FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2002
On Friday, February 1, 2002, at 8:00 AM, the Alexander County Board of Commissioners began the 2002 Annual Retreat in the Hiddenite Room at the Hidden Crystal Inn in Hiddenite, North Carolina.
Jennifer Herman, Budget Officer, and Rick French, County Manager, gave a financial update for Alexander County. The following information was presented:
Solid Waste Fund
Six Month Reviews and Projections
New Reporting Statements
Grants and Loans
The Board thanked Ms. Herman, Mr. French, and the Finance staff for their hard work and dedication.
Several department heads and county staff gave reports on county projects. The following information was discussed and photos of each project were viewed:
The Board commended Commissioner Watts for his work with the hospital.
Dusty Ridge Park
July 4th Celebration
Social Services/ESC Project
History Book Project
Public Safety Council
Little River/Three Forks Water Project
Water Task Force
Greg Cronk, Information Technology Director, briefly discussed the new Geographical Information System (GIS) and explained that the new system allows residents to access information about land parcels over the Internet. The new GIS system will be up and running on Monday, February 4, 2002. Mr. Cronk introduced Steve Libera, WPCOG GIS Analyst, who presented a Power Point Presentation which included the following information:
Parcel Maintenance allows you to:
Commissioner Watts asked if the new GIS system would show an overlay of water lines over a 100-acre tract. Mr. Libera stated that the GIS system did not include that feature yet.
Several inquired about the public requests for custom mapping. Mr. Libera stated that citizens could request custom mapping and the information would be free but there would be an hourly charge to transfer and print the custom maps.
Commissioner Robertson asked how long it would take to update the GIS system for revaluation. Mr. Libera stated that the GIS system was already updated and would reflect the new values on Monday.
Commissioner Watts inquired about fly-over photographs viewed on the GIS system. Mr. Cronk stated that the latest fly-over photos were taken in 1999 and that more would be taken during the next revaluation cycle.
Mr. Cronk discussed the current contract with the WPCOG for GIS and stated that the current contract cost was $50,600. Mr. Cronk stated that the Board had an option to continue the contract for the next year for a higher cost of approximately $60,000 or hire a full-time GIS analyst to run the system in-house.
Commissioner Robertson instructed Rick French, County Manager, to research the issue and analyze a comparison to determine the best solution.
Luther Stocks, Tax Administrator, gave an update on the revaluation process and presented a Power Point Presentation. Mr. Stocks noted that the revaluation project was complete and that there was an overall value increase of around 50%. Notices will be sent out in mid February.
The Power Point Presentation included the following information:
Mr. Greene presented the following numbers for the fire departments:
Before lunch, Chairman Harbinson honored Rick French, County Manager, with a custom made portrait of his two sons, Hunter and Parker, paid for by the Board. Chairman Harbinson also gave Mr. French one of the shovels used at the Alexander Correctional Institute groundbreaking ceremony. Chairman Harbinson thanked Mr. French for his hard work on so many projects and for his dedication to the employees and citizens of Alexander County.
Ed Regan, NC Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) Deputy Director, gave an update on several state issues. The report included the following information:
Emergency 911 Funds
Commissioner Watts stated his disappointment in being labeled as a Tier 5 county.
Nolan Jarvis, EMS Director, gave an update on several issues affecting Emergency Medical Services. Those items included the following:
Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Team
New EMS Regulations
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT UPDATE
Keith Hertzler, EDC/Chamber of Commerce Director, gave an update on the following information:
Recap of 2001
Trip to Germany and France
Commissioner Hammer suggested putting some agricultural photos in the presentation.
Where to go From Here
SOCIAL SERVICES UPDATE
Nan Campbell, Director of Social Services, gave an update on the Alexander County Department of Social Services. Ms. Campbell presented a Power Point Presentation on the 2000-2001 highlights which included the following:
Major issues affecting DSS locally across the state:
Ms. Campbell discussed Medicaid costs and informed the Board that DSS determined eligibility for Medicaid based on income and reserve for all groups except SSI recipients. Ms. Campbell stated that there had been an increase in applicants (70,000 more) due to people being laid off and not being eligible for COBRA. Ms. Campbell also stated that there was a 20% increase in Medicaid for this year and next year. Alexander County has 3,900 people eligible for Medicaid.
Ms. Campbell stated that food stamp cases had increased to a total of 700 and noted that a $20,000 grant had been applied for from Federal Emergency Management Assistance to assist the unemployed.
Ms. Campbell stated DSS was working to improve services for the minority populations. Ms. Campbell also stated that DSS served many from the Latino and Hmong minority population. The Board inquired about interpreters. Ms. Campbell stated that interpreters are brought in from out of county when needed and were paid wages and travel. Ms. Campbell stated that she would like to have their own interpreter on staff in Alexander County as well as bilingual workers in the front office at DSS.
HEALTH DEPARTMENT UPDATE
Leeanne Whisnant, Health Director, began the Health Department update with information regarding disease reporting. Ms. Whisnant reported that the Health Department would be working with the community to help citizens understand disease reporting and also noted that federal money would be given for regional response teams to expand support for all diseases, not just bioterrorism.
Ms. Whisnant discussed Health Department visits which included the following:
Ms. Whisnant reviewed 2000-2001 revenues for the Health Department which totaled $1,791,351 and included $160,702 for Medicaid recipients, $328,351 for State funds, and $1,302,296 for fees collected.
Ms. Whisnant reported that Alexander County had gone from 8th place to 3rd place in the State immunization rate for the western region.
Ms. Whisnant also reported that Health Department staff was working with flexible scheduling. Staff will be staying later in the evenings to provide more convenience for citizens who work a later shift.
County employee health care was discussed. Ms. Whisnant stated that staff would like to do more for county employees and provide things like stop smoking clinics and weight watchers lunches.
Ms. Whisnant reported that Animal Control was now operating under the Health Department and reviewed the proposed fees.
Ms. Whisnant stated that the Board of Health would be reviewing standard operating procedures for Animal Control at their next meeting.
Ms. Whisnant commented on the Animal Action Leage and stated that many volunteer helped with the animals that are picked up by Animal Control. Ms. Whisnant voiced her concerns with the volunteers taking the animals and moving them around and stated that she was concerned about lawsuits. Ms. Whisnant stated that staff would make sure the volunteers were protected and supervised.
Ms. Whisnant also discussed the new animal shelter and stated that once completed, there would be 2 officers and 1 clerical person housed in the building.
Ms. Whisnant went over the following animal facts:
Ms. Whisnant informed the Board that staff was considering making it mandatory to spay and neuter adopted animals.
PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT OPTIONS
Sylvia Turnmire, Director of Planning & Development, addressed public hearing scheduling options and ordinance revisions first discussed at the January 22, 2002 meeting.
Joint Public Hearings
Ms. Turnmire explained that joint public hearings could be held between the Board of Commissioners and Planning & Zoning Commission to significantly shorten the timeframe of rezoning cases.
Ms. Turnmire clarified that the joint public hearings would take place at the Board of Commissioners Regular Meeting instead of the Planning & Zoning Commission Meetings. Ms. Turnmire also stated that the Planning & Zoning Commission could hold 2 meetings a month instead of one a month if so desired by the Board.
Timeframe on Subdivision Plats
Ms. Turnmire discussed subdivision plats and explained that an amendment was made last year that allowed staff to approve minor subdivisions. Ms. Turnmire reported that this had sped up the process tremendously.
Manufactured Home Ordinance
At the January 22, 2002, Commissioner Robertson discussed a loophole in the Manufactured Home Appearance Criteria Ordinance and felt that it should be addressed.
Commissioner Robertson explained that with the current ordinance, a pre 76 mobile home could be moved in from another county if the mobile home was being placed in a mobile home park. The mobile home could then be moved to a lot within the county. Commissioner Robertson stated that this ordinance was not keeping these mobile homes out of the county as planned and felt that it should be reworded.
Ms. Turnmire stated that Luther Stocks, Tax Administrator, had printed a list for her which showed the number of mobile homes in the county through 1999. The list showed that there were 1,063 singlewides and 3,287 doublewides located within the county. Ms. Turnmire noted that approximately 1/3 of the countys pre 76 mobile homes were grandfathered in when the ordinance was adopted.
Commissioner Robertson explained that pre 76 mobile homes did not meet HUD standards and were fire hazards. Commissioner Robertson suggested that the Planning & Zoning Commission deny any requests to move a pre 76 mobile home for safety reasons.
Commissioner Hammer inquired about the disposal of mobile homes. Ms. Turnmire replied that mobile homes could be disposed of at the Caldwell County landfill. Ms. Turnmire also stated that Caldwell County had a manufactured home dump as well.
Commissioner Robertson voiced his concerns with the Subdivision Ordinance and explained that that with the current ordinance, families could not divide their property into sections for family members.
Ms. Turnmire explained that if the ordinance was changed to allow private roads built to State specs, it would be easier to allow families to divide their property.
After the review, Ms. Turnmire stated that she and the Planning & Zoning Commission would discuss and review the changes suggested.
FOOTHILLS MENTAL HEALTH
John Alexander, Foothills Mental Health Director, gave an overview of Foothills Mental Health and stated that Foothills served McDowell, Burke, Caldwell, and Alexander governmental agencies. Mr. Alexander noted that each county had the option to provide mental health and substance abuse treatment itself or contract with an agency such as Foothills Mental Health.
Mr. Alexander explained that a new Mental Health Reform Bill was adopted due to reports of financial unaccountability and complaints that mental health facilities werent responsive to consumer needs. The new legislation promotes consumer and county determination in regard to a mental health provider and allows the consumer to decide what is needed. Mr. Alexander stated that consumer forums would be held through October or November 2002 to gather public input and identify gaps.
Mr. Alexander stated that once all forums have been held and the new plan is adopted, the county must decide to provide mental health and substance abuse treatment on the countys own behalf or contract with Foothills. Mr. Alexander also stated that the county must declare its intent by resolution by October but noted that the decision could not be made until the formal plan has been approved by Secretary Buell.
Mr. Alexander notified the Board that a consumer forum would be held in Alexander County on Monday, February 4, 2002 from 6:00-8:00 PM at East Taylorsville Baptist Church.
Mr. Alexander also discussed the budget shortfall situation in Raleigh and noted that the State may ask counties to pick up the gap in funding but noted that counties may not be able to do so.
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT PLAN UPDATE
Terry Foxx, Emergency Management Director, gave an update on the Emergency Management Plan. Mr. Foxx presented a Power Point Presentation which included the following information.
Review of Key Objectives & Critical Factors
Review of Key Steps to Plan Rewrite
Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC)
Animal Response Preparedness
Emergency Operations Plan
Commissioner Odom suggested training volunteers for animal response as well as developing a training packet for volunteers.
There being no further business, the Retreat was adjourned at 5:30 PM to be continued on Saturday, February 2, 2002.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2002
On Saturday, February 2, 2002, the Alexander County Board of Commissioners met in the Hiddenite Room at the Hidden Crystal Inn in Hiddenite, North Carolina to continue the 2002 Retreat.
Dale Clary, Board of Education Chairman, gave opening comments and conveyed his appreciation to all present for the efforts to take another step forward for education.
Catawba Valley Community College
Future Facility Needs
Old Wittenburg School
Mr. Hoke conveyed his appreciation to the Board of Commissioners for their cooperation with school projects. The Board of Commissioners thanked Mr. Hoke, the Board of Education, and staff for their cooperation as well.
Commissioner Watts felt that both boards made a lot of progress through the retreat meetings and were able to put a lot of projects in focus for the future.
Commissioner Robertson asked if the Board of Education had discussed re-establishing the Blue Ribbon Committee. Brent Fox, Board of Education, stated that re-establishing the committee was a possibility in the future.
There being no further business, the Annual Retreat was adjourned at 10:20 AM.
Joel C. Harbinson, Chairman Jamie C. Millsaps, Clerk to the Board