November 12, 2002
The Alexander County Board of Commissioners held its regular meeting on Tuesday, November 12, 2002 in the Commissioners Room of the Alexander County Courthouse, Taylorsville, North Carolina.
No citizens asked to speak during the Peoples Agenda. Therefore, the following items were discussed:
CALL TO ORDER
Chairman Odom called the meeting to order at 6:55 PM.
INVOCATION AND PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Rev. Clyde Penrey, Pastor of Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church, gave the invocation and Sandy Yang, student at West Alexander Middle School, led the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.
CITIZEN OF THE MONTH
Commissioner Harbinson stated that the Citizen of the Month Award was started several years ago in order to recognize and honor the "unsung heroes" of Alexander County.
Commissioner Harbinson began by asking Charles Richard Williams (a.k.a. Baldy) to say a few words about outgoing Sheriff Ray Warren. Mr. Williams stated that he had known Sheriff Warren for many years and felt that the County was under good leadership with Mr. Warren as Sheriff. Mr. Williams also stated that he sincerely appreciated Sheriff Warren and noted that his retirement was a moment that no one looked forward to.
Commissioner Harbinson then presented the Citizen of the Month Award to a very surprised Charles Richard Williams. Commissioner Harbinson read the following information about Mr. Williams:
Commissioner Harbinson stated that several years ago the Board was working with the Recreation Department to appoint members to the Recreation Board. Mr. Williams suggested allowing every community recreational organization to appoint their president to serve on the Recreation Board. Commissioner Harbinson stated that the Board took Mr. Williams advice and implemented this form of appointing members to the Recreation Board. Commissioner Harbinson thanked Mr. Williams for his service to the Recreation Department as well as for many personal things done on behalf of Commissioners Harbinson, Odom, and Watts.
SPECIAL RECOGNITION ***BUBBA WATTS AWARDS***
Commissioner Watts stated that the Bubba Watts Award was instituted 5 years ago to recognize outstanding volunteer leadership in each of the recreational communities. Commissioner Watts stated that the award was in memory of Bubba Watts who was an Alexander County Citizen and Recreation volunteer.
Jesse Riddle, Parks & Recreation Director, presented the Bubba Watts Awards to the following individuals:
Chairman Odom recognized Rick French, County Manager for any comments for the Chairmans Report.
Mr. French informed the Board that there were informational reports from several County departments included in the agenda packets. Mr. French also briefly discussed the adoption of the half-cent sales tax and stated that the Board would be considering some budget amendments for several departments later in the meeting.
ADOPTION OF AGENDA
Commissioner Harbinson asked Rick French, County Manager, what items were to be discussed during Other Business. Mr. French replied that the following items were to be discussed during Other Business:
Commissioner Harbinson requested the addition of the following items during Other Business:
Commissioner Hammer asked that Budget Amendment #17 included in the Consent Agenda be pulled out and discussed separately.
Chairman Odom stated that he would be stepping down as Chairman at the close of the meeting and noted that the Board would need to vote on a replacement to fulfill the remainder of his chairmanship. Chairman Odom stated that he would like Commissioner Watts to fulfill this role and also preside over the meeting tonight. Chairman Odom stated that this action was to show his respect for Commissioner Watts for his leadership and ability to conduct a meeting in an efficient and professional manner.
There being no further amendments, Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to adopt the agenda as amended. Commissioner Watts seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
At this time, Chairman Odom turned the gavel over to Commissioner Watts.
PUBLIC HEARING: REZONING CASE 02-9: GILBERT
Sylvia Turnmire, Director of Planning & Development, presented Rezoning Case 02-9 submitted by Jimmy Gilbert, Sr. Mr. Gilbert requested rezoning of property located on the south side of US 64/90 from RA-20 (Residential Agricultural) to H-C (Highway-Commercial) and N-B (Neighborhood Business) to H-C (Highway-Commercial). The size of the property is approximately 3.85 acres and the current land use is a convenience store and vacant. Ms. Turnmire stated that zoning within 100 feet of the property was RA-20 to the north, east, and west as well as RA-20 and N-B to the south. There are single family residential homes to the north, manufactured homes to the south, vacant property and agricultural use to the east, and a poultry house to the west.
Ms. Turnmire stated that there was an existing convenience store located on the east side of the property (1.74 acre tract). The applicant wishes to rezone the property in order to allow for any future expansion of his existing business (In & Out Market).
Ms. Turnmire also stated that the applicant also wanted to bring an existing off-premise billboard, located on the 1.74 acre tract, into compliance with Alexander County Zoning Regulations. A second billboard is being proposed by the owner on the 2.11 acre tract. Ms. Turnmire stated that Section 154.129(G) of the Zoning Ordinance stated that "the distance between off-premise signs shall be, for Federal Aid Primary Highways (US 64 and NC 16), 1,000 feet between signs on the same side of the right-of-ways." Ms. Turnmire stated that the property has approximately 1,100 feet of road frontage and noted that if the rezoning request was granted, the existing sign and any other proposed sign would require all proper permits including building permits and approval from the NCDOT. Ms. Turnmire noted that the existing billboard was placed on the property after the applicant was notified that zoning did not allow that use. Ms. Turnmire also mentioned that the property was not served by public water or sewer.
Ms. Turnmire informed the Board that the Planning & Zoning Commission held a public hearing on November 7, 2002 to review this request at which the Planning & Zoning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the rezoning request. Ms. Turnmire stated that two adjoining property owners were present at the public hearing to ask questions as to how the rezoning would affect their property value. Staff also received one call from an adjoining property owner in favor of the rezoning.
Acting Chairman Watts called for any public comment. There being no public comment, Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to close the public hearing. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to approve Rezoning Case 02-9. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Acting Chairman Watts also congratulated Ms. Turnmire on the birth of her son, Cameron.
PUBLIC HEARING: FY 2004 COMMUNITY TRANSPORTATION PROGRAM GRANT
Patti Foster, Transportation Director, requested approval of a resolution to apply for the 2004 Community Transportation Grant in order to enhance the provision of rural human service and general public transportation in North Carolina. Ms. Foster stated that the application consolidated the administrative, employee development, capital, technology, and facility renovation/repair funding grant programs into one application package and she noted that administrative and employee development funding are reimbursed at 80% federal share, 5% state share, and a local match of 15%. Capital, technology, and facility renovation/repair funding are reimbursed at 90% state share and 10% local match.
Ms. Foster informed the Board that this years application required a public hearing only if requested in advance. A public hearing was not requested; therefore, not held.
Ms. Foster stated that the original amount of funding applied for by Alexander County for FY 2004 Community Transportation Program Grant, Administrative and Employee Development was $64,217. However, Ms. Foster requested that an additional $6,901 be added to the administrative request for funding and noted that the NCDOT/PTD had advised that they would review and consider additional funding for all systems with this request. This would change the amount of funding applied for to $71,118 and would also change the following:
Total Administrative Expenses from $63,217 to $70,118
Total Employee Development at $1,000 (no change)
Ms. Foster stated that the amount of funding applied for by Alexander County for the FY 2004 Community Transportation Program Grant, Capital, Technology, and Facility renovation/repair funding would be $69,800 which included:
Ms. Foster stated that total capital would be $69,300 with local match of $6,930 and total technology would be $500 with a local match of $50.
Ms. Foster informed the Board that the estimated amount of funding applied for by Alexander County for the FY 2004 Community Transportation Program Grant would change from $134,017 with a local match of $16,612.55 to $140,918 with a local match of $17,647.70 with the addition of the $6,901.
Commissioner Hammer made a motion to approve the resolution to apply for the FY 2004 Community Transportation Program Grant. Commissioner Odom seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
REQUEST FROM REGISTER OF DEEDS CONCERNING BELL TOWER
Ben Hines, Register of Deeds, requested final approval of the site for the Alexander County Veterans Memorial Bell Tower on the Alexander County Courthouse Lawn. Mr. Hines stated that 4 stakes had been placed at the site on the Courthouse Lawn to represent the 4 corners of the tower. Mr. Hines also presented sample bricks to the Board that would be used to build the tower.
Mr. Hines reported that Bucky Foster would be building the tower and masonry work would be done by Frankie Tedder. Mr. Hines stated that Commissioner Robertson had provided engineering services for the tower and Mr. Hines noted that he had discussed safety and cleanup with Russell Greene, Fire Marshal. Mr. Hines mentioned that he had received the drawings and permits for the tower as well.
Mr. Hines also discussed the funding for the tower and stated that the proposed cost for the tower was $16,000. There is currently $12,241.44 on hand which includes $4,986.44 in a bank account with Taylorsville Savings Bank from donations and an appropriation of $7,255 by the Board of Commissioners on October 2, 2001. Mr. Hines stated that an additional $3,758.56 was still needed and he requested this amount to be appropriated from the Board.
Mr. Hines stated that a dedication ceremony for the Alexander County Veterans Memorial Bell Tower would be held on Saturday, December 7, 2002 at 10:00 AM on the Courthouse Lawn. Mr. Hines felt that the bell tower would be a unique place for a couple to get married.
Commissioner Odom stated that the bell, which once hung in the 1902 courthouse, rang when World War II was over. Commissioner Odom stated that the bell was a symbol that honored the service men and women of Alexander County and stood for everything that was good. Commissioner Odom stated that every leader, including evil ones, had symbols but he noted that their symbols did not stand for freedom or for what was right.
Commissioner Odom made a motion to fund the additional $3,758.56 for the Alexander County Veterans Memorial Bell Tower in honor and memory of service men and women and to proceed with the project as planned. Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
2001-2002 AUDIT SUMMARY
Acting Chairman Watts reported that the Budget and Audit Committee had met recently to review the Audit Summary provided by Martin Starnes & Associates, CPAs, for the year ended June 30, 2002.
Jennifer Herman, Budget Officer, presented an attachment to the audit summary placed in the Boards agenda packets which included additional information as well as several corrections. Ms. Herman notified the Board that once the corrections and additions had been discussed, the Board could return the audit summaries provided to them so that Ms. Herman could make those changes and provide the Board with an updated, clean audit summary.
Rick French, County Manager, reviewed the following corrections and information with the Board:
It was the first year of payments on the debt for Ellendale School.
It was the first full year of payments on ACHS debt (payments for half a year in 2001).
It was the first full year of payments on CVCC debt (payments for half a year in 2001).
Page 8 ("What-If" Change in Fund Balance) Also consider the effects of these significant items in 2001-2002:
Ms. Herman discussed some additional information which included the close out of October which occurred on October 31, 2002 with the Fund Balance at $3,087,000. Ms. Herman stated that the undesignated portion of the Fund Balance had significantly increased over the last 4 months and noted that departmental budget have not gone over the 33% mark in the budget at the current time. Ms. Herman stated that the Solid Waste budget still needed a little help but noted that the Solid Waste budget had a net income for the month of October due to the sale of timber. Ms. Herman stated that as of June 30, 2002, the Solid Waste budget still had a deficit fund balance but she explained that LGC was aware the Solid Waste budget had a smaller net loss in 2002 than in 2001.
Acting Chairman Watts asked Ms. Herman if she had compared the status of the Solid Waste budget since changing vendors. Ms. Herman stated that she would do so.
Commissioner Robertson discussed the Unreserved Fund Balance and asked if the adjustment made for the schools would be reflected in that. Ms. Herman replied that the auditors did not have the exact figures for the adjustment when the audit summary was prepared but she noted that the adjustment was included in Budget Amendment #14 to be considered during the Consent Agenda.
Ms. Herman reported that she had began going over records for the debt service that the County had for Ellendale School and ACHS and discovered that the debt service payments were paid out of the General Fund. Ms. Herman stated that the County had not repaid itself out of the funding from the half-cent sales tax which was earmarked for the school system and noted that the Board of Education had agreed to let the County do so. Ms. Herman mentioned that in the 2003 budget year, $1.3 million would be transferred into the General Fund from the Capital Improvements Fund to repay the General Fund and help increase the Fund Balance. Ms. Herman also noted that she had transferred some funding between the Countys investment accounts in September 2001 for the amount of funding for projects that had taken place through June 30, 2001.
Commissioner Robertson asked how much of that $1.3 million had already been transferred into the General Fund. Ms. Herman replied that at least $1 million had already been transferred.
Commissioner Odom made a motion to accept the 2001-2002 Audit Summary provided by Martin Starnes & Associates, CPAs, including changes and additions discussed. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Mr. French commended Ms. Herman and the Finance staff for their hard work.
GRANT PROJECT BUDGET ORDINANCES & BUDGET AMENDMENTS
Rick French, County Manager, presented the following Grant Project Budget Ordinances and Budget Amendments:
Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to approve the Budget Amendments as well as the resolutions and ordinances included with the amendments. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Harbinson requested discussion of Budget Amendment #17 at this time. The Board agreed. Therefore, Jamie Millsaps, Clerk to the Board, distributed a detail for the Sheriffs Department portion of Budget Amendment #17. Mr. French explained that Board members present at the recent Budget and Audit Committee Meeting had requested detailed information regarding the adjustments for Sheriff and Jail salaries.
Commissioner Harbinson stated that the budget amendment for the Sheriffs Department would be to simply maintain the Sheriffs Department budget through the end of the fiscal year so that no deputies would have to be laid off. Commissioner Harbinson stated that all budgets were cut drastically this fiscal year, including the Sheriffs Department, and he noted that the Board had promised to look at additional funding for departments if the County received the additional half-cent sales tax, which took place on October 29, 2002.
Ray Warren, Alexander County Sheriff, explained that the Sheriffs Department base salary was $790,000 which covered 23 essential employees with no vacation, sick, or holiday leave included. Sheriff Warren explained that if these 23 essential employees took 80 hours of leave which would include 10 holidays and 10 vacation days and were not allowed any sick time, it would cost an additional $44,160 to operate and pay these employees. Sheriff Warren stated that the reason for the funding request was to simply allow the Sheriffs Department to pay everyones salary for the remainder of the fiscal year and give these 23 essential employees 10 holidays and 10 vacation days with the hopes that no one gets sick or takes an extended leave.
Commissioner Harbinson made the statement that this budget amendment was nothing of a "Lame Duck" nature to pad the budget for the incoming sheriff. Sheriff Warren noted that without this amendment, the Sheriffs Department would be forced to eliminate 2 employees for the remainder of the fiscal year.
Commissioner Hammer asked Sheriff Warren how many part-time employees the Sheriffs Department employed. Sheriff Warren replied that there were approximately 10 certified part-time officers, 3 part-time Jail staff, and 3 part-time Communications staff. Sheriff Warren noted that these employees were only used on a replacement basis.
Acting Chairman Watts asked if the additional funding would include funding for emergency situations where additional staff was needed. Sheriff Warren noted that the additional funding would not cover those situations and noted that in that case, the incoming Sheriff would be forced to request additional funding from the Board as needed. Sheriff Warren also mentioned that when the jail population reached 30, an additional jail employee was called in which would also result in additional costs.
Commissioner Hammer discussed the budget cuts that were enforced during this budget year and stated that the Sheriffs Department budget was only reduced by 2% when others were reduced by 20% such as the Library. Mr. French noted that the Sheriffs Department budget was reduced more than 2%. Commissioner Hammer stated that he did not agree with approving the additional funding for the Sheriffs Department when other departmental budgets were reduced more and had lost employees.
Commissioner Odom stated that he respected Commissioner Hammers concerns but felt that a citizen needing emergency assistance in the middle of the night took precedence over the need for a library book, even though library books were very important. Commissioner Odom felt that the Boards priorities should be in public safety and he recommended approval of the budget amendment.
Commissioner Harbinson informed the Board that Budget Amendment #17 not only included additional funding for the Sheriffs Department, but also for the Library and the Rescue Squad.
Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to approve Budget Amendment #17 in its entirety as presented. Commissioner Odom seconded the motion. The Board voted 4 in favor of the motion (Commissioners Harbinson, Odom, Robertson, and Watts) and one against the motion (Commissioner Hammer). Motion carried.
Acting Chairman Watts stated that dollar wise, the Sheriffs Department took a major cut in funding. Acting Chairman Watts noted that sometimes you should look at actual dollar amounts instead of percentages.
Commissioner Robertson stated that the County had a lot of needs and noted that staff would do what was needed to provide essential services. Commissioner Robertson stated that with the budget problems occurring, departments would be forced to evaluate their budget monthly.
APPOINTMENT OF TAX ADMINISTRATOR
Rick French, County Manager, presented minutes from the July 17, 1995 Commissioners Meeting which read that Luther Stocks was appointed as Tax Administrator for a 4-year term. Mr. French also presented minutes from the October 3, 2002 Commissioners Meeting which read that Luther Stocks was appointed as Tax Administrator for a 2-year term.
Mr. French recommended the appointment of Luther Stocks as Tax Administrator for a 2-year term to maintain the time frame of the appointment used in the past.
Commissioner Odom made a motion to appoint Luther Stocks as Tax Administrator for a 2-year term. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
The following issues were discussed during Other Business:
Commissioner Robertson made the motion to award the contract for the Liledoun and Rink Dam Road CDBG Water Project to Neil Grading and Construction Company of Hickory in the amount of $523,635.51. Commissioner Odom seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Odom stated that he would like for the Board to consider an exemption in this case and a possible text amendment to the ordinance. Commissioner Odom felt that the ordinance might create hardships for some people that own manufactured homes and want to better themselves but do not have local market to sell the home because it is not considered a "habitable dwelling" according to the appearance criteria. Commissioner Odom stated that he was aware that pre-HUD manufactured homes did not have the fire rating that the newer homes had but he also noted that the older "stick built" homes did not have the fire rating either but was still a marketable home and could be sold.
Commissioner Odom asked the Board to consider a public hearing for a possible text amendment to the Manufactured Housing Appearance Criteria in order to not infringe upon the citizens of Alexander County who currently own a manufactured home that is a habitable dwelling so that they may be able to sell that home and have it moved within the boundaries of the county. Commissioner Odom felt that if the home was good enough to pay property taxes on, it was good enough to sell.
Commissioner Odom asked Sylvia Turnmire, Director of Planning & Development, if it would be possible to enact a variance or disclaimer to the ordinance. Ms. Turnmire stated that she was not familiar with the legalities of such action but would research this issue. Ms. Turnmire noted that she was only familiar with variances in regard to property and not an actual structure.
Commissioner Odom also suggested that Planning & Development staff inspect Mr. Georges manufactured home to determine if it a habitable dwelling. Ms. Turnmire stated that staff would do so.
Commissioner Harbinson suggested tabling this issue for the incoming Board to consider. Commissioner Odom stated that he would agree if the incoming Board would be willing to explore this issue.
Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to table this issue until the first Commissioners Meeting in December inclusive of Commissioner Odom request for an inspection. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to increase the commissioners compensation to $500 per month beginning in December 2002.
Acting Chairman Watts proposed a Friendly Amendment to increase the compensation to $500 per month in July 2003 for the 2003-2004 fiscal year. Acting Chairman Watts also felt that the Chairmanship position was one of great responsibility and he suggested that the Chairman of the Board receive $600 per month.
Commissioner Robertson agreed and felt that it was fair because the chairmanship rotated and everyone got a chance to be chairman. Commissioner Robertson suggested beginning the increase during the next fiscal year.
Commissioner Harbinson stated that the only reason he wanted to move forward with the increase in December was so the incoming Board would not be accused of raising its own salary. However, Commissioner Harbinson amended his motion to increase the commissioners compensation to $500 per month beginning July 1, 2003 in the 2003-2004 fiscal year. Therefore, Acting Chairman Watts withdrew his Friendly Amendment.
Commissioner Odom informed the Board that he had compared the compensation for Alexander County Commissioners with other counties. Listed below are a few counties comparable to Alexander Countys size and compensation:
After reviewing the comparison, Commissioner Odom proposed increasing the commissioners salary to $600 per month beginning in December 2002 making Alexander County more in line with other counties across the State.
Commissioner Harbinson withdrew his most recent motion and made a motion to increase the commissioners compensation to $600 per month beginning December 2002. Commissioner Odom seconded the motion. The Board voted 4 in favor of the motion (Commissioners Hammer, Harbinson, Odom, and Robertson) and one against (Commissioner Watts). Motion carried.
Commissioner Harbinson stated that Mr. French was hired by the current Board consisting of 3 Democrats and 2 Republicans and noted that everyone agreed that they did not want the County Managers position to be political but wanted it to be professional. Commissioner Harbinson felt that Mr. French had served well in that capacity. Commissioner Harbinson stated that the County Managers Contract had been agreed upon by the Board several months ago but he noted that the Board had agreed to vote on the contract tonight so that it did not appear to be political.
Commissioner Robertson stated that the hiring of a County Manager was the first major decision that the current Board faced together. Commissioner Robertson stated that all 5 Board members agreed that Mr. French was the best Alexander County could get. Commissioner Robertson also noted that Mr. French had served on the Foothills Area Mental Health Board for the last year and was willing tackle tough things. Commissioner Robertson felt that Mr. French was a great asset to the County.
Commissioner Hammer stated that things started off slow between he and Mr. French but he noted that when the two of them got to know each other better, Commissioner Hammer felt like he could put faith in Mr. French. Commissioner Hammer commended Mr. French on his hard work and effort in coordinating the toughest budget ever. Commissioner Hammer also noted that he felt Mr. French had done a fine job and would continue to do so.
Acting Chairman Watts reported that the contract was for 5 years and allowed the Board the option to assess Mr. Frenchs performance each year for potential salary increases, etc.
Acting Chairman Watts made a motion to approve the County Managers Contract for Rick French for 5 years as presented. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Mr. French stated that he greatly appreciated the kind words spoken and noted that he enjoyed working in Alexander County very much. Mr. French also stated that he was glad to call Alexander County home.
Therefore, Commissioner Odom made a motion to declare Sheriff Ray Warrens weapon and badge as surplus and allow him to keep such items in appreciation for his hard work and dedication to keeping the citizens of Alexander County safe. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Robertson made a motion to declare Commissioners Harbinson and Watts computers as surplus and allow them to keep them as well as retain county Internet service for a period of time in appreciation for their time served on the Board and their service to Alexander County. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted 3 in favor of the motion (Commissioners Hammer, Odom, and Robertson) and 2 abstentions (Commissioners Harbinson and Watts). Motion carried.
Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to send a letter to the NCDOT request stoplights at Bethlehem Elementary School and at the crossroads in Hiddenite. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Odom made a motion to pull the current proposed water agreement between Alexander County, the Town of Taylorsville, and EnergyUnited off the table to allow the incoming Board to pick up and renegotiate if so desired. Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Harbinson stated that Rocky Springs and Cheatham Ford were not on the Countys system but on EnergyUniteds. Commissioner Harbinson noted that the unique thing about these petitions was that the citizens in these areas had agreed to put up their own money to get water lines. Commissioner Harbinson stated that the Board had recently agreed to match what was raised by these citizens in order to provide a financial incentive to EnergyUnited to install these lines. Commissioner Harbinson that, while negotiations are ongoing, the preliminary opinions being received from EnergyUnited was that the money raised would be an insufficient amount to provide a financial incentive.
Commissioner Harbinson also discussed Quail Hollow in the Little River area and stated that this road was surveyed and considered to be apart of the Little River CDBG Water Project which was completed recently. However, the water line was not run along Quail Hollow but another road in order to serve more houses. Commissioner Harbinson stated that the residents of Quail Hollow were very instrumental in getting the CDBG project and he felt that they deserved to get their water lines as well.
Commissioner Harbinson suggested that, due to the revenues to be collected from the additional half-cent sales tax, the Board increase the match of the funds collected from Rocky Springs and Cheatham Ford to $75,000 each as a financial incentive to EnergyUnited and to also appropriated $40,000 to complete the water line in Little River to run along Quail Hollow. Commissioner Harbinson stated that this was a total of $115,000 more than what has already been pledged and appropriated.
Commissioner Robertson stated that he understood the need for water lines but felt that the Board should not commit to water lines at the current time due to the uncertainty of the budget.
Commissioner Odom noted that the bids for the Liledoun and Rink Dam Road CDBG Water Project had came in low. Commissioner Odom asked if it would be possible to transfer funds in order to contribute to the Rocky Springs, Cheatham Ford, and Quail Hollow lines. Mr. French stated that he would speak to Nancy Coley but he felt that the funds would have to be spent in the Liledoun and Rink Dam Road area and could not be transferred.
Commissioner Hammer stated that he also understood the need for water lines and noted that water was also desperately needed along Highway 127 and in Vashti. Commissioner Hammer noted that the County had already agreed to match what was collected from the homeowners in the Rocky Springs and Cheatham Ford areas and he felt that the County had adequately helped. Commissioner Hammer stated that these areas were located in the EnergyUnited system and felt that these lines should be EnergyUniteds responsibility more so than the County. Commissioner Hammer also stated that a committee had joined to discuss possibly forming a new water district similar to the Highway 16 South Water District which Commissioner Hammer felt was a positive idea.
Commissioner Odom noted that never before had the County received petitions where the citizens were willing to group together and pay more than a tap fee to get a water line until the petitions were received from Rocky Springs and Cheatham Ford. Commissioner Odom stated that this action should result in a priority.
Acting Chairman Watts mentioned that these appropriations would be contingent upon EnergyUniteds acceptance and noted that if not accepted by EnergyUnited, these funds would not be spent.
Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to approve the appropriation of $75,000 towards the Rocky Springs area, $75,000 towards the Cheatham Ford Road, and $40,000 for Quail Hollow for water lines. Commissioner Odom seconded the motion. The Board voted 3 in favor of the motion (Commissioners Harbinson, Odom, and Watts) and 2 against the motion (Commissioners Hammer and Robertson). Motion carried.
Commissioner Odom made a motion to nominate John Watts to serve as Chairman during the remainder of his term as County Commissioner. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Odom made a motion to approve the Consent Agenda as amended (removal of Budget Amendment #17). Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
***SPECIAL RECOGNITION OF/AND BY OUTGOING COMMISSIONERS
Commissioner Odom stated that he was proud to have had the opportunity to serve with two fine individuals over the last several years. Commissioner Odom stated that Joel Harbinson and John Watts both stood for honesty and integrity and felt that the citizens of Alexander County would continue to benefit from the work they had put so much hard work into such as new schools, water lines, and other construction.
Commissioner Odom stated that he would be presenting two plaques tonight, one to John Watts and one to Joel Harbinson, from the entire Board and from the citizens of Alexander County. Commissioner Odom presented the first plaque to Commissioner John Watts which read:
Acting Chairman Watts stated that one of the nicest compliments that he had ever received came from a classmate at Governors School who said, "He never speaks unless he has something to say." Acting Chairman Watts stated that he had always tried to say things to the point. Acting Chairman Watts stated that in college he realized that he had some ability to lead and he felt that that ability was something that could not be ignored. Acting Chairman Watts stated that he had been blessed with a wonderful mother and father, wife, son, and daughter and he noted that no one had ever stood beside him like his son Jonathan did on the night of Tuesday, November 5, 2002. Acting Chairman Watts stated that he had tried in the last 4 years to provide a vision for the future of Alexander County and to prepare for the future but he noted that not everyone could understand that vision or appreciate it. Acting Chairman Watts stated that he hoped that 5 years from now those people would understand the reasons behind the actions of the past 4 years. Acting Chairman Watts mentioned that he had always wanted to serve the people and make the County a better place and he noted that that would never change. He stated that he had always wanted to follow in the footsteps of his parents who also strived to help people. Acting Chairman Watts explained that his father helped students get college scholarships and was always giving children chewing gum and his mother was a school teacher for over 40 years. Acting Chairman Watts stated that he appreciated serving on the Board of Commissioners for the last 4 years and noted that he was not ashamed of anything done by the Board. He felt that maybe in some ways the Board moved too fast on some projects but he noted that when you have an opportunity, you have to seize it. Acting Chairman Watts stated that he would treasure the friendships that he had made during the past 4 years and that he felt that this was the longest soliloquy that he had ever given during his tenure as County Commissioner!
Commissioner Odom presented the second plaque to Commissioner Joel Harbinson which read:
Commissioner Odom stated that Commissioner Harbinson had been the lightning rod of the Board since 1998 and had stood up on the Countys behalf on several occasions. Commissioner Odom stated that, when elected in 1998, he had asked Commissioner Harbinson to serve as Chairman for the first year instead of him because Commissioner Odom felt he had a weakness in conducting a meeting. Commissioner Odom stated that many people had called him "Joels boy" and had said that he did anything that Commissioner Harbinson told him to do. Commissioner Odom stated that he had always been his own man but felt that you should put your best person forward first when it came to county government which in his opinion was Commissioner Harbinson. Commissioner Odom stated that Commissioner Harbinson had always strived to make Alexander County a better place to raise children and to give the children more opportunities. Commissioner Odom stated that he had found a leader in Commissioner Harbinson because he stood for what was right and therefore did not mind being called "Joels boy."
Commissioner Harbinson conveyed his appreciation for the plaque and the comments made by Commissioner Odom. Commissioner Harbinson discussed the Ten Commandment displays that he had placed in each of the courtrooms and stated that since he was an outgoing commissioner, the displays may be something that would not be legally defendable. Commissioner Harbinson stated that he did not want to put the incoming Board under any restrictions or liability; therefore, Commissioner Harbinson removed the Ten Commandment displays from each of the courtrooms and presented one to Commissioner Odom and Commissioner Watts. Commissioner Harbinson noted that he would donate the Historical Documents Display located inside the courthouse as a gift to the citizens of Alexander County. Commissioner Harbinson stated that he appreciated everyone on the Board and noted that he had enjoyed getting to know Commissioner Robertson and Commissioner Hammer. Commissioner Harbinson congratulated Norris Keever and Wes Bolick as well and stated that he wished the incoming Board nothing but success. Commissioner Harbinson stated that he hope that the citizens appreciated the work that had been done over the last 4 years and felt that it was important to look to the future. Commissioner Harbinson stated that this county was too small to be divided for any reason and urged the citizens to stick together and stand behind the incoming Board. Commissioner Harbinson stated that he, Commissioner Odom, and Commissioner Watts had accomplished everything they said they would and felt that they had set the framework for the County to move forward. Commissioner Harbinson then distributed cigars as parting gifts and asked to be excused in order for Commissioner Odom to read a personal message from Commissioner Harbinson.
Commissioner Odom read Commissioner Harbinsons resignation letter (which is hereby made a part of these minutes) which read as follows:
Having the resignation letter been read, Commissioner Odom made a motion that the Board accept Commissioner Harbinsons requests. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Robertson also requested that the Board present a Key to the County to Jarrett Harbinson in recognition of his service as an Interim Commissioner. The Board agreed to do so.
Commissioner Hammer spoke to Jonathan Watts, Commissioner Watts son, and stated that he could understand how Jonathan felt. Commissioner Hammer explained that his mother lost the Clerk of Court position in 1978 and he noted that it bothered him a great deal. Commissioner Hammer also stated that he was deeply saddened when he lost the Board of Education seat. Commissioner Hammer mentioned that he appreciated Commissioner Harbinson and Commissioner Watts and he thanked them for the work done during the last 4 years.
Commissioner Robertson stated that Commissioner Watts and Commissioner Harbinson made a good team because Commissioner Watts was a detail person and Commissioner Harbinson looked at the big picture of things. Commissioner Robertson stated that he had a good working relationship with both of them. Commissioner Robertson also noted that the issues that he differed on with Commissioner Watts and Commissioner Harbinson were never political, they were always related to dollars and cents. Commissioner Robertson conveyed his appreciation to both men as well as Jonathan Watts who recently earned his Learners Permit.
There being no further business, Acting Chairman Watts declared the meeting adjourned at 9:35 PM.
John F. Watts, Acting Chairman Jamie C. Millsaps, Clerk to the Board