WATAUGA COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2013
The Watauga County Board of Commissioners held a regular meeting on Tuesday, February 19, 2013, at 5:30 P.M. in the Commissioners' Board Room of the Watauga County Administration Building, Boone, North Carolina.
PRESENT: Nathan Miller, Chairman
David Blust, Vice-Chairman
Billy Kennedy, Commissioner
John Welch, Commissioner
Perry Yates, Commissioner
Stacy Eggers, IV, County Attorney
Deron Geouque, County Manager
Anita J. Fogle, Clerk to the Board
Chairman Miller called the meeting to order at 5:30 P.M.
Commissioner Yates opened the meeting with a prayer and Commissioner Welch led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Approval of Minutes
Chairman Miller called for additions and/or corrections to the February 5, 2013, regular meeting and closed session minutes.
Commissioner Yates, seconded by Commissioner Kennedy, moved to approve the regular meeting minutes as presented.
Commissioner Yates, seconded by Commissioner Kennedy, moved to approve the February 5, 2013, closed session meeting minutes as presented.
Approval of Agenda
Chairman Miller called for additions and/or corrections to the February 19, 2013, agenda.
County Manager Geouque requested to add consideration of a grant application request from the Department of Social Services and add a closed session to allow for discussion of Personnel Matters, per G. S. 143-318.11(a)(6) and Economic Development Incentives, per G. S. 143-318.11(a)(4).
County Attorney Eggers requested to add discussion of Attorney/Client Matters, per G. S. 143-318.11(a)(3) to the closed session as well.
Commissioner Kennedy, seconded by Vice-Chairman Blust, moved to approve the February 19, 2013, agenda as amended.
Sheriff’s Office Grant Request
Captain Dee Dee Rominger requested permission to apply for a $1,000 grant from the Boone Service League. If awarded, the grant would be used to purchase protective equipment to be utilized by Captain Rominger in self-defense classes.
Commissioner Yates, seconded by Commissioner Welch, moved to approve the submission of the grant application as requested by Captain Rominger.
Presentation of FY 2012 Audit Report
Ms. Kathy Brown presented the Fiscal Year 2012 County audit. The following highlights were mentioned:
· The total assets of the County exceeded its liabilities at the close of the fiscal year by $114,159,071, an increase of $3,352,145.
· The County’s unassigned fund balance for the general fund was $13,483,680 at the end of the year, representing 28.54% of total General Fund expenditures net of the refinancing loan payoffs of $60,251,201. The state average in 2011 was 26.27% for counties our population in NC. This is an increase of 1,603,324 in unassigned fund balance from the previous year. The additional categories of fund balance (restricted, assigned and committed) consist of $713,485 assigned fund balance and restricted fund balance of $3,096,698 in the general fund.
· Although the Board approved general fund balance appropriations of $8,150,103 a net deduction of only $4,532,887 was realized due to revenues in excess of budget estimates and expenditures less than budgeted amounts. Within this reduction to general fund balance is the $4,139,370 transferred to the Capital Projects Fund for the debt service plan. Expenditure savings came from continued conservative budgeting, limited capital purchases and delayed rehiring for positions which became open during the fiscal year.
· The collection rate for property taxes remained steady at 97.71% which was an increase from last year’s 97.21%. We are still well above the statewide average of 96.96% in 2011.
· Outstanding debt principal decreased by $9,066,035. Total outstanding debt principal at June 30, 2012 is $63,605,549. Watauga County’s legal debt limit is $704,668,390 so the County is well below the state limits.
· No material weaknesses were found in our accounting systems or internal controls.
Ms. Brown stated that submission of the Audit was delayed due to waiting on needed information from the State and AppalCART.
The Local Government Commission (LGC) requested the County respond in thirty (30) days as to how the County planned to ensure the audit for the current fiscal year would be submitted by October 31, 2013.
The County Manager stated that the County was working with AppalCART to make necessary changes to ensure their financial information was completed in a timely manner and did not delay future presentations of the County’s audit.
The audit was presented for information only and, therefore, no action was required.
Department of Social Services’ Grant Application Request
Ms. Angela Volpe, Social Worker, requested permission to apply for a $3,000 grant from the Clabough Foundation. If awarded, the grant would be used in the Department of Social Services’ Adult Services Emergency Fund through which crisis situation needs, such as medical, housing, transportation, etc., are met.
Commissioner Kennedy, seconded by Vice-Chairman Blust, moved to authorize the submission of the grant application as requested by Ms. Volpe.
Revised Audit Contract for FY 2012
Ms. Margaret Pierce presented a revised contract for audit services for FY 2012 with Bryce Holder, CPA, PA, in which the Local Government Commission (LGC) required the date of services to be changed to January 31, 2013. The amendment was required due to the tardiness of AppalCART delaying the submission of the County’s audit.
Commissioner Yates, seconded by Commissioner Welch, moved to approve the FY 2012 audit contract with Bryce Holder, CPA, PA, with the revised date of services changed to January 31, 2013.
Presentation of the Watauga County Public Library Annual Report
Ms. Monica Caruso, County Librarian, presented the Watauga County Public Library Annual Report.
The report was given for information only, and, therefore, no action was required.
Presentation of the Appalachian Regional Library, Inc., Annual Report
Ms. Molly Westmoreland, Regional Director, presented the Appalachian Regional Library, Inc., Annual Report.
The report was given for information only, and, therefore, no action was required.
Public Hearing to Allow Citizen Comment on the Reclassification of A Portion of the South Fork New River Watershed
Vice-Chairman Blust, seconded by Commissioner Kennedy, moved to declare the public hearing open at 6:12 P.M. to allow citizen comment on the reclassification of a portion of the South Fork New River watershed.
Mr. Joe Furman stated that the North Carolina Environmental Management Commission reclassified a segment of the South Fork of the New River as a Class IV Watershed. The reclassification was related to the Town of Boone’s water intake project on the New River. The County was required to implement watershed protection rules for the newly classified segment by March 30, 2013. Implementation would include the adoption of an official map designating the watershed as well as the adoption of text amendments to the County’s watershed protection ordinance which has been in place since 1994. If the County did not implement the watershed protection rules the Division of Water Quality would regulate the watershed and could fine the County an amount up to $10,000 per month. Mr. Furman also stated that a Plan of Consistency Statement would need to be adopted as well.
The following spoke during the public hearing: Karen Carter, Margaret Buck, Deborah Greene, and Frank Packard.
There being no further public comment, Chairman Miller declared the public hearing closed at 6:42 P.M.
County Attorney Eggers stated that the County was under the timeframe to adopt the ordinance to meet compliance by March 30, 2013; however, the County could petition the State to change the reclassification of the watershed at a later date. The County Attorney stated that the North Carolina Division of Water Quality made watershed designations and had the right to penalize the County if their rules were not followed.
After lengthy discussion regarding the County’s requirement to implement the watershed protection rules, Commissioner Yates, seconded by Commissioner Welch, moved to approve and submit to the North Carolina Division of Water Quality the official map, including the segment of the South Fork of the New River that was reclassified as a WS-IV watershed, the text amendments to the Watauga County Watershed Ordinance, and the Plan of Consistency Statement as presented.
VOTE: Aye-4(Miller, Kennedy, Welch, Yates)
Commissioner Blust, seconded by Commissioner Yates, moved to set March 30, 2013, as the effective date of the amended Watershed Ordinance.
Presentation of the 2012 Regional Mitigation Report
Fire Marshal Steve Sudderth presented the High Country Regional Mitigation Plan which FEMA requires to be updated every five (5) years. In the past, the plan only covered Watauga County and its municipalities; however, a grant for the development of a regional mitigation plan including the Counties of Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, and Wilkes was received. Adoption of the plan was required in order for the County to receive reimbursements from FEMA in the event of a disaster declaration in the County. The plan was adopted by all Watauga County municipalities, North Carolina Emergency Management, and FEMA.
Commissioner Yates, seconded by Commissioner Welch, moved to approve the Regional Mitigation Plan as presented by Mr. Sudderth.
Resolution Opposing the Adoption of Supplementary Standards for Multi-Family Housing in the Town of Boone
Chairman Miller presented a proposed resolution opposing the adoption of the supplementary standards for multi-family housing in the Town of Boone which was on the Town Council’s agenda for consideration at 7:30 P.M. February 19, 2013. Chairman Miller had requested the Town hear the standards at their Thursday, February 21, 2013, meeting in order to allow him to state his concerns and issues with the standards as currently presented. At present time, it was not clear if the Town of Boone planned to consider the new standards at their Tuesday, February 19, 2013, meeting or the Thursday, February 21, 2013, meeting.
Chairman Miller stated that adoption of the supplementary standards for multi-family housing would affect all properties within the Boone city limits and the Town’s extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ) area. The old high school property, which was under contract with developments plans that included multi-family housing, was within city limits, and, therefore the contract could be in jeopardy. If the contract was not carried through, future sale of the property would be impacted due to devaluation based on the restrictions imposed.
Commissioner Kennedy stated that he did not agree with all parts of the proposed resolution.
Commissioner Welch questioned the value of the resolution as opposed to potentially recessing the Commissioners’ meeting to allow for attendance at the Town of Boone’s Council meeting.
After discussion, Commissioner Yates, seconded by Vice-Chairman Blust, moved to adopt the resolution as presented by Chairman Miller.
VOTE: Aye-3(Miller, Blust, Yates)
Miscellaneous Administrative Matters
A. Boards & Commissions
County Manager Geouque stated that two terms on the Watauga County Tourism Development Authority (WCTDA) were set to expire at the end of February 2013. Mr. Gray was willing to continue to serve if so appointed. A second reading was held for Mr. Rob Holton, Mr. David Barker, and Ms. Victoria Smith and a first reading was held for Ms. Marcia Greene, Ms. Linda Walker, and Ms. Sonya Garland all of whom had also expressed interest in serving.
Chairman Miller tabled consideration of the appointments as this was a first reading for some of the applicants.
County Manager Geouque stated that each Commissioner appointed a representative to the Boone Rural Fire Protection Service District Board whose term would run concurrent with the appointing Commissioner’s term. Boone Rural Fire Service District Board members must own property and reside within that Fire Service District.
Commissioner Kennedy requested to appoint Mr. Jimmy Marsh as his representative.
Vice-Chairman Blust, seconded by Commissioner Yates, moved to appoint Mr. Jimmy Marsh to the Boone Rural Fire Protection Service District Board.
County Manager Geouque stated that each Commissioner nominated a representative to the Watauga County Planning Board whose term will run concurrent with the term of the appointing Commissioner. Planning Board members must live within the appointing Commissioners District and action must be taken by the entire Board of Commissioners to make these appointments.
Commissioners Kennedy and Welch each tabled their nominations for the Planning Board.
County Manager Geouque announced the following:
· The Annual Pre-Budget Retreat will be held on February 22 (12:00–6:00 P.M.), & 23 (9:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.), 2013, in the Commissioners’ Board Room.
· An Intergovernmental Retreat is scheduled for Monday, March 4, 2013, from 5:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M., on the 5th floor of the ASU Athletics Center, overlooking the stadium. The meeting will include a discussion of the High Country United Way Vision Council.
· The “Annual Report to the People” will be held on Tuesday, March 5, 2013, at 11:45 A.M. at Cooperative Extension
The following spoke during public comment:
· Ms. Hillary Wilson stated that the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) planned enhancements to three bridges located on Justus Road in Valle Crucis which would be detrimental to the farming operations of Maverick Farms, an educational non-profit dedicated to promoting family farming as a community resource and reconnecting local food networks. Ms. Wilson stated that the bridge improvements would cut through the heart of the farm which was located on both sides of the road.
Ms. Wilson requested the Board of Commissioners’ adopt a resolution requesting the NCDOT study all viable options available prior to following through with the planned bridge enhancements. Ms. Wilson stated that she had not yet received a notice of condemnation.
County Manager Geouque stated that the farm was a part of the Voluntary Farmland Preservation Program and, therefore, condemnation of the property needed for the bridge enhancements would have to come before the Voluntary Farm Preservation Program Board to allow for a public hearing to be held. The final decision; however, was ultimately NCDOT’s.
Commissioner Yates suggested Ms. Wilson contact Mr. Jim Palermo, a local resident, who was recently appointed to the State Board of Transportation.
Commissioner Kennedy, seconded by Vice-Chairman Blust, moved to send a letter to the North Carolina Department of Transportation requesting they revisit the Justus Road bridge enhancement project due to the potential loss of farmland.
The motion died as County Attorney Eggers stated that a motion could not be made during the public comment period.
Chairman Miller directed the County Manager to draft a resolution requesting the North Carolina Department of Transportation requesting they revisit the Justus Road bridge enhancement project due to the potential loss of farmland to present for consideration at the March 5, 2013, Board meeting.
· Ms. Jean Di Cola shared portions of a letter she had submitted to the High Country Press on February 19, 2013, entitled “The New High School Project: A Study in Financial Management (2006-2010).”
At 7:38 P.M., Commissioner Welch, seconded by Commissioner Yates, moved to enter Closed Session to discuss Attorney/Client Matters, per G. S. 143-318.11(a)(3), Economic Development Incentive Matters, per G. S. 143-318.11(a)(4), and Personnel Matters, per G. S. 143-318.11(a)(6).
Commissioner Welch, seconded by Commissioner Kennedy, moved to resume the open meeting at 8:23 P.M.
Commissioner Welch, seconded by Chairman Miller, moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:23 P.M.
Nathan A. Miller, Chairman
Anita J. Fogle, Clerk to the Board