WATAUGA COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 1999
The Watauga County Board of Commissioners held a regular meeting on Monday, November 1, 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
Libby Link, Clerk to the Board
Chairman Hodges called the meeting to order at 9:02 A.M. welcoming those in attendance.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Chairman Hodges called for additions or corrections to the October 19, 1999 regular meeting minutes as well as the October 27, 1999 special meeting and closed session minutes.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to approve the October 19, 1999 regular meeting minutes and the October 27, 1999 special meeting and closed session minutes as presented.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Chairman Hodges called for additions or corrections to the November 1, 1999 agenda.
Commissioner Coffey requested consideration of two resolutions to be discussed prior to Agenda Topic #15 (Miscellaneous Administrative Matters).
It was the consensus of the Board to approve the November 1, 1999 regular meeting agenda with the amendment.
BOONE AIRPORT "ZONING OVERLAY DISTRICT" REQUEST
Mr. Tom Terrell, Jr., an attorney from High Point, addressed the Board regarding consideration of a "zoning overlay district" which would regulate the height of buildings and towers and the types of uses allowed on land within the flight paths of the Boone Airport. Mr. Terrell stated he specialized in growth issues for County Government. He understood the County would soon be considering some land use regulations (recommended by the Blue Ribbon Commission on Growth Issues). Mr. Terrell added he had drafted some regulations which were presented to the Town of Boone and requested the Board’s support.
APPALACHIAN/BRIAN ESTATES’ REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL ASSISTED LIVING UNITS
Dr. Dan Meyer, Executive Director of Appalachian/Brian Estates (A/BE) requested permission to convert one of the facility’s floors (up to 48 units) enabling A/BE to provide nursing home level of care so that current residents who needed additional services could remain at A/BE. Dr. Meyer had discussed this at the Board’s October 19, 1999 meeting, and per the Board’s request, provided additional information. He reviewed what A/BE’s facility offered for residents (higher rates, lifestyle, accommodations, etc.) and stated A/BE was not in competition with the other rest homes in the community. In addition, Dr. Meyer explained that A/BE referred individuals to the other County rest homes if they could not afford to reside at A/BE. The State had passed a moratorium on new assisted living beds until September 30, 2000 unless a Board of Commissioners requested an exemption to meet a substantial need. Dr. Meyer stated a survey was conducted among residents and 99% wanted A/BE to be able to provide continuing care on site. He added the units would be converted as needed (up to 48 units).
Mr. Dennis Grady addressed the Board stating his Mother had resided at A/BE since 1993, and he was certain his mother would choose to stay at A/BE if nursing services were provided rather than having to move to a nursing facility. Both Mr. Grady and Dr. Meyer asked the Board to approve this request which would allow individuals to make a choice.
Ms. Sarah Massey spoke on behalf of Glenstone Health Care and encouraged the Board to refer to the moratorium that was in effect until September, 2000. In addition, she felt that if this request was approved, it would affect the other County’s rest home facilities currently in existence.
Ms. Joan Sharp spoke on behalf of Hi-Land Hall Adult Care encouraging the Board to review the moratorium in place and voiced her opposition to Dr. Meyer’s request.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to grant permission for Appalachian/Brian Estates to convert up to 48 units to nursing home level of care.
Prior to the vote, the Board discussed the number of units requested and asked Dr. Meyer if he would consider converting only 20 units at this time which several Commissioners felt would be more fair to the other facilities in the County. Dr. Meyer stated he would only convert the units as needed but reiterated his request for 48 units.
The following vote was then made on Commissioner Coffey’s motion:
VOTE: Aye-2 (Coffey, Lawrence)
Nay-3 (Hodges, Kohles, Sweeting)
INMATE PAY TELEPHONE AGREEMENT
Sheriff James C. "Red" Lyons addressed the Board regarding a new inmate pay telephone agreement. Sheriff Lyons stated that the County’s current 5-year contract with Talton Communications expired November 1, 2000. However, Evercom Systems, Inc. had purchased Talton Communications, and Evercom Systems, Inc. was willing to enter into a new contract for a 5-year period as well as pay the County Jail 35% for all phone receipts. (The current contract with Talton Communications paid the County 20% for phone receipts). Sheriff Lyons stated this increase in receipts would amount to approximately $5,000-$5,500 per year. He added the money received was spent on items the inmates used such as bedding, mattresses, etc. Sheriff Lyons requested the Board’s approval to enter into a new 5-year contract with Evercom Systems, Inc. who had agreed to make this contract effective October 1, 1999.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to approve this request.
ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW FOR HABITAT FOR HUMANITY
Planning & Inspections Director, Joe Furman, addressed the Board regarding the local Habitat for Humanity chapter which had received a Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP) from the Habitat for Humanity International. Mr. Furman stated the funds received would be used to purchase a small piece of land where a couple of houses could be built. He added Region D Council of Governments had agreed to perform the environmental review (the grant itself had funds to pay the Council of Governments for their services, however, federal requirements made it necessary to have a local government sponsor). Mr. Furman requested the Board’s approval to sponsor the environmental review.
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Kohles, moved to approve the Environmental Review for Habitat for Humanity as requested.
DSS COMPUTER NETWORK SYSTEM PROPOSAL
Social Services (DSS) Director, Jim Atkinson, presented a proposal with the N.C. Department of Commerce Office of Information Technology Services (ITS). Mr. Atkinson stated that over the past year he had been working toward getting a computer system installed at DSS. He added a computer system was necessary because there was information that DSS employees used which would be obsolete in the future. Mr. Atkinson estimated it would cost the County $60,000 to install the equipment and to maintain it ($49,000 for 40 workstations in a local area network environment and $7,000-$14,000 per year for additional technical support). He stated ITS would maintain the equipment which would be updated annually. In addition, Mr. Atkinson had spoken with Data Processing Director, Glenda Duncan, about the system which would be expandable for all County departments. He noted other counties used this system and requested the Board’s approval. Commissioner Coffey requested Mr. Atkinson provide additional information to be discussed further at the Board’s next regular meeting scheduled for November 16, 1999.
Monthly Collections Report – Tax Administrator, Larry McLean, presented the Tax Collections Report for the month of October, 1999.
Refunds and Releases – Tax Administrator McLean presented the following Refunds and Releases for October, 1999 for Board approval:
TO BE TYPED IN MINUTE BOOK
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to approve the Refunds and Releases Report as presented.
Finance Director, Doris Isaacs, presented the following budget amendment for Board approval:
Account # Description Debit Credit
103300-345000 E & H Tran. Assist. 33,600
103300-345002 Rural General Public 11,067
103300-345001 Work First/Employment 3,723
104500-469845 E & H-Trans.-AppalCART 8,000
104500-469843 Rural Gen. Public Prog. 11,067
104500-469844 Work First/Employment 3,723
105210-469845 E & H-Tran.-NRMH 3,350
105550-431301 E & H-Tran.-POA 11,250
105890-469846 E & H-Wat. Opport. 11,000
143300-345000 E & H Tran.-Assist. 8,172
145310-469845 E & H Tran.-Med. 8,172
To recognize a grant award for Elderly & Handicapped Transportation Assistance, Rural General Public Program and the Work First/Employment Transportation Program. Notice of the award was received 10/25/99, funds to be received 10/29/99.
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to approve the budget amendment as presented.
SANITATION DEPARTMENT REQUESTS
Assistant County Manager/OSD, Bob Frye, addressed the Board stating he had two items which required the Board’s approval.
The first item concerned two of the three administrative staff in the Sanitation Department who would be on maternity leave during the month of December. Mr. Frye felt it would be impossible for the remaining individual to run the scales as well as the other administrative details (payroll, vouchers, etc.). Therefore, Mr. Frye requested hiring one temporary secretary for a four-month period (December-March) through Boone Temporary Services. He felt this request would cost the County less money and was the best solution adding there was enough money in the Sanitation Department’s budget to cover this expense. In addition, Mr. Frye anticipated both employees returning to work by the first of March, 2000.
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to approve the hiring of a temporary secretary for a four-month period (December, 1999 through March, 2000).
Mr. Frye’s second item of business regarded the replacement of the Sanitation Department’s Cat 950B rubber tired loader which was 15 years old. He stated the following bids were received:
Equipment Type Bid Amount
Bestracs John Deere 644H $143,895
Caterpillar Caterpillar 950G $148,534
E.F. Craven Case 821c $150,025
Mitchell Distributing Company Komatsu WA380-3M $169,800
Mr. Frye noted that when the County purchased a large piece of equipment such as this loader, the County usually did it as a lease purchase agreement which enabled the County to spread the cost of the piece of equipment over a three year period. He recommended the Board award the low bidder, Bestracs for $143,895 adding there were sufficient funds in the Sanitation Department’s budget to purchase this equipment. In addition, Mr. Frye indicated the Sanitation Department would solicit bids for selling the current Cat 950B loader.
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Kohles, moved to approve the Bestracs bid of $143,895 contingent upon being able to obtain financing.
I-HAVE-A-DREAM WEEK PROCLAMATION
Chairman Hodges stated a request had been received (from the I-Have-A-Dream Task Force) to proclaim January 14-23, 2000 as I-Have-A-Dream Week in Watauga County.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to proclaim January 14-23, 2000 as I-Have-A-Dream Week in Watauga County.
Chairman Hodges noted appointments needed to be made to the Northwestern Regional Housing Authority and the Watauga County Board of Adjustment. However, Chairman Hodges requested these appointments be delayed until the Board’s next regular meeting scheduled for November 16, 1999.
It was the consensus of the Board to discuss these appointments at the Board’s next regular meeting scheduled for November 16, 1999.
FISCAL YEAR 1998/1999 AUDIT PRESENTATION
Mr. Bryce Holder, Holder, Copeland & Associates, made a brief presentation of the County’s Fiscal Year 1998/1999 audit. He discussed the general fund balance noting the overall collection rate was good. In addition, Mr. Holder commended Finance Director, Doris Isaacs, and her staff for the job they had done.
CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTIONS
Commissioner Coffey discussed two resolutions that the Commissioners had received from several counties. The first resolution supported displaying the Ten Commandments in schools (to help prevent violence). The second resolution supported parental involvement in the decision of minors (specifically to repeal N.C.G.S. 90-21.4 which required local health departments to provide contraceptives to minors without parental consent).
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to adopt a resolution to display the Ten Commandments in the County’s schools.
VOTE: Aye-3 (Coffey, Hodges, Lawrence)
Nay-2 (Kohles, Sweeting)
RESOLUTION BOOK #10, PAGE #7
Vice-Chairman Sweeting voiced her concerns that some students might be offended by having the Ten Commandments displayed in the schools and would prefer to discuss this issue further at an open meeting. Vice-Chairman Sweeting stated she was not in opposition to the Ten Commandments in the home or at church but did not approve displaying them in schools. Commissioner Coffey felt that passage of this resolution would prevent school violence.
The Board then discussed the second resolution under consideration regarding parental involvement. Vice-Chairman Sweeting voiced her concerns that there were a lot of parents who were not caring and supportive. She felt that by enacting this resolution that the Board would be doing harm to those children. Vice-Chairman Sweeting added there were children in the community who needed to be able to protect themselves from pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted diseases.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to adopt a resolution in Support of Parental Involvement in the Decision of Minors.
VOTE: Aye-3 (Coffey, Hodges, Lawrence)
Nay-2 (Kohles, Sweeting)
RESOLUTION BOOK #10, PAGE #8
MISCELLANEOUS ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS
Several miscellaneous administrative matters had been distributed for the Board’s information and review. None of these items required Board action.
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Kohles, moved to enter closed session at 10:45 A.M. to discuss: Attorney/Client Matters, Negotiations Concerning the Ambulance Franchise Agreement – G.S. 143-318.11(a)(3), and a Personnel Matter, a letter received over the previous weekend – G.S. 143-318.11(a)(6). Following a brief recess, the Board entered Closed Session at 10:53 A.M.
Commissioner Kohles seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to resume the regular meeting at 11:33 A.M.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to adjourn the meeting at 11:33 A.M.
Elizabeth H. Link
Clerk to the Board