March 17, 2003

PRESENT: W. Darrell Robertson, Chairman
William L. Hammer, Vice-Chairman
Wesley E. Bolick
W. Norris Keever
David S. Odom
STAFF: Rick French, County Manager
Jamie Millsaps, Clerk to the Board
David Icenhour, Human Resources Director
MEDIA: Gary Herman, The Taylorsville Times
Norris Keever, WACB Radio


The Alexander County Board of Commissioners held its regular meeting on Monday, March 17, 2003 in the Commissioners’ Room of the Alexander County Courthouse, Taylorsville, North Carolina.


Chairman Robertson called the meeting to order at 6:02 PM.


Commissioner Bolick gave the invocation and Commissioner Hammer led the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.


Chairman Robertson requested the addition of a Resolution to Approve the Request of Grant Assistance from the Rural Center Supplemental Grant Program for Water Line Extensions along NC Highway 127, Antioch Church Road, and Caldwell Pond Road during Agenda Item #4 (Report on Water Projects).

Commissioner Bolick made a motion to adopt the agenda as amended. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.


Keith Hertzler, Chamber of Commerce and EDC Director, gave an update on economic development activity during the last few months which included the following discussion:

    1. Mr. Hertzler informed the Board that he regularly attended the meetings of several committees including the Workforce Development Board, Future Forward which was started by Congressman Ballenger, Region E Development Board, Job Link, and the Rural Economic Development Institute.
    2. In an effort to save money and paper, the Chamber of Commerce has begun sending CD-Rom business cards to individuals and industries interested in relocating to this area. The CD-Rom business cards include pictures of the County, building information, the incentive policy, etc.
    3. Within the next 60 days, the Chamber of Commerce will complete a full color 16-page welcome and membership guide for Alexander County. The guide will also include important information about the County such as history, agriculture, industry, recreation, etc.
    4. Mr. Hertzler informed the Board that, since the disassociation from the Charlotte Regional Partnership on March 7, 2003, he had spoken with surrounding counties in regard to forming a new partnership. Mr. Hertzler stated that the surrounding counties were interested but felt that forming a new partnership would require a tremendous amount of time and effort. There was also some concerns expressed with county funding that would be required to form a new partnership. Mr. Hertzler, however, requested that the Chamber of Commerce/EDC have the lead role if a new partnership was formed in the future.
    5. In an effort to provide the same information as the Charlotte Regional Partnership, the Chamber of Commerce is striving to make www.alexandercountyedc.com available as soon as possible. The web site will feature information on available industrial and retail buildings, the incentive policy, county demographics, etc.
    6. Mr. Hertzler discussed the incentive policy and he stated that staff was considering adding a job creation clause to the policy which would allow for better incentives for an industry that created more jobs.
    7. Mr. Hertzler informed the Board that the Chamber of Commerce had been seeing an increase in citizens wanting to start their own business and he noted that the Chamber had received 3 inquiries this year mainly from plastic industries. These industries were looking for buildings in the 200,000 square foot range which are not present in Alexander County. Mr. Hertzler stated that he had received another inquiry from a product warehousing company for a 10,000 square foot building and 50 to 60 acres and he noted that there would soon be a company moving into the Industrial Park. Mr. Hertzler mentioned that a current company in the County would be expanding in the near future, mainly for warehousing. Mr. Hertzler also stated that he was constantly receiving calls from the retail and food industry.

Mr. Hertzler informed the Board that Alexander County had again been designated as a Tier 3 county. Mr. Hertlzer requested a work session with the Board in order to discuss economic development in the County, the direction of the economy, and a 5-year economic strategic plan for the County. The Board was also in favor of scheduling a work session in the future. Chairman Robertson also felt that the job creation clause in the incentive policy should also be discussed at the work session.

Commissioner Bolick asked if the Chamber of Commerce had researched the possibility of any type of bi-product businesses to support the new state prison such as a hotel or motel. Mr. Hertzler replied that there was a hotel chain looking at Alexander County but he felt that the chain would want the County to help financially.

Commissioner Hammer asked if any industry had ever qualified for the incentive policy in the past. Mr. Hertzler replied that Textron, who was to be located in the Industrial Park, had qualified to benefit from the incentive policy. However, due to the economy since September 11, 2001, Textron decided not to relocate to Alexander County.

Commissioner Bolick asked if there was anything that could be done to entice large chain restaurants to locate in Alexander County. Mr. Hertlzer stated that large chain restaurants would not locate in Alexander County because there could be no alcohol sales. Mr. Hertzler explained that alcohol sales was where these restaurants made the most profit. Commissioner Bolick asked if the Chamber of Commerce received inquiry calls from these types of restaurants in regard to alcohol sales. Mr. Hertzler stated that he usually received 3 or 4 inquiry calls per week from local citizens and chain restaurant representatives.

Chairman Robertson felt that Alexander County did not have the concentrated population to sustain a large chain restaurant. Chairman Robertson also noted that approximately 57% of the County population worked outside of the county, causing these people to spend their money in the county in which they worked.

The Board conveyed its appreciation to the Chamber of Commerce and to Mr. Hertzler.


Luther Stocks, Tax Administrator, presented a report on the status of collections for Alexander County which included the following information:

    1. The Tax Office is currently trying to implement procedures to increase the collection rate for the County. Mr. Stocks stated that the Tax Office had some problems in the past year with motor vehicle taxes.
    2. The Tax Office staff is currently sending correspondence to delinquent taxpayers informing them of the result of not paying their taxes. This action is having some positive results on collections. Mr. Stocks stated that staff sent second notices after January 6 when the taxes become delinquent. Staff also advertises the real estate accounts in The Taylorsville Times in April which also helps to collect those taxes.
    3. Real estate accounts that are over 3 years delinquent have been send to Caryn Brzykcy, a local attorney, with the exception of those taxpayers making payments. Ms. Brzykcy has collected $131,702.85 from June 2000 to December 2002; however, this project has been put on hold for the time being. Mr. Stocks explained that many of these delinquents are estates which causes the process to be much slower. Title searches on estates require more time to trace all heirs to the property and notify them that the property will be sold.
    4. Mr. Stocks stated that the Tax Office worked with the taxpayers on their delinquents and also set payment schedules for them. Delinquent accounts are only submitted for foreclosure proceedings if there is no response to payment correspondence.
    5. Staff is in the process of garnishing wages on delinquent taxpayers. The Tax Office has the authority to garnish wages if the taxes are delinquent, provided information concerning place of employment is available. Mr. Stocks reported that the Tax Office had received delinquent taxes by garnishment proceedings in the amount of $169,444.78 as of February 2003. The employers are withholding 10% of the employee’s payroll check to apply to the delinquent taxes.
    6. Mr. Stocks stated that staff was currently in the process of implementing the State Debt Setoff program for the County. This program allows a delinquent taxpayers State tax refund check or a portion to be sent to the County to be applied to delinquent taxes. Notices have been sent to 175 delinquent taxpayers. Mr. Stocks stated that he was required by law to give individuals 30 days to appeal their taxes. If they do not pay the taxes, these accounts will be submitted to the State. Mr. Stocks stated that the program had changed, requiring the taxpayer to incur the $15 charge instead of the County.
    7. Motor vehicle collections are a well-known problem over the entire State. Mr. Stocks explained that a taxpayer had eight months time on his or her registered vehicle before a tag would be blocked which creates problems for the Tax Office to collect on the billing. The Tax Office sends out approximately 42,000 vehicle billings per year and this represents around 18% of the total levy. Mr. Stocks noted that motor vehicle billing required a lot of staff time in relation to the amount of taxes collected.
    8. Mr. Stocks presented a summary of Cash and Investments and Property Tax Levies for the Fiscal Year ending June 30, 2001. The report indicated that most counties were having problems with motor vehicle collections. Mr. Stocks mentioned that Alexander County was in a group based on county population between 25,000 and 49,999. The summary indicated that the average percent collected for motor vehicles within the group was 84.93%. Alexander County’s motor vehicle collection is slightly above average at 86.43%. Mr. Stock stated that Alexander County collected 96.51% of regular collections on real estate and personal property excluding motor vehicles but had a collection rate of 95% including motor vehicles.
    9. Mr. Stocks discussed an article posted in the Charlotte Observe in January 2003 that reported that other counties in North Carolina were having problems with the way vehicle taxation was being implemented in the State. Mr. Stocks stated that he would like to see a change in the way motor vehicles were taxed such as requiring that the taxes be paid when the tag is purchased. However, Mr. Stocks felt that the DMV would probably not be interested in collecting money.

Mr. Stocks presented the following information concerning the collection status for past 8 years. The 2003 levy is through February 2003:

Levy Year


Outstanding Combined

Current Collections

Collected Percentage


$ 9,068,193

$ 929,818

$ 8,135,169



$ 8,963,695

$ 194,069

$ 8,769,625



$ 9,021,206

$ 86,388

$ 8,934,818



$ 7,796,662

$ 52,170

$ 7,744,492



$ 6,753,604

$ 32,956

$ 6,720,648



$ 6,997,587

$ 31,086

$ 6,966,501



$ 6,194,499

$ 25,716

$ 6,168,783



$ 5,924,832

$ 17,886

$ 5,906,946


Commissioner Odom asked if the Tax Office had received many calls regarding hardship cases due to increasing unemployment. Mr. Stocks stated that staff usually received a few of those but he noted that staff would work with those individuals through payment schedules.

Commissioner Keever discussed the real estate accounts that were turned over to Ms. Brzykcy and asked if there was any cost to the County. Mr. Stocks stated that there was no cost to the County but he noted that there was a cost to the taxpayer whose account had been turned over. Commissioner Keever inquired about the fee to the taxpayer. Mr. Stocks replied that the fee was not based on a percentage but a set fee agreed upon by the attorney and the Clerk of Court.

Commissioner Keever suggested requiring citizens to prepay motor vehicle taxes before purchasing a tag. Mr. Stocks was in favor of the suggestion but he noted that the laws would have to be changed in order to implement the requirement.

Commissioner Keever discussed the possibility of allowing wreckers to tow vehicles when the taxes were not paid. Mr. Stocks stated that this was not a State law but he noted that the Board might want to consider making it a County law.

Mr. Stocks informed the Board that the Tax Office was now using a very resourceful tool which allowed staff to find social security numbers for citizens who had delinquent taxes. Once the social security numbers are acquired, staff can find the citizen’s place of employment in order to mail a notice for wage garnishment. Mr. Stocks stated that staff collected $500 the first day that the tool was used.

Commissioner Bolick suggested that the Board schedule a work session in the future with Mr. Stocks, the County Attorney, and the Clerk of Court to discuss tax collections. The Board agreed.


Chairman Robertson presented a Resolution in Opposition to Governor Easley’s Budget which declared to impose the Governor’s proposed budget and implore the Governor to develop and adhere to a balanced budget between available revenues and required expenditures for services remanded by the citizens of NC and stop penalizing local governments for the State’s financial problems. The resolution will be mailed to Governor Easley.

Commissioner Odom made a motion to approve the Resolution in Opposition to Governor Easley’s Budget. Commissioner Keever seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.


Russell Greene, Fire Marshal, gave a report on several water projects in Alexander County which included the following:

    1. Engineers called the pre-final inspection for the Millersville water project on March 7, 2003. Some minor corrections are to be made to the drainage ditches and river crossing. Mr. Greene stated that the City of Hickory was free to make taps on the line and he noted that EnergyUnited was working to get approvals to make their connection.
    2. Construction has begun on the Liledoun Road, Herman Road, Sipe Road, and Rink Dam Road CDBG Project. The Rink Dam Road portion will end just short of Bowman’s Cutover. Mr. Greene stated that crews had had some problems with one piece of equipment while on Rink Dam Road and had not been able to make the river crossing at the foot of the hill. Neil Grading and Construction began work on Herman Road out to Sipe Road recently. Mr. Greene stated that, as of Friday (March 14, 2003), crews were working in the area of Jenkins Loop.
    3. Mr. Greene informed the Board that there was approximately $200,000 in excess funds from this project and he explained that staff had identified several areas in which water lines could be installed including a portion of Liledoun Road, Jenkins Loop, Arthur Jenkins Lane, Fess Little Road, and Valley Hill Drive. Mr. Greene stated that surveying and design work had begun in these areas.

    4. The design work and all paperwork has been submitted to the State for awaited approval for the $400,000 Rural Center Grant for Rink Dam Road. Mr. Greene stated that staff should receive approval from Duke Power to hang line on the bridge within 4 weeks.
    5. Mr. Greene presented the Resolution to Approve the Request of Grant Assistance from the Rural Center Supplemental Grant Program for Water Line Extensions along NC Highway 127, Antioch Church Road, and Caldwell Pond Road. Mr. Greene informed the Board that the deadline to submit applications for the $400,000 grant was March 31, 2003. Mr. Greene stated that the estimated cost of the project totaled $621,000 which would require the County to provide some funding toward the project. Mr. Greene noted that if approved, these lines would provide another tie-in with Caldwell County.
    6. Mr. Greene stated that he and Commissioner Hammer had met with Tim Glass of Quail Hollow Road who has agreed to work with County staff to secure the pledges from the citizens in that area for the water line. Mr. Greene stated that digging had begun and he noted that the City of Hickory had agreed to put the water line in the ground. Mr. Greene stated that he anticipated construction to begin on April 1, 2003.

Commissioner Odom inquired about the financial pledges. Mr. Greene stated that the citizens of Quail Hollow had agreed to pay $1,200 each which would pay the tap fees and a hydrant.

Commissioner Hammer discussed the proposed water line for Fess Little Road, which he thought was a private road. Mr. Greene informed Commissioner Hammer that Fess Little Road was not private and that there was a right-of-way there. Mr. Greene stated that the residents of Fess Little Road had agreed to give the County right-of-way in order to get water to the houses, including those in the back. Mr. Greene noted that a 2-inch line was proposed.

Chairman Robertson requested action on the Resolution to Approve the Request of Grant Assistance from the Rural Center Supplemental Grant Program for Water Line Extensions along NC Highway 127, Antioch Church Road, and Caldwell Pond Road. Commissioner Hammer made a motion to approve the resolution. Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

Chairman Robertson noted that the Board had asked McGill Associates staff to research the possibility of water lines for Sulpher Springs Road, Cheatham Ford Road, and the Rocky Springs and Vashti area for the September Rural Center grant cycle. Mr. Greene stated that McGill Associates staff would be presenting this information at the April 21, 2003 Commissioners’ Meeting.


Russell Greene, Fire Marshal, informed the Board that a $2,300 grant had been received for materials and installation of 250 smoke detectors. Mr. Greene stated that a training session was held today in regard to the installation of the smoke detectors and he noted that 5 out of the 8 volunteer fire departments were represented at the training session. Mr. Greene stated that he wished to take this opportunity to brag on the volunteers for the hard work that they do.


Rick French, County Manager, presented the annual application to apply for continuation of the Criminal Justice Partnership Program. Mr. French stated that this program was 100% State funded. The application is requesting $60,323 for the Resource Center, formally known as the Day Reporting Center.

Commissioner Odom made a motion to approve the annual application to apply for continuation of the Criminal Justice Partnership Program. Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.


Commissioner Hammer presented the following appointments and reappointments for consideration:

    2. Reappoint Joann Ballard 3-year term

      Reappoint Donald Robertson 3-year term

      Reappoint Clint Canaday 3-year term

    4. Reappoint Kimberly Taylor 1-year term

    6. Appoint Jason Hampton, DARE Officer Terms end January 2004

      Appoint Erin Salyer, ACHS Student

      Appoint Carrie Clodfelter, Assistant District Attorney

      Appoint Crystal Sain, Commissioner Appointment

      Commissioner Hammer noted that 2 additional appointments were needed


Need appointment to replace Donny Pennell

Commissioner Hammer noted that appointments were needed for the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council as well as the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board and he asked the Board for suggestions to be presented at the next Commissioners’ Meeting.

Commissioner Hammer made a motion to approve the appointments and reappointments as presented. Commissioner Odom seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.


Rick French, County Manager, discussed the following issues during Other Business:

    1. Mr. Rutledge has withdrawn his request for a conditional use permit to have mining operations on Emerald Lane.
    2. The Board will hold a public hearing on March 24, 2003 at 6:00 PM for the Bethlehem Sewer District. The Board will also be meeting with the Board of Education on March 31, 2003 at 6:00 PM at the Central Office.
    3. County staff recently received a letter from Carolina Land & Lakes, Inc. requesting $5,000 to do a groundwater survey in the county. Mr. French suggested that this request be considered at budget time (as part of the 2003-2004 budget).
    4. County staff has received the schedule for the NCACC district meetings. Mr. French stated that meeting for Districts 13, 14, and 15 (including Alexander County) would be held on April 24, 2003 from 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM at the Burke County Agriculture Building.
    5. Representative Howard Hunter has introduced two bills in regard to Medicaid. HB410 proposes to scale back county Medicaid contributions for 2003-2004 budget based on economic development tiers. Mr. French stated that Alexander County’s contributions would decrease from 15% to 9%. HB411 proposes to reduce all county Medicaid contributions entirely, not just those with federal share. Mr. French noted that the NCACC had proposed a plan to phase out county Medicaid contributions over a 6-year period.


Commissioner Odom made a motion to enter into Closed Session at 7:21 PM to discuss contractual matters and personnel issues pursuant to N.C.G.S. 143-318.11(a)(5 & 6). Commissioner Keever seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.


There being no further business, Commissioner Bolick made a motion to adjourn at 7:40 PM. Commissioner Odom seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.



W. Darrell Robertson, Chairman         Jamie C. Millsaps, Clerk to the Board