WATAUGA COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2017
The Watauga County Board of Commissioners held a regular meeting, as scheduled, on Tuesday, December 19, 2017, at 5:30 P.M. in the Commissioners' Board Room of the Watauga County Administration Building, Boone, North Carolina.
PRESENT: John Welch, Chairman
Billy Kennedy, Vice-Chairman
Jimmy Hodges, Commissioner
Larry Turnbow, Commissioner
Perry Yates, Commissioner
Frank C. “Ham” Wilson, III, County Attorney
Deron Geouque, County Manager
Anita J. Fogle, Clerk to the Board
Chairman Welch called the meeting to order at 5:32 P.M.
Commissioner Yates opened with a prayer and Vice-Chairman Kennedy led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Approval of Minutes
Chairman Welch called for additions and/or corrections to the December 5, 2017, regular meeting and closed session minutes.
Vice-Chairman Kennedy, seconded by Commissioner Turnbow, moved to approve the December 5, 2017, regular meeting minutes as presented.
Vice-Chairman Kennedy, seconded by Commissioner Turnbow, moved to approve the December 5, 2017, closed session minutes as presented.
Approval of Agenda
Chairman Welch called for additions and/or corrections to the December 19, 2017, agenda.
Commissioner Hodges, seconded by Vice-Chairman Kennedy, moved to approve the December 19, 2017, agenda as presented.
Presentation of Comprehensive Classification and Compensation Study by Springsted, Inc.
Ms. Ann Antonsen, Vice President Consultant for Springsted Incorporated, presented the Comprehensive Classification and Compensation Study and the new proposed pay plan for the County.
Ms. Antonsen stated that Springsted provided the following three options for updating the County’s current compensation system:
Option one recommends moving all positions to the minimum of the new pay grade at a cost of $237,977.44 to the County.
Option two recommends moving all positions to the minimum of the new pay grade or a 2% increase whichever is greater at a cost of $378,538.33 to the County.
Option three recommends moving all employees to the minimum of the new pay grade and placing them within the proposed pay grade based on years of service in their current position. Under option three employees would receive a 0.50 percent increase for each year of service in their current position with the County at a cost of $569,722.20 to the County.
Ms. Antonsen stated that Springsted recommends option three. This option not only recognizes employees for longevity in their current position, but also recognizes the value of length of service and the development of skills and abilities in regard to performing the tasks of the position. In addition, option three works toward reducing compression with salaries and moves employees away from the minimum salary and closer toward midpoint which is the market rate.
Ms. Antonsen also provided salary and compensation information for the County Manager position which was separate from the pay plan.
Each option listed above would also require the coverage of benefits. Funding is allocated in the current budget to accommodate any of the options chosen. If approved, it is recommended the option selected would become effective January 1, 2018.
After discussion, Commissioner Turnbow, seconded by Vice-Chairman Kennedy, moved to adopt the Pay Plan as presented effective January 1, 2018.
Commissioner Turnbow, seconded by Vice-Chairman Kennedy, moved to approve Option 3 which moves all employees to the minimum of the new pay grade and places them within the proposed pay grade based on years of service in their current position with employees receiving a 0.50 percent increase for each year of service in their current position with the County to become effective January 1, 2018.
Sheriff’s Office Request to Purchase and Install Additional Cameras at the Law Enforcement Center
County Manager Geouque presented a request, on behalf of the Sheriff’s Office, for the purchase of four (4) additional cameras and a DVR at the law enforcement center in the amount of $24,453. To ensure compatibility with the existing system the cameras and DVR would be purchased from South Western Communications who is the facility’s current provider. Adequate funds have been appropriated in the current fiscal year budget to cover the related expense.
Commissioner Yates, seconded by Vice-Chairman Kennedy, moved to approve the Sheriff’s Office purchase of four (4) cameras and an additional DVR from South Western Communications in the amount of $24,453.
Discussion Regarding a Proposed Site Plan and Development Costs for a Watauga Community Housing Trust Project
Mr. Scott Eggers, Chairman of the Watauga Community Housing Trust, discussed the proposed development plan for County-owned property on Brookshire Road. A site plan along with development cost estimates was presented.
Commissioner Yates stated that developers had inquired recently about the property. County Manager Geouque stated that there was not a written offer as he was determining if there was interest from the Board to sell the property.
After lengthy discussion, Commissioner Turnbow, seconded by Commissioner Yates, moved to direct the County Manager to contact the potential buyer and give thirty days for an offer to be submitted and then to contact Mr. Eggers to get him back on the agenda.
Planning & Inspections and Economic Development Matters
A. Request to Re-Apply for A Clean Water Management Trust Fund Grant for Wetlands Creation at the County’s Brookshire Road Property
Mr. Joe Furman stated that an application was submitted by the County, as prepared by Blue Ridge Environmental Consultants (BREC), for Clean Water Management Trust Funds (CWMTF) to construct wetlands on the County’s property on Brookshire Road. Since the submission of the application, Mr. Furman stated that he had learned that the New River Conservancy had submitted a successful application for the previous funding cycle to do stream bank restoration of the South Fork New River adjacent to the County’s land.
The two projects are entirely different, but there is some overlap in the area to be under either conservation easement or restrictive covenants which affect the grant match. Specifically, both projects show the same 50’ buffer along the river which encompasses the existing greenway, and which is included as a match (value of property under easement/covenants) in the BREC application. Due to the fact that the New River Conservancy’s project was approved, it was necessary to revise the BREC project, which is pending. This was discussed with CWMTF staff during a site visit. Also discussed was the value of the greenway construction, which was shown as a match in the BREC project, but is not eligible to be used. The same is true for the soccer fields, which were shown to be placed under conservation easement or covenants and used as a match in the BREC application.
The Board approved Mr. Furman’s request to revise the application. The easement or covenants required formal approval only if the application is approved. The revised application removed the overlapping easement and the easement of the soccer fields, and added a conservation easement adjacent to the South Fork New River and small tributary on the original Brookshire Park. The budget changes to reflect the higher value for the area to be under easement/covenant, removal of credit (match) of the constructed greenway on the soccer field property, and an increased in-kind match to be provided by BREC.
Mr. Furman stated that the County recently learned the grant was not funded but scored high during the ranking process. CWMTF staff indicated the project ranking could be improved by increasing the match. BREC has agreed to provide an additional $60,000 in matching funds and a revised budget was presented.
Mr. Furman stated that there was a chance that the grant would still be awarded at a lesser amount and also requested permission to apply for the same grant in 2018.
Commissioner Yates, seconded by Vice-Chairman Kennedy, moved to authorize reapplying for the Clean Water Management Trust Funds (CWMTF) grant early in 2018 with an increased match and decreased grant amount.
B. Request to Schedule A Public Hearing to Allow Citizen Comment on A Proposed Grant Application to the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) for the Middle Fork Greenway Project
Mr. Furman stated that, in November, the County was notified the grant application submitted to the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) was not awarded. The Board approved staff to reapply for the grant. As a requirement of the re-submittal, a separate public hearing outside of normal County business must be conducted. Mr. Furman requested the Board schedule a public hearing on February 20, 2018, at 5:00 P.M. prior to the regularly scheduled Board meeting.
Commissioner Yates, seconded by Commissioner Turnbow, moved to schedule a public hearing to allow citizen comment on a proposed grant application to the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) on February 20, 2018, at 5:00 PM in the Commissioner’s Board room.
C. Out-of-State Travel Request
Mr. Joe Furman stated that he had been selected by the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, as part of their Cooperative Marketing Program, to accompany staff to Denver, Colorado July 23-26, 2018, for the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market. Mr. Furman shared that this will be an opportunity to make contact with manufactures that could be beneficial to the County. Two such manufactures already in Watauga County are Misty Mountain Threadworks and Tsuga Canopies. Manufactures such as these were identified as recruiting targets from the study conducted by the County’s consultant. Mr. Furman estimated the cost for him to participate would be approximately $2,000 including travel, lodging, and meals. Board action is required to approve the out-of-state travel.
Commissioner Turnbow, seconded by Commissioner Yates, moved to approve Mr. Joe Furman’s out-of-state travel as requested.
A. Monthly Collections Report
Tax Administrator, Mr. Larry Warren, presented the Tax Collections Report for the month of November 2017. This report was presented for information only and, therefore, no action was required.
B. Refunds and Releases
Mr. Warren presented the Refunds and Releases Report for November 2017 for Board approval:
TO BE TYPED IN MINUTE BOOK
Commissioner Yates, seconded by Vice-Chairman Kennedy, moved to approve the Refunds and Releases Report for November 2017, as presented.
Miscellaneous Administrative Matters
A. Proposed Resolution Encouraging Congress to Create A Reliable and Predictable Stream of Resources to Address Deferred Maintenance Needs In America’s National Park System
County Manager Geouque presented a proposed resolution that the PEW Charitable Trusts is requesting the County adopt which encourages congress to create a reliable and predictable stream of resources to address deferred maintenance needs in America’s National Park System. Staff understands through conversations with PEW staff that this request would not require any tax increase but would utilize proceeds generated from off-shore drilling that are currently accumulating. The County Manager provided information regarding the National Park System including the economic impact of the Blue Ridge Parkway and additional stats detailing deferred maintenance of the National Park System.
Chairman Welch stated that he had spoken with the Watauga County Tourism Development Authority (TDA) Executive Director, Mr. Wright Tilley, who indicated that both the Watauga County and Town of Boone TDA’s were in favor of the resolution.
Vice-Chairman Kennedy, seconded by Commissioner Turnbow, moved to adopt the proposed resolution as presented.
B. Boards and Commissions
County Manager Geouque presented the following for consideration:
Watauga County Board of Adjustment
The terms of Bill Ragan, Baxter Palmer and Todd Rice expire in November. All three are willing to continue to serve if reappointed. NC Statutes require a representative (resident) of each zoned area in counties that have partial-county zoning such as Watauga. Mr. Rice represents the Valle Crucis Historic District, which is a small area with limited population, therefore small pool of potential representatives. Mr. Palmer is the alternate member and is the representative of the Foscoe-Grandfather zoned area. Mr. Ragan resides in the Howard Creek Watershed, which is not a zoned area in the traditional sense, but since the watershed ordinance was adopted under zoning authority, the County has attempted to appoint residents of those areas when possible.
The Pond Creek (Beech Mountain) Watershed Ordinance was not adopted under zoning authority as it is not large enough to qualify for partial-county zoning. Adam Rhyne resides in the South Fork New River/Winkler Creek/Middle Fork watershed (the boundaries adjoin and form one larger watershed-regulated area). David Hill and Charles Phillips are at-large members. Those 3 terms are not expiring this year. The new South Fork New River Watershed for the new Boone water intake does not have a representative.
Consideration of the above was tabled.
Watauga County Planning Board
Mr. Ric Mattar’s term on the Planning Board expires in December 2017. The term is a 4 year at-large term. Mr. Mattar currently serves as Chairman and would like to be reappointed.
Commissioner Yates, seconded by Commissioner Turnbow, moved to waive the second reading and reappoint Mr. Ric Mattar as an at-large member of the Watauga County Planning Board for a four-year term.
County Manager Geouque announced that the January 2, 2018, Board meeting has been cancelled and, therefore, the next regular meeting of the Board is Tuesday, January 16, 2018, at 5:30 P.M.
There was no public comment.
At 7:14 P.M., Vice-Chairman Kennedy, seconded by Commissioner Turnbow, moved to enter Closed Session to discuss Attorney/Client Matters, per G. S. 143-318.11(a)(3) and Personnel Matters, per G. S. 143-318.11(a)(6).
Vice-Chairman Kennedy, seconded by Commissioner Turnbow, moved to resume the open meeting at 7:41 P.M.
Vice-Chairman Kennedy, seconded by Commissioner Turnbow, moved to adjourn the meeting at 7:41 P.M.
John Welch, Chairman
Anita J. Fogle, Clerk to the Board