WATAUGA COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
TUESDAY, MARCH 17, 1998
The Watauga County Board of Commissioners held a regular meeting on Tuesday, March 17, 1998 at 7:00 P.M. in the Board Room of the Watauga County Courthouse.
PRESENT: James Coffey, Chairman
Jack D. Lawrence, Sr., Vice-Chairman
Linda S. Craig, Commissioner
Jimmy Hodges, Commissioner
Stacy C. Eggers, Jr., County Attorney
James S. Ratchford, County Manager
Libby Link, Clerk to the Board
Chairman Coffey called the meeting to order at 7:02 P.M. welcoming those in attendance.
A moment of silence was observed.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Chairman Coffey called for additions or corrections to the March 2, 1998 regular minutes; there being none, they were approved as presented.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Chairman Coffey called for additions or corrections to the March 17, 1998 agenda.
County Manager Ratchford noted that Social Services Director, Jim Atkinson, had an additional item that he needed to present to the Board. It was agreed to add this item to the Agenda under Item 6 (Work First Plan Revisions).
Vice-Chairman Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Craig moved approve the agenda for the March 17, 1998 regular meeting with the amendment.
PUBLIC HEARING – COUNTY GOVERNMENT
HELICON CABLE RATES
Chairman Coffey opened a Public Hearing at 7:07 P.M. in response to Helicon Corporation’s increase in their cable TV subscription rates.
Veterans Service Officer/Safety Director, Jim Harmon, stated the Board had received notice of what Helicon’s rates were last year and what the proposed rates were. He added that the County was not allowed to regulate rates. Mr. Harmon noted the public hearing would satisfy the County’s ordinance, which stated a public hearing was required. Mr. Tony Barlage, Helicon Director, addressed the Board and stated that Helicon’s intent was to move forward in providing service to residents in Watauga County. He explained that this increase was a result of new channel additions, as well as increased operating and capital costs. The Board voiced concerns about raising rates for people on fixed incomes (who sacrificed to have cable) and requested Helicon give consideration to these people when raising rates. Mr. Barlage assured the Board that Helicon would keep rates as low as possible.
Ms. Bricca Sweet, a resident of the Cove Creek community, voiced concerns that no cable service was provided in that part of the County. She added that several residents from that area had signed petitions that urged Helicon to provide cable service for the Cove Creek community as well as the entire County.
Ms. Vicki Hurley also addressed the Board about her concerns with the new channel additions. Ms. Hurley added that she had no problems with Helicon’s service but did not approve of the rate increase. The Board noted they did not have the authority to control what channels were provided nor the regulation of rates. Mr. Barlage stated a tally had been conducted with customers, and the channels that were added were the most popular.
There being no additional comments from the general public, Chairman Coffey declared the public hearing closed at 7:20 P.M.
PUBLIC HEARING-COUNTY GOVERNMENT
SUBDIVISION ORDINANCE AMENDMENTS
Chairman Coffey opened a public hearing at 7:20 P.M. to review the Subdivision Ordinance Amendments.
Planning & Inspections Director, Joe Furman, addressed the Board for adoption of the Subdivision Ordinance Amendments. The amendments had been presented to the Board at the last regular meeting on March 2, 1998 and had been approved by the Planning Board. Mr. Furman stated there were approximately 30 minor changes to the ordinance. He added one significant change was to increase the number of lots that could be served by one driveway (from two to three) and to limit the grade on driveways to multiple lots to 18%.
Mr. Leo Mast and Mr. David Lassiter from the Cove Creek community addressed the Board and voiced concerns that adjoining residents needed to be notified of impending plan approvals for subdivisions. Mr. Furman explained that under N.C. general statutes subdivision proposals did not require public notices. Mr. Furman stated he would be glad to bring this issue before the Planning Board but requested the Board adopt the new subdivision ordinance without delay noting the ordinance could be amended in the future.
There being no additional comments from the public, Chairman Coffey declared the public hearing closed at 7:40 P.M.
Commissioner Craig seconded by Commissioner Hodges, moved to approve the Subdivision Ordinance amendments and requested the Planning Board review notification to adjacent property owners of proposed subdivisions.
ORDINANCE BOOK #______, PAGE #______
WORK FIRST PLAN REVISIONS
Social Services Director, Jim Atkinson, presented revisions to the County’s Work First Plan. Mr. Atkinson stated he received notification from the State on March 5, 1998 with recommended revisions, and these revisions had to be submitted to the State by March 9, 1998. The short "turn around" was because the State’s Work First Plan (which would be comprised of all of the County’s Work First Plans) had to allow for a 45-day comment period to be presented to the legislature on May 15, 1998. He noted the DSS Board would review these revisions at the next meeting scheduled for March 23, 1998.
Vice-Chairman Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Craig, moved to approve the Work First Plan revisions as presented.
Mr. Atkinson noted that there was a blind lady in a rest home who received Special Assistance (SA) in the amount of $450/month and was a Medicaid recipient. He explained that this individual was prescribed medication that Medicaid would not pay. Mr. Atkinson recommended the Board approve the State’s proposed increase in this person’s SA payment from $450/month to $460/month to allow for this medication.
Vice-Chairman Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Craig, moved to approve this recommendation.
WHS ATHLETIC PROJECT
A. Lighting Bids – Parks & Recreation Director, Deb Wynne, received three bids for the Watauga High School Athletic Complex’s lighting project. Ms. Wynne stated this project included lighting six tennis courts, one softball field and one soccer field. She stated the School Board and Boney Architects had approved the Electrics of Asheville proposal. She added $250,000 was received in May 1997 from the Parks & Recreation Trust Fund. The three bids received were:
Besco Electric Corporation $279,069
Pike Electric, Inc. $265,000
Electrics of Asheville $220,000
After negotiations with the low bidder, Electrics of Asheville, total deductions were $32,814, and the total contract price with deductions was $187,186.
Ms. Wynne recommended the Board accept the Electrics of Asheville bid and add a $5,000 contingency fee to cover any unanticipated expenses.
Vice-Chairman Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Craig, moved to approve the Electrics of Asheville bid of $187,186 and the $5,000 contingency fee.
B. Joint Use Agreement – Ms. Wynne presented a Joint Use Agreement for the new Watauga High School Athletic Complex. This Agreement was required by the N.C. Parks & Recreation Trust Fund which granted $250,000 for the Watauga Athletic Complex. She stated that input was received from County Attorney Eggers, County Manager Ratchford, and the Board of Education to ensure all needs would be met. Once the Board approved this contract, Ms. Wynne would submit it to the Board of Education for approval. The Board voiced concerns that the agreement did not include all the outdoor athletic facilities at the High School. Ms. Wynne stated the Board could make changes to the plan before presentation to the Board of Education.
After discussion, Commissioner Hodges seconded by Vice-Chairman Lawrence, moved to adopt the Joint Use Agreement after amendment to include the baseball and football fields.
C. Board Appointment – Chairman Coffey noted the following board member term had expired: Jim Boone, Watauga County Parks & Recreation Commission. Two names were submitted from Valle Crucis Elementary School: Brenda and Fay Binning.
Vice-Chairman Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Craig, moved to appoint Brenda Binning to the Watauga County Parks & Recreation Commission.
AGRICULTURAL CENTER ADDITION CHANGE ORDERS
Architect, Bill Dixon, addressed the Board with change orders (requested from General Contractor, Hunter Construction, Inc.) which amounted to $12,581.03 on the Agricultural Center addition. Mr. Dixon explained this expense was due to unexpected excavation and fill work due to poor soil conditions discovered after the project had begun. He added that when the building was renovated years ago, the backfill was not done properly and had to be corrected.
After discussion, Vice-Chairman Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Hodges, moved to approve the change order as presented.
SESQUICENTENNIAL BUDGET PROPOSAL
County Manager Ratchford stated that at the Board’s previous regular meeting on March 2, 1998 that a special committee was discussed to coordinate volunteers and activities for the sesquicentennial celebration in 1999. Mr. Ratchford added that Finance Director, Doris Isaacs, had worked with Ms. Lynn Cone to prepare a budget for the remainder of this fiscal year ($2,435). The budget was presented to the Board with detailed items and estimated expenditures. Mr. Ratchford introduced Ms. Lynn Cone to the Board to discuss proposed activities.
Ms. Cone addressed the Board and stated this would be a nice time to celebrate current events and events that would happen in the future. Ms. Cone noted she had coordinated other special events and was a former Watauga County employee (employed at Parks & Recreation for seven years) and knew the logistics of the area. She presented a list of possible activities and events that was compiled after receiving input from other counties and cities who recently had celebrated birthdays. Ms. Cone noted that she would coordinate activities with ASU, the Town of Boone and the Chamber of Commerce to ensure no activities would coincide with other celebrations. There would be representation from all the communities in the County, and she would work with volunteers.
After discussion, Commissioner Craig seconded by Vice-Chairman Lawrence, moved to approve the budget as presented for the remainder of this fiscal year and contract with Lynn Cone to coordinate activities for the County.
MISCELLANEOUS ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS
Budget Amendment – County Manager Ratchford presented the following budget amendment for Board approval:
Account # Description Debit Credit
143537-353700 Program Integrity Grant 25,000
145370-412100 Salaries-Regular 6,850
145370-418100 Social Security Cont. 548
145370-418200 Retirement Cont. 343
145370-418300 Hospital Ins. Expense 500
145370-418500 Unemployment Expense 69
145370-418600 Worker’s Compensation 0
145370-418900 Deferred Compensation 137
145370-426000 Office Supplies 500
145370-431100 Travel – Mileage 300
145370-431200 Travel – Subsistence 433
145370-439500 Employee Training 300
145370-449900 Misc.-Office Conversion 500
145370-451000 Capital Outlay-Equip. 3,300
145370-452000 Capital Outlay-Computer 3,000
145370-469101 Prof. Services – Legal 1,220
145370-499100 Program Contingency 7,000
To recognize state funds received for Program Integrity (fraud). These funds will be used to hire an additional person in the Department of Social Services and provide office space, equipment, and training. Surplus funds must be carried over to FY 98-99 to be expended for Program Integrity purposes. Approved by BCC 01-05-98.
Commissioner Craig seconded by Vice-Chairman Lawrence, moved to approve the above budget amendment as presented.
Announcements - County Manager Ratchford reminded the Board of the Special Meeting scheduled for April 7 at 7:00 P.M. for the N.C. Department of Transportation FY 98/99 secondary roads program.
Mr. Ratchford notified the Board of a ribbon cutting at the Caldwell Community College’s new building scheduled for April 9 at noon on the site.
Mr. Ratchford also notified the Board of the WAMY Community Block Grant proposal that he had for the Board’s review and comments.
Ambulance Service Issues – County Manager Ratchford stated there had been some questions about the ambulance service contract with Watauga Ambulance Service, Inc., and he provided the Board with some information relative to the contract. The information included a copy of the Ambulance Service’s current contract, an EMS Survey provided by Region D listing comparative information on Region D counties, information from selective counties outside the Region D area similar in size to Watauga County, and a chart of licensed ambulance services by category provided by N.C. Office of EMS. Mr. Ratchford stated if the Board would like additional information, staff would comply as needed.
The Board stated their concerns about issues that had been raised (in the media) regarding the ambulance service contract. They noted that positive comments had been received from the community regarding Tim Wilson, Watauga Ambulance Service Director, and the services provided. Each Board member voiced their concerns about the concerns which had been raised and pledged to provide the best medical service possible for County residents.
Chairman Coffey stated the Board would study the information that had been provided.
Vice-Chairman Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Craig, moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:50 P.M.
Elizabeth H. Link
Clerk to the Board
WATAUGA COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
SPECIAL MEETING, TUESDAY, MARCH 17, 1998
The Watauga County Board of Commissioners held a capital projects planning work session on Tuesday, March 17, 1998 at 5:00 p.m. in the Administrative Conference Room, Watauga County Courthouse. Those present were: Chairman Coffey, Vice-Chairman Lawrence, Commissioner Craig, Commissioner Hodges, County Manager Ratchford, Assistant County Manager/OSD Bob Frye and members of the press. Commissioner Wellborn was unable to attend.
County Manager Ratchford reviewed the current status of the County’s major building projects in progress as well as those proposed over the next several years. These included the Health Department Renovation, Agricultural Services Center Expansion, Watauga High School Athletic Facility, Public School Facilities, CCC&TI Campus – 2nd Building, Computer System Upgrades, Register of Deeds Computer Upgrade, Solid Waste Projects, Courthouse Complex Parking/Building Needs, County Detention Center, Rock Building Renovation, and Parks & Recreation Facilities.
Mr. Ratchford introduced Architect, Mr. Randy Jones, and asked Mr. Jones to review the proposed plans for the Rock Building renovation (the bottom floor and a portion of the top floor, which had been vacated by the County Library and included approximately 14,000 square feet). Mr. Jones reviewed the plans as well as the cost estimate.
After discussion, Vice-Chairman Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Hodges, moved to employ Randy R. Jones Architecture to proceed with preparing the bid package for the Rock Building renovation.
The commissioners and staff discussed the possibility of extending the lease on the Appalachian Enterprise Center for two years on the end of the current term and agreed that a final decision would be made at budget time.
It was the consensus of the Board to adjourn at 6:50 p.m. in order to begin the regular meeting scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
James S. Ratchford