June 9, 2003

PRESENT: W. Darrell Robertson, Chairman
William L. Hammer, Vice-Chairman
Wesley E. Bolick (late)
W. Norris Keever
David S. Odom
STAFF: Rick French, County Manager
Jamie Millsaps, Clerk to the Board
David Icenhour, Human Resources Director
Russell Greene, Fire Marshal
Hayden Bentley, Sheriff
Chris Bowman, Chief Deputy
Greg Cronk, Information Technology Director
Jennifer Herman, Finance Officer
Nolan Jarvis, EMS Director


The Alexander County Board of Commissioners held a budget work session on Monday, June 9, 2003 in the Catawba Valley Community College / Alexander Center Multipurpose Room, Taylorsville, North Carolina.


Chairman Robertson called the meeting to order at 6:05 PM.


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


Chairman Robertson requested the addition of a Closed Session to discuss personnel issues pursuant to N.C.G.S. 143-318.11(a)(6).

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.


Rick French, County Manager, discussed the 2003-2004 Alexander County proposed budget, which included revisions that had been made to several departmental budgets due to recent discussions during budget work sessions. The following budget issues were discussed:

    1. Mr. French stated that he and Jennifer Herman, Finance Director, had met with Sheriff Hayden Bentley regarding the Sheriff’s Department budget. Mr. French informed the Board that funding for mandatory training had been added to the Sheriff’s Department budget as well as funding for a copier lease. Mr. French also noted that the Sheriff’s Department was not awarded the grant for the narcotics dog; therefore, Mr. French was able to eliminate the County’s required match for the grant totaling $17,551.
    2. Mr. French stated that he had originally proposed 2 new positions in the Jail budget. Mr. French explained that after reviewing the Jail budget, he would recommend that the 2 new positions begin effective January 1, 2004 instead of July 1, 2003. This would save $21,242. Mr. French also stated that he had reduced the savings relating to the Pre-Trial Release from 75% to 45% on the Medical Supplies, Food Provisions, and Contracted Detention Services line items.
    3. Mr. French stated that he had replaced funding for salaries in the Library budget as requested by Doris Stephens, Library Director. However, Mr. French explained that the funding would be set aside so that the new Library Director could look at the situation in order to make a recommendation to the Board in regard to changing the schedule and restoring staff hours. Mr. French noted that replacing the funding, although set aside, would allow the Library to meet the requirements to receive State aid.
    4. Mr. French stated that approximately $7,500 was added to the Animal Control budget for a euthanization chamber as well as approximately $2,000 for contracted service fees for Caldwell County through September 2003.
    5. Mr. French stated that $6,085 was added in the Veterans Service budget for the purchase of veteran’s flag holders.
    6. Mr. French discussed the recommendation by Dennie Martin, McGill Associates, to increase water rates between 5% and 10%. Mr. French recommended an 8% increase, which would take into account the 2.4% CPI increase from the City of Hickory. Mr. French also recommended reducing the capacity charge as part of the water tap fees in order to make the tap fee more competitive. Mr. French proposed that these changes be effective August 1, 2003.
    7. Mr. French stated that the Construction & Demolition (C & D) rate of $22.15 would be eliminated and all rates would be $44.30 at the Landfill. This will generate additional funding for the Solid Waste fund.
    8. At this time, Commissioner Bolick entered the meeting. The time was 6:10 PM.

    9. Mr. French stated that the 911 charge would increase from 68 cents to 80 cents in order to produce revenue to assist in the purchase of new radio equipment connecting to the communications consolidation project.
    10. Mr. French informed the Board that he had met with Nolan Jarvis, EMS Director, this afternoon regarding the EMS budget. Mr. French stated that there were still some unresolved issues that would be further addressed.
    11. Mr. French stated that he had not added any additional funding into the Rescue Squad budget as requested. Mr. French explained that the County would possibly be receiving an insurance settlement of which funding could be taken from and placed in the Rescue Squad budget.
    12. Mr. French stated that he had reduced the projected revenues from the half-cent sales tax from $1 million to $900,000.

Commissioner Keever asked if the County would have a balanced budget with what had been proposed. Mr. French replied that the County would, in fact, have a balanced budget for 2003-2004. Commissioner Keever also inquired about the current Fund Balance. Mr. French stated that staff projected a 7% Fund Balance by the end of the 2002-2003 budget year.

Chairman Robertson asked if Mr. French had received any confirmation in regard to the benefit of Medicaid reimbursements from the State. Mr. French stated that he had received some information but he noted that the numbers had not been confirmed. Mr. French stated that it appeared that Alexander County would receive and 8% reduction in Medicaid costs, which would result in a savings of $110,000.

Commissioner Odom asked if funding had been placed in the 2003-2004 budget to purchase an AED for the Hiddenite Station 2 Gwaltney’s Fire Department. Mr. French replied that the AED had already been addressed in the current budget.

Sheriff’s Department / Jail Budget

Hayden Bentley, Sheriff, stated that he had met with Mr. French and Ms. Herman regarding the Sheriff’s Department and Jail budgets. Mr. Bentley felt that the Sheriff’s Department budget was workable as proposed unless a major catastrophe occurred.

Mr. Bentley discussed several concerns that he still had with the proposed Jail budget and he presented figures that showed that the proposed budget was $14,737 short of what he felt was needed. Mr. Bentley also stated that he had included $5,000 in his original budget request for transporting of which the proposed budget did not include. Mr. Bentley explained that jail staff and part-time deputies completed 3 or 4 transports per week to Caldwell County as well as transports for Superior Court 6 or 7 times per year. Mr. Bentley stated that no funding for transporting had been figured into the salary line item and he requested that the Board reconsider this issue.

Mr. Bentley also discussed the Pre-Trial Release Program and the reduction of savings from 75% to 45%. Mr. Bentley felt that 45% was too high of a percentage and he stated that 20% was more realistic. Mr. Bentley mentioned that he wanted to be assured that the Board would understand if he had to come back later in the year and request additional funding for these line items.

Mr. Bentley informed the Board that the Alexander County jail was one of the oldest jails in the state. Mr. Bentley requested that the Courthouse Task Force begin meeting and reviewing this issue in order to have some pre-planning completed before the State mandated improvements to the jail. Chairman Robertson agreed.

Commissioner Keever suggested reinstating the convenience site fees to $1.00 to everyone for the first 3 bags and $2.00 for individuals that do not recycle and adjusting the fees otherwise. Commissioner Keever stated that this would generate approximately $130,000, which would offset the Solid Waste fund shortfall. Commissioner Keever also suggested an effective date of August 1, 2003, which would allow time to notify the public.

Mr. Bentley informed the Board that a bill had been introduced regarding the fees paid for civil process. Mr. Bentley explained that a person currently paid $5 to have a paper served. The bill proposes to increase that fee to $15 to have a paper served. Mr. Bentley suggested that the Board contact Representative Edgar Starnes and Senator R.B. Sloan to request their support of this bill.

Commissioner Odom urged the Board to contact the City of Hickory in regard to establishing an office for citizens to pay water bills. Commissioner Odom stated that the office was one of the selling points in the water capacity agreement with the City of Hickory and he felt that this issue needed to be addressed along with the pending increase in water rates.

Chairman Robertson thanked all County staff, department heads, and elected officials for their support and patience during the last several budget years, which had been difficult due to State budget cuts. Chairman Robertson stated that he appreciated the effort given by everyone, especially Jennifer Herman, Finance Officer, and the Finance staff as well as Rick French, County Manager.


Commissioner Odom stated that his resignation as County Commissioner would be effective on Monday, June 16, 2003 at 12:00 Noon and he therefore noted that this would be his last Commissioners’ Meeting. Commissioner Odom stated that when elected in 1998 at the age of 28, he was the second youngest commissioner to be elected in the history of North Carolina. He stated that it had been a privilege to serve the citizens of Alexander County since then.

Commissioner Odom stated that he was proud of many things that had been accomplished during his tenure including the improvements to public safety as well as the new prison, which would create many jobs. He also stated that no one could ever ask for better staff than that of Alexander County. Commissioner Odom also mentioned the oldest County employee, Chester White, who is over 80 years old and still comes to work every day with a smile on his face.

Commissioner Odom stated that it had been a wonderful experience to serve on the Board with some fine men and he noted that even though they didn’t always agree they still remained friends. Commissioner Odom stated that he learned something from each commissioner that he had served with but he noted that he had learned the most from Chairman Robertson, for whom he had great respect. He stated that Chairman Robertson knew how to put his political affiliation aside when doing County business and he felt that Chairman Robertson was a good example and role model for future commissioners.

Commissioner Odom felt that his experience as a County Commissioner would be an asset during his employment as Town Manager. He also noted that his reason for taking the Town Manager position was so he could spend more time with and focus more on his wife, son, and expected child. Commissioner Odom felt that the County Commissioner position was more appropriate for someone whose children were grown because of the requirement to attend so many meetings in the evenings.

Commissioner Odom stated that his advice to anyone seeking the office of county commissioner would be to remain honest, admit when you’re not able to do something, and to always try. Commissioner Odom thanked his family for always being supportive and God for allowing him this opportunity. Commissioner Odom stated that he would be eternally grateful to the citizens of Alexander County for allowing him the chance to be a leader and he wished everyone Godspeed.

Chairman Robertson stated that he sincerely respected Commissioner Odom and he noted that he had enjoyed working with him. Chairman Robertson stated that the Board would be losing some expertise because Commissioner Odom was very knowledgeable about emergency services issues. Chairman Robertson wished Commissioner Odom well with his new job and he wished Commissioner Odom’s family the best of luck as well.

At this time, Chairman Robertson made a motion to declare Commissioner Odom’s computer as surplus equipment and allow him to maintain the computer as well as his connection to the Internet through the County as other commissioner’s have done. Commissioner Keever seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

Commissioner Bolick stated that he had the opportunity to serve with Commissioner Odom on 2 separate occasions on the Board of Commissioners. Commissioner Bolick felt that Commissioner Odom was a fair man because he never made any ill-mannered remarks about him while they were campaigning against each other. Commissioner Bolick stated that he appreciated serving on the Board with Commissioner Odom.

Commissioner Hammer stated that each commissioner brought something different to the Board and he noted that Commissioner Odom had expertise in emergency services. Commissioner Hammer stated that he respected Commissioner Odom for thinking of his family first and he wished him well with his new job.

Commissioner Keever stated that he had enjoyed working with Commissioner Odom and he noted that he respected Commissioner Odom because he was always a gentleman. Commissioner Keever stated that he and Commissioner Odom didn’t always agree but they disagreed without animosity and for that he was appreciative.


Rick French, County Manager, presented a draft copy of the by-laws for the Alexander County Economic Development Council for the Board’s review.

Chairman Robertson requested discussion of the by-laws at the August 4, 2003 Commissioners’ Meeting. The Board agreed.

CLOSED SESSION – N.C.G.S. 143-318.11(a)(6) PERSONNEL

Commissioner Hammer made a motion to enter into Closed Session at 6:55 PM to discuss personnel issues pursuant to N.C.G.S. 143-318.11(a)(6). Commissioner Keever seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.


There being no further business, Commissioner Odom made a motion to adjourn at 7:15 PM. Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.



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