The Watauga County Board of Commissioners held a regular meeting on Tuesday, February 19, 2002 at 7:00 P.M. in the Board Room of the Watauga County Courthouse.
                        PRESENT:       Jimmy Hodges, Chairman
James Coffey, Vice-Chairman
Jack Lawrence, Sr., Commissioner
                                                Sue Sweeting, Commissioner
                                                Pat Wilkie, Commissioner
                                                Jeff Hedrick, County Attorney
                                    Robert E. Nelson, Jr., County Manager
                                                Darcy Moore, Substitute Clerk to the Board
            Chairman Hodges called the meeting to order at 7:01 P.M., welcoming those in attendance.
            A moment of silence was observed.
            Chairman Hodges called for additions or corrections to the February 4, 2002 regular meeting minutes.
            Chairman Sweeting, seconded by Vice-Chairman Coffey, moved to approve the February 4, 2002 regular meeting minutes as presented.
VOTE: Aye-4
Chairman Hodges abstained due to absence from the February 4, 2002 regular meeting.
            Chairman Hodges called for additions or corrections to the February 19, 2002 agenda.
            Commissioner Wilkie, seconded by Commissioner Sweeting, moved to approve the February 19, 2002 agenda as presented.
VOTE: Aye-5
            Clerks Note:(The following changes to the Agenda package were made by Commissioner Sweeting during the meeting.)
663991-399101                       Fund Balance Approp.-New                                        $26,131
To Correction:
663991-399101                       Fund Balance Approp.-New                                        $26,132
Boards and Commissions
Watauga County Council on the Status of Women wished to nominate Ms. Pilar Moore
To Correction:
Watauga County Council on the Status of Women wished to nominate Ms. Pilar Mohr
            Chairman Hodges declared the public hearing open at 7:05 P.M. to discuss the Recommended Thoroughfare Plan.
Ms. Lydia McKoy, engineer with the Statewide Planning Branch of NCDOT presented a brief overview and explanation of the intent of the Recommended Thoroughfare Project and answered questions from the public and Board.
Chairman Hodges asked that Ms. McKoy explain the process of developing Thorough Plan recommendations and how environmental issues would be considered.
Ms. McKoy explained that the process of developing and evaluating thoroughfare plan recommendations involves many considerations, including the goals and objectives of the area, identified roadway deficiencies, environmental impacts, existing and anticipated land development and travel services.
The following individuals addressed the Board with questions, concerns and suggestions regarding the proposed recommended Thoroughfare Plan:
Ms. Ruth Ann Rizzo, Ms. Regina Hartzell, Mr. Terry Reigel, Mr. Tom Eshelman, Mr. Henry Yates, Ms. Susan Hazelwood, Ms. Teresa Geer, Mr. Ricky Davis, Mr. Jeffrey Scott and Ms. Debra Greene.
Commissioner Sweeting asked Ms. McKoy if the Board’s approval of the proposed plan would mean that the project could proceed before an environmental study was completed.
Ms. McKoy explained that Board approval wouldn’t necessarily mean the road improvements would be completed as recommended. Approval of the plan would demonstrate the Board’s recognition that there is a need for improvement on the recommended thoroughfares.
Vice Chairman Coffey noted that postponing approval of the Thoroughfare Plan could delay, by years, consideration by NCDOT for improvement of recommended thoroughfares in Watauga County.
There being no further discussion, Chairman Hodges declared the public hearing closed at 7:55 P.M.
            Commissioner Lawrence, seconded by Commissioner Sweeting moved to approve the Thoroughfare Plan as recommended.
                                                            VOTE: Aye-5
            Mr. Robert Marsh, Maintenance Director, discussed the Architect selection search for the Helig Meyer Warehouse Renovation Project. Mr. Marsh informed the Board that he had requested proposals for the renovation project from five local firms, and received responses from two, David R. Jones Architecture and Appalachian Architecture. Mr. Marsh reported to the Board that he and County Manager Nelson reviewed the proposals and interviewed representatives from both firms. Mr. Marsh commented that although both firms appeared to be highly qualified, after consideration he and the County Manager wished to recommend David R. Jones Architecture for the Helig Meyers Warehouse Renovation project.
            Commissioner Wilkie commented that although she felt that David R. Jones Architecture had done very good work on prior County projects, she would like to see the County “spread out services that we use.”
            Commissioner Wilkie, seconded by Commissioner Sweeting moved that the Board approve Appalachian Architecture to provide services for renovation of the Helig Meyer Warehouse. 
                                                             VOTE: Aye – 2(Sweeting, Wilkie)
                                                                         Nay – 3(Hodges, Coffey, Lawrence)
            Commissioner Sweeting voiced her concerns that the County may appear to be displaying partiality if the renovation project were to be awarded to an Architect who has provided previous services to the County.
            Chairman Hodges asked Mr. Randy Jones of David R. Jones Architecture and Mr. Bill Dixon of Appalachian Architecture to present a short explanation of their proposed renovation plans to the Board.
            Following discussion, Vice-Chairman Coffey, seconded by Commissioner Lawrence moved that the contract for the Helig Meyer Warehouse Renovation Project be awarded to David R. Jones Architecture as recommended.
                                                             VOTE: Aye-3(Hodges, Coffey, Lawrence)
 Nay-2(Sweeting, Wilkie)
            Mr. J.V. Potter, Operation Services Director, reported that he advertised for bids on the sale of the Sanitation Department’s 1990 Volvo front-loading trash truck. The County Disposal Company submitted the only bid of $10,001. Mr. Potter recommended that the Board accept the County Disposal’s bid and authorize the Sanitation Department to proceed.
Commissioner Lawrence, seconded by Commissioner Sweeting moved to accept the bid as recommended.
VOTE: Aye-5 
Finance Director, Ms. Doris Isaacs, presented the following budget amendments for Board approval:
Account #                                Description                                         Debit               Credit
669100-473066                       Principal-2002 Freightliner                    $23,366
669100-474066                       Interest-2002 Freightliner                      $ 2,766
663991-399101                       Fund Balance Approp.-New                                        $26,132
Budget amendment to appropriate funds for Solid waste Refuse truck debt service payments.
Account #                                Description                                         Debit               Credit
133593-359003                       PSFF-Cove Creek Boiler                                             $110,000
133593-359004                       PSFF-WHS Boiler                                                       $419,296
135912-459002                       Cap.Outlay-WHS Boiler                      $419,296
135912-459003                       Cap.Outlay-Cove Creek Boiler            $110,000
To recognize Public School Facilities Funds approved for boiler improvements at WHS and Cove Creek.
            Commission Coffey, seconded by Commissioner Wilkie moved to approve the budget amendments as presented.
VOTE: Aye-5
Ms. Doris Isaacs, Finance Director, reviewed a proposal from Holder Copeland and Associates, P.A. to provide audit services to the County for the next three years, ending June 30, 2004. Ms. Isaacs explained that the current contract expired with the completion of the June 30, 2001 audit. Due to changes in the requirements of the Government Account Standards Board Statement 34(GASB34) an unknown amount of additional time will be required for future audit work. Due to this unknown and the excellent history the County has had with Holder, Copeland and Associates, Ms. Isaacs requested that the Board waive the locally adopted bid requirement for the audit process and recommended Holder, Copeland and Associates be retained to continue audit services. 
Commissioner Sweeting asked Ms. Isaacs if any other local accountants might be interested in the contract. Ms. Isaacs responded that during the last Request For Proposals, bid packets were sent to all local governmental auditors and that Holder and Copeland and Associates was the only local accountant firm that responded with a bid. 
Vice Chairman Coffey, seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to award the contract to Holder, Copeland and Associates as recommended. 
 VOTE: Aye-4(Hodges, Coffey, Lawrence, Wilkie)

            County Manager Robert Nelson discussed the budget cut by the State of North Carolina, estimating that such cuts may result in over $1,000,000 reduction in the County’s revenues. County Manager Nelson stated that the shortage amount of $1,024,000 is approximately 4% of the fiscal year 2002 General Fund Budget. 
Due to the uncertainty of the economic situation, County Manager Nelson informed the Board that he has frozen all non-mandated out of County travel and nonessential purchases for County Departments. To further alleviate budget shortfalls, Manager Nelson suggests a 4% cut in the 3rd and 4th quarter allocations to non-county departments and agencies. The cut would be for 4 months for those receiving monthly allocations; i.e. Library, Appalachian District Health Department, and the School Board.
            The annualized net cut would be 2% for those receiving quarterly allocations and 1.33% for those receiving monthly. These cuts, if approved, would result in $122,540 of savings. Manager Nelson elaborated that he did not suggest cuts for Fire and Rescue Departments.  
            Following discussion, the Board agreed by consensus to request County Manager Nelson to implement a County wide hiring freeze and allow David R. Jones Architecture to proceed with preliminary assessment of the Helig Meyer Warehouse restoration project, postponing the bidding/construction phase pending further consideration during the FY 2002-03 budget year. Allocations to non-county agencies, boards, and departments were not reduced.
A.                 Discussion of Retreat Agenda - County Manager Nelson briefly discussed the topics on the pre-budget tentative retreat agenda scheduled for Friday, March 1, 2002 at 6:00 P.M. and Saturday, March 2, 2002 at 8:30 A.M. at the Human Services Building in Boone.
B.         Boards and Commissions – County Manager Nelson informed the Board that Watauga County Advisory Committee wished to nominate Mr. George Miles for reappointment for a 3-year term.
County Manager Nelson also reported that the Watauga County Council on the Status of Women wished to nominate Ms. Pilar Mohr and Ms. Barbara Kennedy to replace the un-expired terms of Ms. Gail Hawkinson and Ms. Lisa Shelton upon their resignations.
This being the first notice to the Board, no action was required.
            D. Announcements – County Manager Nelson announced that Mr. Lyndo Tippett, Secretary of North Carolina Department of Transportation, would be in Boone, February 19, 2002 at 2:00 P.M. at the Region D Board Room to formally announce the formation of the Rural Transportation Planning Organization for the Region D counties to be known as High Country RPO.
            In addition, County Manager Nelson stated the NC Cooperative Extension Service would host its annual Report to the People Luncheon on Monday, March 4, 2002 at 12:00 P.M. in the NC Cooperative Extension Service Conference room.
            Ms. Susie Winters submitted photographs and addressed the Board with her concerns over the new location of an excavation business in Deep Gap and the safety hazard it may create due to it’s position on US Highway 421. She also voiced distress over the impact that the construction sight may have on the environment and adjoining property values.
            Ms. Edith Owens and Mr. James Ward of Hopewell Church Road came before the Board to voice their objection to conditions of a neighboring property. Ms. Owens presented photographs and Mr. Ward offered a videotape to exhibit the conditions of the property in question. 
            Mr. Dale Hayes spoke about Federal subsidies to North Carolina farmers.
            Ms. Debra Green addressed the Board with concerns over distribution of Green Leaf Funds as administered by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension.
            Commissioner Lawrence, seconded by Vice Chairman Coffey moved that the meeting be adjourned at 9:25 P.M.
                                                                                                Jimmy Hodges, Chairman
Darcy Moore, Substitute Clerk to the Board