The Watauga County Board of Commissioners held a special meeting on Monday, August 23, 1999 at 7:00 P.M. in the Board Room of the Watauga County Courthouse.


PRESENT: Jimmy Hodges, Chairman

Sue Sweeting, Vice-Chairman

James Coffey, Commissioner

Art Kohles, Commissioner

Jack Lawrence, Sr., Commissioner

Jeff Hedrick, County Attorney

Barry J. Reed, County Manager

Libby Link, Clerk to the Board


Chairman Hodges called the meeting to order at 7:03 P.M. welcoming those in attendance. He stated the purpose of the meeting was to discuss renovations and possible construction for the Health Department and amendments to the Ambulance Franchise Ordinance.

Chairman Hodges asked County Manager Reed to proceed.


County Manager Reed stated that discussion had occurred at the Board’s last regular meeting (August 17, 1999) regarding renovations at the Health Department. He added that Finance Director, Doris Isaacs, had prepared additional information for the Board’s review and asked Ms. Isaacs to address the Board.


Finance Director, Doris Isaacs, reviewed the pros and cons of renovating the existing Health Department versus building a new facility. She discussed the additional financing that would be needed to construct a new building and presented amortization schedules which indicated what the County’s payments would be over a 10 year term based on a 4.9% interest rate. Ms. Isaacs also presented a memo recapping what the debt service was for the renovation project (total construction cost of $2,100,000) as well as the total cost for constructing a new building ($4,100,000). She added the following factors for the Board’s consideration: the County had good annual tax base growth which generated additional revenue, revaluation was scheduled to take effect January 1, 2002 and the hospital debt service would be satisfied June 30, 2003 (average annual debt service payments were approximately $311,000).


Maintenance Supervisor, Robert Marsh, discussed the renovations that were required at the existing Health Department location and stated these renovations were necessary whether the County stayed at the present location or built a new facility. He added his estimation for these "band aid" renovations would be $47,000, and the Maintenance Department staff would do the renovations. Discussion occurred about constructing a new facility possibly on County owned property adjacent to the Human Services Building. County Manager Reed stated a feasibility study would be done for a new facility and that architects would be contacted for this purpose.


Following discussion, Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Kohles, moved to designate up to $50,000 for renovations at the present Health Department building and instructed staff to investigate construction of a new facility at the Human Services Building site.


VOTE: Aye-5


Chairman Hodges turned the meeting over to County Manager Reed for discussion on the County’s Ambulance Ordinance. County Manager Reed suggested the Board review the Ordinance from the beginning. In addition, he stated he had reviewed the Ordinance and provided the Board with a new Ordinance with his recommended changes. The Board reviewed the amended Ordinance, made suggestions (and/or changes) and asked for and received input from the following citizens: Jeff Corbett, Director of Marketing & Community Relations with NuCare Carolina Ambulance & Medical Transportation, Randy Collins with the Watauga Rescue Squad, Steve Lapoint, Jeff Corbett, Robert Houck, Craig Sullivan and Bill Marvin (resque squad members and Watauga EMS personnel), Pam Williamson, John Kelley, James Wilcox and Stella Anderson.

The Board discussed if the Ordinance should require the franchisee to have a certified independent audit which would indicate how the County’s subsidy was spent. Following discussion, Vice-Chairman Sweeting asked County Manager Reed to discuss this matter with the County’s Auditor, Bryce Holder (Holder, Copeland & Associates). In addition, since the County was considering the option of a County operated ambulance service, Vice-Chairman Sweeting suggested advertising for a potential Director of Emergency Services in order to see if there was any interest in this position rather than waiting until it was decided if the County would run an ambulance service. Commissioners Coffey and Lawrence voiced their concerns that the Board needed to know what the costs of operating an ambulance service would be for the County before placing an advertisement for a person to oversee the service.


Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Kohles, moved to advertise for a County Director of Emergency Services.


Following further discussion, the following vote was made on Vice-Chairman Sweeting’s motion.

VOTE: Aye-3 (Hodges, Kohles, Sweeting)

Nay-2 (Coffey, Lawrence)


County Attorney Hedrick stated he was asked by the Board to do a report which he could present at this time or at a later date (to be held in closed session).


Commissioner Kohles seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to enter closed session at 9:18 P.M. to discuss: Attorney/Client Matters, Ambulance Service – G.S. 143-318.11(a)(3).

VOTE: Aye-5



Following a brief recess, the Board entered closed session at 9:32 P.M.


Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Kohles, moved to resume the regular meeting at 10:29 P.M.


VOTE: Aye-5



Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to adjourn the meeting at 10:30 P.M.


VOTE: Aye-5






Jimmy Hodges








Elizabeth H. Link

Clerk to the Board