kenneth Wilcox
Vice-Chairman Coffey – John Blackburn, Dale Greene, Gail Story, Kenneth Wilcox
Commissioner Lawrence – John Blackburn, Dale Greene, Gail Story, Kenneth Wilcox
Commissioner Sweeting – Connie Higby
Based on the results of the vote, Gail Story was appointed to the Watauga Medical Center Board of Trustees for a three-year term and John Blackburn, Dale Greene and Kenneth Wilcox were re-appointed to the Watauga Medical Center Board of Trustees for three-year terms.
County Manager Nelson stated that Mr. Ric Mattar was nominated for re-appointment to the Watauga County Planning Board.
Commissioner Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to re-appoint Mr. Ric Mattar to a four-year term to the Watauga County Planning Board.
The County Manager stated that the Western North Carolina Caucus was being established to ensure parity in State and Federal funding for western North Carolina. The plan was to form a fifty-two (52) member group that consists of one county commissioner from each county and one elected official from each of the municipalities. Herb Greene, Chairman of the Board from Caldwell County, requests that the Board appoint a member to represent Watauga County.
Commissioner Lawrence requested that the County Manager check to see if the appointment has to be one of the Commissioners or if they could appoint someone to represent Watauga County.
County Manager Nelson stated that Mr. Fred Badders was recommended for a one-year appointment to the Watauga County Community Advisory Committee for Long Term Care – Nursing Homes to fill a current vacancy. This was the first reading for this appointment and therefore no action is required until the January 7, 2002 meeting.
F. Juvenile Crime Prevention Council (JCPC) Grant Request – Ms. Melissa Johnson, Chair of the Watauga County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council (JCPC), informed the Board that the NC Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention reduced funding for the Watauga County JCPC in the amount of $5,000. Ms. Johnson presented the Board with a budget revision that delineated the proposed cuts.
Ms. Johnson also stated that the following have been nominated for the JCPC Board:
Mr. Mitchell Yates 2 year term
Mr. Larry Warren 1 year term
Mr. Steven Carlson 1 year term
Commissioner Sweeting, seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to approve the budget revision as well as the appointments to the JCPC Board as presented.
G. Announcements – The County Manager announced that the Holiday Luncheon for County employees was scheduled for Tuesday, December 11, 2001 at the Dan’l Boone Inn from 12:00-2:00 P.M., and Commissioners as well as County Attorney Hedrick were invited to attend.
The second regular monthly Board meeting scheduled for December 18, 2001 had been cancelled.
The County Manager proposed to schedule the Board’s annual retreat for the end of February at the Human Services Conference Room for a Friday night and half a day Saturday. The Manager requested that Commissioners forward topics they wanted to address at the retreat to him at the January meeting for tentative agenda preparation.
At 10:05 A.M., Commissioner Lawrence, seconded by Commissioner Sweeting, moved to enter Closed Session to discuss Land Acquisition, per G.S. 143-318.11(a)(5)(i).
Commissioner Lawrence, seconded by Vice-Chairman Coffey, moved to resume the open meeting at 11:43 A.M.
WORK SESSION – CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PLAN
Following a ten minutes recess, the Commissioners reported to the Manager’s Conference Room for a work session to update the Capital Improvement Plan.
The Manager reviewed the Engineer’s report regarding the feasibility of renovating the recently purchased Heilig Meyers Warehouse. Four options were given regarding use of the property. The County Manager also reviewed a list detailing space needs of County and Non-County offices.
After discussion, Vice-Chairman Coffey, seconded by Chairman Hodges, moved to renovate the Heilig Meyers Building to be used for office space.
VOTE: Aye-3 (Hodges, Coffey, Lawrence)
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Vice-Chairman Coffey, moved to adjourn the meeting at 1:15 P.M.
Anita J. Fogle
Clerk to the Board