The Watauga County Board of Commissioners held, on Tuesday, April 15, 2003, a regular meeting at 7:00 P.M. in the Commissioners Meeting Room of the Watauga County Courthouse.
                        PRESENT:       James Coffey, Chairman
                                                Jimmy Hodges, Vice-Chairman
                                                David Blust, Commissioner
                                                Keith Honeycutt, Commissioner
                                                Allen Trivette, Commissioner
                                                Rebecca Eggers-Gryder, County Attorney
                                    Robert E. Nelson, Jr., County Manager
                                    Deron Geouque, Assistant County Manager
                                                Anita J. Fogle, Clerk to the Board
            Chairman Coffey called the regular meeting to order at 7:00 P.M. welcoming those in attendance. A moment of silence was observed.
            Chairman Coffey called for additions and/or corrections to the February 28 and March 1, 2003, special meeting minutes.
            Commissioner Honeycutt, seconded by Commissioner Blust, moved to approve the February 28 and March 1, 2003, special meeting minutes as presented.
VOTE:    Aye-5

            Chairman Coffey called for additions or corrections to the April 15, 2003 agenda.
            County Manager Nelson requested to add, after item number seven on the agenda, a request for a public hearing on the County’s Solid Waste Management Plan update and to add a discussion under miscellaneous administrative matters on House Bill 976 which is similar to Senate Bill 277.
            Vice-Chairman Hodges, seconded by Commissioner Honeycutt, moved to approve the April 15, 2003 agenda as amended.
VOTE:    Aye-5
            Mr. Randy Jones stated that two Commissioners had toured the Heilig-Meyers warehouse building since discussion was tabled at the last meeting. Mr. Jones asked if there were any questions regarding his proposal, which was presented at the last meeting. Chairman Coffey asked if Mr. Jones’ fee for architectural design services could be lowered from the 10% presented. Mr. Jones responded that he could accept 9.5%. Mr. Jones stated that the project was scheduled for completion in June of 2004.
            Commissioner Honeycutt, seconded by Commissioner Blust, moved to approve the proposal with the amendment of a 9.5% architectural design services fee and contingent upon the County Attorney’s review.
VOTE:    Aye-5
            Ms. Gail Hawkinson presented a proposed resolution advocating for New River Behavioral Healthcare to continue as a service provider in the five county area. The State wanted all local management entities (NRBHC) to divest themselves of direct services provision. The staff and New River Area Board found it necessary that the Authority offer certain services in order to provide a sufficient support network for those clients in need in Watauga County. Ms. Hawkinson read the proposed resolution.
            Vice-Chairman Hodges, seconded by Commissioner Blust, moved to adopt the Resolution as presented by Ms. Hawkinson.
VOTE:    Aye-5
Sheriff Shook stated that Watauga County was out of compliance on the required staff to prisoner ratio in the County Jail. Current regulations required that a female jailer be on duty at all times when a female prisoner was being housed. Sheriff Shook recommended creating an additional female jailer position at a salary grade 9 with a starting salary of $24,413, to begin immediately. The Sheriff stated that the position was included in his budget request for fiscal year 2004; however, funds were not included for this position in the current budget year. An appropriation, for salary and benefits, to cover the remaining 2½ months of the current Fiscal Year was required.
Vice-Chairman Hodges, seconded by Commissioner Blust, moved to approve the additional position of a female jailer for the Sheriff’s department, at a salary grade 9 with a starting salary of $24,413, to begin immediately with the funds for the remainder of the current fiscal year to come from the fund balance and for the position to be reviewed during the Fiscal Year 2004 budget process.
VOTE:    Aye-5
            Mr. Mark Poteat, Chief of Stewart Simmons Volunteer Fire Department, stated that after years of problems with communications in their area, the previous Board approved $20,000 for the Stewart Simmons Fire Department to locate a site and purchase the required equipment to install a communications tower.
            Lieutenant Jamey Fletcher, Watauga County Sheriff’s Department, reviewed a proposed system for the Stewart Simmon’s Fire Department and the Triplett and Stoney Fork areas. Lieutenant Fletcher requested to award the bid to High Country Communications in the amount of $17,933.49, which was not the lowest bid. High Country Communications was recommended because of their inclusion in the bid of a battery powered backup system and a more substantial housing structure.
            Second was a request for a lease on the land for the tower location for ten years at $2,500.00 per year. The lease would commit the County to an additional $25,000 that was not part of the original offer. Lieutenant Fletcher stated that the site recommended for the location of the tower was adequate but not ideal. There was another site that would be better but was not available.
            Lieutenant Fletcher stated that the site and requested equipment was not part of an integrated plan to upgrade the overall County system and would benefit the areas mentioned above as a “patch” only.
            The Board agreed to table discussion on this matter until the next meeting as Commissioner Honeycutt wanted to determine if the better site was available.
            Assistant County Manager Geouque stated that the County’s Solid Waste Management Plan was adopted in 1997 and must be updated every three years. A public hearing was requested to be set for the May 5, 2003 Board meeting to allow public comment on the current update.
            The public hearing was set for May 5, 2003 at 9:25 A.M.
            A. Discussion of House Bill 976 – County Manager Nelson stated that Representative Brubaker had introduced a companion bill to Senate Bill 277 which would exempt educational property held by a non-profit entity in trust for a public or private university located in North Carolina, from property tax. The House Bill also added Community Colleges and Golf Courses to the exemption status.
            Commissioner Honeycutt, seconded by Commissioner Blust, moved to send a letter of opposition to the counties and towns affected and to all Representatives.
VOTE:    Aye-5
B. Discussion of Special Circumstance Tipping Fee Policy – County Manager Nelson stated that per Commissioner request, time was reserved for discussion of a tipping fee waiver policy for special circumstances such as families who have experienced the loss of their primary dwelling by fire and did not have home owners insurance to cover the expense. The County has not waived the tipping fee for debris created by such occurrences.
The Board directed the County Manager to draft a policy for a special circumstance tipping fee waiver to be presented for the Board’s review at a future meeting.
            B. Discussion of Additional DOT Funding – County Manager Nelson stated that the County received notice from the North Carolina Department of Transportation that the State was appropriating $700,000,000 in additional funds for maintenance modernization and public transportation improvements across the state. The program goal and project selection criteria were presented for review. Planning and Inspections Director, Mr. Joe Furman presented a list of potential local projects for the proposed Moving Ahead! program.
            Board members were asked to make additions/corrections to the presented list and to return them to the County Manager for submission.
            C. Proposed Resolutions for NCACC Insurance Interlocal Agreements – County Manager Nelson stated that Watauga County was a member of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) group benefit pool for the provision of liability, medical, and worker’s compensation insurance coverage. The NCACC required the adoption of Interlocal Agreements by resolution to remain a member of the pools. The County Manager presented the three resolutions.
            Commissioner Blust, seconded by Commissioner Honeycutt, moved to adopt the three Interlocal Agreement Resolutions as presented by the County Manager.
VOTE:    Aye-5
            D. Manager’s Recommended Capital Improvement Plan – County Manager Nelson presented his Recommended Capital Improvement Plan for Fiscal Year 2004 for review. The County Manager stated that the recommended plan may change during the Manager’s preparation of his recommended budget or at the direction of the Board during the budget work sessions prior to the adoption of the balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2004.
            No Board action was required and therefore none was taken.
            E. AnnouncementsCounty Manager Nelson announced upcoming meetings and events.
            Ms. Pam Williamson spoke regarding concerns with the new Hwy 421.
            Commissioner Blust, seconded by Commissioner Honeycutt, moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:18 P.M.
VOTE:    Aye-5
                                                                                                James Coffey, Chairman
Anita J. Fogle, Clerk to the Board