The Watauga County Board of Commissioners attended a special meeting on Monday, March 5, 2012, in the 5th Floor Lobby of the Appalachian Athletic Center on the campus of Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.  The Intergovernmental Retreat agenda included presentations focused on Local Government Finance, the Watauga County Comprehensive Transportation Plan, and Coordinated Dispatch Services.  Those present were:  Chairman Miller, Vice-Chairman Gable, Commissioner Deal, County Manager Geouque, and Clerk to the Board Fogle.  Others present were as follows:


·        Appalachian State University Representatives:  Gunther Doerr, Jill Ehnenn, Lauren Estes, Greg Lovins, Susan McCracken, Seth Norris, and Cathy Ziegler.

·        Town of Beech Mountain Representatives:  Jennifer Broderick, Randy Feierabend, Alan Holcombe, and Rick Miller.

·        Town of Blowing Rock Representatives:  Eric Brown, Sharon Greene, Scott Hildebran, Thomas Klutz, Dan Phillips, Kevin Rothrock, Jim Steele, and Albert Yount.

·        Town of Boone Representatives:  Rennie Brantz, Blake Brown, Kim Brown, Loretta Clawson, Dana Crawford, Amy Davis, Jimmy Isaacs, Lynne Mason, Allan Scherlen, and Greg Young.

·        Town of Seven Devils Representatives:  David Ehmig, Ed Evans, Larry Fontaine, and Brad Lambert.

·        High Country Council of Governments Representatives:  Craig Hughes and Phil Trew.

·        Others:  Virginia Gable, wife of Vice-Chairman Gable, Madeleine Henley, NC League of Municipalities, and Anna Oakes, High Country Press.


Mr. Phil Trew, High Country Council of Governments, called the joint meeting to order at 5:05 P.M. by welcoming everyone and calling for introductions.


After dinner was served, Mr. Trew introduced Ms. Madeleine Henley with the NC League of Municipalities who discussed projected revenue and expenditure items for local governments.  The main points of Ms. Henley’s presentation included the following:


Local Government Expenditures and Revenues

  • State income tax collections are ahead of projections.
  • Compared to taxable sales in 2008, sales were down $13 billion in 2010 and $10 billion in 2011.
  • Sales are rebounding except in construction-related activities.
  • County vehicle taxes are now tied to registration renewal, so collections should be 100% (compared to 85% in the past).
  • Final sales tax projections should be received by Towns by the end of March.
  • Workers Compensation – a combination of reduction in employment and steady claims was likely to result in raise in rates.
  • In 2014, provisions of the Affordable Healthcare Act will begin requiring employers with less than 50 employees to begin contributing to employee health insurance.

Mr. Trew introduced Mr. Craig Hughes with the High Country Council of Governments who gave an update on the Watauga County Comprehensive Transportation Plan process.  The main points of Mr. Hughes presentation included the following:


Watauga County Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP)

  • Work on the CTP began in September 2010.
  • Goals and objectives have been developed and were approved by local governments in November 2011.
  • Population and employment growth projections have been developed and were approved by local governments in November 2011.
  • Watauga County’s population is expected to grow from 51,000 in 2010 to 81,000 in 2040.
  • Bicycle, pedestrian, and transit elements of the CTP have been developed.
  • Recent meetings have focused on highway deficiencies and recommended alternatives to alleviate deficiencies.
  • Recommendations discussed to date have all come from previous planning documents (previous transportation plans, and comprehensive plans from Watauga County and the Towns).
  • Once recommendations are made, public workshops will be held.
  • Once the draft CTP is developed, it will be presented to local governments for adoption.


Mr. Trew called upon Watauga County Vice-Chairman Gable and Watauga County Manager Deron Geouque to give an update on efforts to consolidate dispatching within the County.  The main points of their presentation included the following:


Consolidated Dispatch

  • The US Department of Homeland Security and State 911 Board encourages consolidated dispatch.
  • Watauga County desires to have a consolidated dispatch system in operation under the direction of the County Manager via a newly organized County Department by July 1, 2012.
  • The Town of Blowing Rock has adopted a resolution of interest to consolidate with Watauga County.
  • The Town of Seven Devils is currently dispatched through the County’s Sheriff’s Office.
  • The Town of Beech Mountain is currently dispatched through Avery County and serves as a back-up system for Watauga County.
  • Appalachian State University is not an E911 center and, therefore, all of their emergency calls are currently routed through the Town of Boone’s Police Department.
  • The proposed budget for a consolidated dispatch system was based on a split between the local governments based on the portion of 911 calls originating in each jurisdiction (County-46%, Boone-38%, Blowing Rock-16%).
  • Watauga County currently has adequate, existing hardware for the operation of a consolidated dispatch system.
  • Open discussion was held regarding consolidated dispatch services.


Mr. Trew stated that the date and time for the next Intergovernmental Retreat would be announced when scheduled.


The meeting was adjourned at 6:44 P.M.


Nathan A. Miller, Chairman



Anita J. Fogle, Clerk to the Board