WATAUGA COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
MONDAY, MAY 3, 1999
The Watauga County Board of Commissioners held a regular meeting on Monday, May 3, 1999 at 9:00 A.M. in the Board Room of the Watauga County Courthouse.
PRESENT: Jimmy Hodges, Chairman
Sue Sweeting, Vice-Chairman
James Coffey, Commissioner
Art Kohles, Commissioner
Jack Lawrence, Sr., Commissioner
Jeff Hedrick, County Attorney
Barry J. Reed, County Manager
Libby Link, Clerk to the Board
Chairman Hodges called the meeting to order at 9:00 A.M. welcoming those in attendance.
A moment of silence was observed.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Chairman Hodges called for additions or corrections to the April 12, 1999 regular and closed session minutes.
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to approve the April 12, 1999 regular and closed session minutes as presented.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to approve the agenda for the May 3, 1999 regular meeting as presented.
PUBLIC HEARING – COUNTY GOVERNMENT
SECONDARY ROAD IMPROVEMENTS PROGRAM – FISCAL YEAR 1999/2000
Chairman Hodges declared a public hearing open at 9:03 A.M. to hear the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s (NCDOT) proposed Secondary Road Improvement Program for Fiscal Year 1999/2000. He then turned the meeting over to Troy Absher, Division Maintenance Engineer. Mr. Absher welcomed those in attendance noting that the purpose for the public hearing was to solicit input. He then introduced the NCDOT staff who were present: Jim Mixon, Transportation Supervisor III, Johnny Brown, County Maintenance Engineer, Matthew Minton, Assistant District Engineer and Martin Bolick, District Engineer. He then turned the meeting over to Martin Bolick.
Mr. Bolick explained the formula for the paving of unpaved secondary roads and improvements on unpaved roads. Watauga County was estimated to receive a total allocation of $4,875,171 for Fiscal Year 1999/2000. Of this amount, $4,198,000 would be used for paving unpaved roads, $285,000 for paved road improvements, $185,916 for unpaved road improvements, $60,000 to construct a bridge and install a line of pipe on Sampson Road (SR 1526) and $146,255 in reserve for road additions, surveys, right of way signatures, overdrafts and entrances to fire departments and rescue squads. Mr. Bolick stated the priority lists for Fiscal Year 1999/2000 were the exact same lists as last year, and there were no changes.
Mr. Bolick answered several questions from Board members concerning specific roads on the priority lists. In addition, the following concerned citizens spoke: Bill Cook and Gary Rupard from the Matney community regarding the road condition and lack of guard rails on N.C. Highway 194.
Mr. Bolick then introduced Sam Erby, Board of Transportation member for Division 11. Mr. Erby stated the NCDOT officials were present to discuss secondary roads only but assured Mr. Cook and Mr. Ruppert that consideration would be addressed regarding their concerns.
There being no further public comments, Chairman Hodges declared the public hearing closed at 9:36 A.M.
Mr. Bolick requested the Board to take one of three actions:
- concur with the secondary roads plan as presented
- take no action
- recommend changes (as long as they did not deal with paving or paving priorities)
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to concur with the NCDOT Secondary Roads Improvement Plan for Fiscal Year 1999/2000.
In addition, Commissioner Coffey seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to write a letter to NCDOT requesting every consideration be made to improve the road conditions on N.C. Highway 194.
CABLE TELEVISION FRANCHISE TRANSFER
Tony Barlage, Regional Manager, Helicon Cable Communications (HCC) addressed the Board regarding the County’s cable television system. At the Board’s last meeting (April 12, 1999) Mr. Barlage stated the owners of HCC had entered into an agreement with Charter Communications, Inc. (CCI) which would result in the transfer of the cable television system serving the community. Several Commissioners had voiced their concerns about the high cost of cable rates and requested that CCI offer a basic package that included only the "over-the-air" broadcast channels (channels 2 through 15). This package with fewer channels would certainly be more affordable for customers. Mr. Barlage had received correspondence from CCI that it was not their policy to offer a low income basic tier, however, CCI might consider offering discounts for low income persons in certain circumstances. Vice-Chairman Sweeting stated there were a lot of people who wanted a basic package not necessarily due to monetary concerns but because they did not want all the channels. After discussion, Vice-Chairman Sweeting requested a letter be written to the FCC regarding this problem.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to approve the transfer of the County’s cable television franchise from Helicon Cable Communications to Charter Communications, Inc. and to send a letter to the FCC noting the Board’s concern that a more affordable basic package was not offered to citizens.
VOTE: Aye-3 (Coffey, Hodges, Lawrence)
Nay-2 (Kohles, Sweeting)
RESOLUTION BOOK #9, PAGE #60
METROSITE, INC. CONTRACT FOR CELLULAR TOWER MANAGEMENT
Planning & Inspections Director, Joe Furman, stated that at the Board’s March 16, 1999 meeting, the Board had requested additional information before a decision could be made on contracting with Metrosite, Inc. for cellular tower site management. Mr. Furman noted that most of the Board’s questions concerned the County’s participation in and control of site selection, marketing and pricing. He was notified from Metrosite, Inc. that the County would have the ultimate authority in these issues. Mr. Furman then introduced Susan Robold, Metrosite, Inc.’s local representative.
Ms. Robold stated Metrosite, Inc. worked closely with the N.C. Association of County Commissioners and the Institute of Government to facilitate cellular tower management for counties. She added that Metrosite, Inc. had contracts with Robeson, Bladen, Camden, Edgecombe, Yadkin, Currituck and Wilkes counties. Ms. Robold noted that Metrosite, Inc. would assess the potential for locating future cellular towers on County property, work with cellular tower companies on future siting and assist in the enforcement of the County’s cellular tower ordinance. This would not increase the number of cellular towers placed in the County than would otherwise occur.
Following discussion, County Attorney Hedrick made some suggestions to be included in the contract which would clarify that although Metrosite, Inc. might make some recommendations to change the County’s current cellular tower ordinance, any changes made would be solely at the Board’s discretion.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to hire Metrosite, Inc. to manage the County’s cellular tower management and for the contract to include County Attorney Hedrick’s suggestions.
AMENDMENT TO THE COMMUNITY PLANNING POLICIES
Planning & Inspections Director, Joe Furman, stated the Planning Board had discussed changing the County’s Community Planning Guidelines. He introduced Rick Mattar, Chairman of the Planning Board to highlight the Planning Board’s recommendations. The County’s current guidelines required a petition to be signed by 33% of the property owners within a proposed community boundary for a community council to be established. Mr. Mattar stated it had been proposed that the percentage be changed to a simple majority (50% + 1). He added the Planning Board had a lengthy discussion regarding this issue and received comments from citizens both favoring and opposing the change. Mr. Mattar stated it would be harder to form a community council if the percentage was changed, and therefore, the Planning Board concluded that the petition percentage and other requirements should not be changed but that any recommendation of a community council requesting action by the Board of Commissioners must be put to a well-publicized community-wide vote (a "non-binding referendum").
After discussion, Commissioner Coffey moved to change the County’s Community Planning Guidelines’ petition percentage from 33% to 50% + 1. Commissioner Lawrence seconded the motion for discussion purposes only. No vote was taken.
The following citizens voiced their opinions: Mary Stolberg stated she was in favor of community councils and requested the Board leave the petition percentage at 33% so it would not be more difficult to form a community council. Archie Carroll, Melvin Norris, John Bodenhamer, Milton Moretz, R. K. Jones and Howard Parlier felt that the petition percentage should be changed to 50% + 1 in order to ensure the majority of citizens supported a community council. Janice Carroll stated she was present to see the parameters (what area had been established).
Following the citizens’ comments, Commissioner Lawrence stated he withdrew his second to the motion. Chairman Hodges and Commissioner Coffey stated they supported community councils but only if they represented the majority of the people.
Chairman Hodges noted Commissioner Coffey had made a motion to change the County’s Community Planning Guidelines’ petition percentage from 33% to 50% + 1, and Chairman Hodges seconded this motion.
VOTE: Aye-2 (Coffey, Hodges)
Nay-3 (Kohles, Lawrence, Sweeting)
A recess was declared at 11:10 A.M.
The meeting resumed at 11:20 A.M.
SUBDIVISION PERFORMANCE GUARANTEE FOR TWIN RIVERS, PHASE II
Planning & Inspections Director, Joe Furman, stated the Planning Board had approved a final subdivision plat for Twin Rivers Phase II (10 lots). Pursuant to Section 92 of the subdivision regulations, the developer proposed a performance guarantee for road construction. The guarantee was an Irrevocable Letter of Credit in the amount of $105,600 from Bank of Mecklenburg. Mr. Furman requested Board approval.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to approve this subdivision performance guarantee for Twin Rivers, Phase II.
SENIOR CENTER WEEK
Project on Aging Director, Rocky Nelson, stated May had been declared Senior Month and requested the Board proclaim May 9-15, 1999 as Senior Center Week in Watauga County.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to proclaim May 9-15, 1999 as Senior Center Week in Watauga County.
LANDFILL PAVING AND ROAD TRACTOR BIDS
Assistant County Manager/OSD, Bob Frye, addressed the Board regarding two issues.
The first item regarded paving the recycling loading area behind the Transfer Station. The following bids were received:
Maymead, Inc. $56,000.00
Stout Construction Company $47,897.96
(submitted bid on behalf of Moretz Paving Company)
Vannoy Construction Company $46,819.26
Mr. Frye stated sufficient funds were available in the White Goods Account to cover this expense and requested the Board approve the Vannoy Construction Company bid of $46,819.26. Chairman Hodges requested a letter be written to the N.C. Department of Transportation regarding the poor condition of the state-maintained road that accesses the landfill (Landfill Road).
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to approve the Vannoy Construction Company bid of $46,819.26 and for a letter to be written to the N.C. Department of Transportation requesting corrective measures be made on Landfill Road.
Secondly, Mr. Frye stated the following bids were received for purchasing a used road tractor:
Carolina Piedmont Piedmont Ford
Kenworth Peterbilt, Inc. Sterling Truck
Truck Bid 1993 Kenworth 1994 Kenworth 1992 Peterbilt 378
Bid Price $28,500 $29,000 $32,000
Although the Piedmont Peterbilt, Inc. bid of $29,000 was not the low bidder, Mr. Frye recommended the Board approve its bid for several reasons. 1) it had less mileage (508,496 versus 597,712); 2) it was newer (1994 versus 1993); 3) it had a better paint job which would require less maintenance over the life of the truck; 4) it used the same type of tires currently used by the Sanitation Department’s current fleet of vehicles; 5) it had a non modified stock engine (3406 Cat 350 hp) – the low bid truck’s engine was a modified Cummins N10 which had been adjusted for higher horse power (430 hp). Mr. Frye felt that the 3406 Cat engine would give better service and require less maintenance.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Commissioner Kohles, moved to approve the Piedmont Peterbilt, Inc. bid of $29,000.
Monthly Collections Report – Tax Administrator, Larry McLean, presented the Tax Collections Report for the month of April, 1999.
Refunds and Releases – Tax Administrator McLean presented the following Refunds and Releases for April, 1999 for Board approval:
TO BE TYPED IN MINUTE BOOK
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to approve the Refunds and Releases Report as presented.
In addition, Tax Administrator McLean stated a request had been received from Deerfield United Methodist Church for approval of an application for exemption filed after the close of the listing period. Mr. McLean stated the Board had the authority to approve such applications (per G.S. 105-282.1 (a)(5).
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to approve this request.
DISPOSAL OF SURPLUS PROPERTY
County Manager Reed stated a request had been received from Maintenance Director, Robert Marsh, to dispose of the following capital outlay items. The range had previously been declared surplus property and offered for sale at two public auctions. Due to limited storage space, Mr. Marsh recommended disposal of this property.
Asset # Description Acquired Cost
02199 Toastmaster Electric Range 06/01/93 $500
n/a (12) Incandescent Light Fixtures unknown unknown
Justification: These light fixtures were classified on the fixed asset system as part of asset #00102, Law Enforcement Center. They were torn out and had no scrap value.
Commissioner Kohles seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to approve disposal of the above items.
County Manager Reed stated that per the Board’s request, Requests for Proposals for the County’s audit services were sent to eight firms the first week of March, 1999. Watauga County intended to continue the relationship with the auditor for a period of no less than three years on the basis of annual negotiation after the completion of the first audit contract year. The following responses were received:
Dixon, Odom & Co. FY 1999/2000 - $48,500
High Point, N.C. FY 2000/2001 - $50,000
FY 2001/2002 - $51,500
Holder, Copeland & Assoc. FY 1999/2000 - $28,500
Boone, N.C. FY 2000/2001 - $29,900
FY 2001/2002 - $31,000
County Manager Reed recommended that the County accept a 3-year contract with Holder, Copeland & Associates as well as the agreements submitted to conduct audits for the volunteer fire departments.
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Kohles, moved to approve Holder, Copeland & Associates to conduct the County’s audit for a 3-year period and the agreements to conduct audits for the volunteer fire departments.
County Manager Reed submitted the following budget amendments for Board approval:
Account # Description Debit Credit
213991-399101 Fund Bal. Approp.-New 39,143
219930-441400 Tax Office-Orthos 50,000
219800-498010 Transfer to General Fund 89,143
103980-398000 Transfer from Other Funds 89,143
104140-469507 Cont. Services-Orthos 89,143
To recognize the transfer of funds from the Capital Reserve Fund to the General Fund for the $99,996 contract with American Geographic Data for production of 100, 200 and 400 scale orthos approved at the February 1, 1999 Commissioner’s meeting. The balance of the funds for the contract would be budgeted in Fiscal Year 1999/2000.
Account # Description Debit Credit
103612-389000 Misc.-C.C. Preser. 8,892
106122-458000 Cap. Out.-Land Imp. 8,892
To recognize grant funding received by the Cove Creek Preservation and Development Council for the walking track as approved at the April 12, 1999 Commissioner’s meeting.
Account # Description Debit Credit
103586-332001 Medicaid Reimb. Fees 65,000
105550-412600 Salaries – Part-time 65,000
To recognize additional Medicaid reimbursement revenue and the corresponding increase for in-home aid part-time salaries expenditures.
Account # Description Debit Credit
103300-343302 Emerg. Mgt. Grant-Supplemental 1,000
104330-451000 Capital Outlay 800
104330-435200 M & R Equip. 200
To recognize grant funds awarded to the Emergency Management Office to be used to purchase and maintain software for an emergency management program.
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to approve the budget amendments as presented.
CONSIDERATION OF APPOINTMENTS
County Manager Reed stated that at the Board’s last meeting (April 12, 1999) the Board had discussed making an appointment to the Howard’s Knob/Rich Mountain task force created by the Town of Boone. It was the consensus of the Board to find out if the Town had scheduled any meetings - the dates, times, logistics, etc. and to discuss at the Board’s next regular meeting scheduled for May 18, 1999.
County Manager Reed stated Mabel School had submitted the following individuals to fill the expired term of Martie Reece on the Parks & Recreation Commission: Larry Haney and Donna Nicastro. Ms. Reece’s term expired December, 1998.
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to appoint Donna Nicastro to the Parks & Recreation Commission for a three-year term (term would expire December, 2001).
County Manager Reed noted the following board members terms expired in May, 1999: James Wilcox, Carroll Garland, Margaret Johnston and Tim Wilson, Region D Certified Development Corporation (SBA 504 Certified Development Corporation Board).
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to reappoint the current members, James Wilcox, Carroll Garland, Margaret Johnston and Tim Wilson to the Region D Certified Development Corporation.
County Manager Reed asked if the Board wished to appoint a Commissioner to serve on the JobLink Management Team. It was noted that since JobLink had representatives from many existing organizations and the Commissioners served on almost each and every one of them, the Board did not need representation on the management team.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to decline appointing a Commissioner to the JobLink Management Team for the reason indicated.
DONATION TO THE 2000 NACO CONFERENCE
County Manager Reed stated a letter was received from the N.C. Association of County Commissioners requesting each county make a donation toward the cost of hosting next years’ National Association of Counties Annual Conference in Charlotte. The Association did not request a specific amount but recently suggested $.03 per capita. For the County, that amounted to about $1,200. Mr. Reed stated the donation would be budgeted for next year’s budget.
Following brief discussion, Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Kohles, moved to notify the N.C. Association of County Commissioners that Watauga County would make a $1,200 donation toward the cost of hosting next years’ National Association of Counties Annual Conference in Charlotte.
CONSIDERATION OF HOLDING COMMUNITY MEETINGS
County Manager Reed stated he had spoken with Chairman Hodges about the Board holding a series of meetings in different communities throughout the County. Mr. Reed added the likely months for such meetings included June through October. He noted the Board could hold a regularly scheduled meeting during each of those months at different locations around the County, or the Board could hold a special meeting only to interact with the area residents. Mr. Reed suggested holding meetings in Foscoe, Deep Gap, Cove Creek, Blowing Rock and Green Valley. The Board unanimously supported this effort and wished to have the community meetings in the evenings (beginning at 7:00 P.M.) so that those individuals who work out of the home as well as children could attend the meetings. In addition to the proposed sites listed, the Board requested conducting a meeting in the Bethel community. Mr. Reed stated the sites could be rotated on an annual basis.
Following discussion considering community facilities to conduct the meetings, Commissioner Kohles seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to accept County Manager Reed’s proposal and for staff to facilitate the locations as discussed and to advertise the meetings as required.
PRESENTATION OF FISCAL YEAR 2000 CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM
County Manager Reed presented the proposed Capital Improvement Program Budget (CIP) for Fiscal Year 1999/2000. He noted it was projected for the next five years and primarily included the County facilities instead of the schools and Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute. Mr. Reed stated that when the proposed budget was presented at the Board’s next meeting scheduled for May 18, 1999, he would discuss the CIP’s various projects. He added this was provided for the Board’s review and did not require Board approval until June, 1999.
MISCELLANEOUS ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS
County Manager Reed had distributed many miscellaneous items (future Board appointments, an LGC response letter from the N.C. Department of State Treasurer, various board/committee minutes, a jail inspection report, historial survey letter and State Legislator’s correspondence. None of these items required Board action.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to enter closed session at 12:03 P.M. to discuss: Real Property Acquisition – G.S. 143-318.11(a)(5)(i), and Business Location or Expansion – G.S. 143-318.4.
Commissioner Kohles seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to resume the regular meeting at 12:25 P.M.
Commissioner Kohles seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to adjourn the meeting at 12:25 P.M.
Elizabeth H. Link
Clerk to the Board