The Alexander County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution to consolidate county water and sewer funds at their November 6th meeting. County Manager Shane Fox said the consolidation is more practical and efficient for budgeting and accounting purposes.
In 1981, commissioners adopted a resolution to create the Bethlehem Water District and the Highway 16 South Water District. In 1986, the Sugarloaf Water District was created. Debt was issued for all three water districts in the 1980s and 1990s in the form of water bonds, which have all been paid in full. In fiscal year 2010, the Highway 16 South and Sugarloaf water funds were combined into a single fund called the County Water & Sewer Fund for budgeting and accounting purposes. The Bethlehem Sewer Fund was created in fiscal year 2011 when the county began receiving sewer revenue from the City of Hickory.
Fox said that all outstanding water and sewer debt is issued under Alexander County’s name and tax identification number, so it makes sense to consolidate the water and sewer funds.
“This will be a more concise approach with more transparency on how things are being reported,” Fox said.
With the adopted resolution, all assets, liabilities, and fund balance of the Bethlehem Water Fund (a total of $7,777,773.30) and Bethlehem Sewer Fund (a total of $6,718,608.04) will be transferred to the County Water & Sewer Fund as outlined in an associated budget amendment.
Fox said that Alexander County has approximately 6,000 water and sewer customers.
In other business:
• Following closed session, commissioners unanimously voted to deny the bid for the Alexander Housing Our Teachers project at 16 West Main Avenue in Taylorsville (former Chamber of Commerce building). The bid that was received in October was more than $1 million, with only $750,000 budgeted for the project, which includes a $650,000 Rural Transformation Grant from the NC Department of Commerce Rural Economic Development Division and a $100,000 county match. The project involves the renovation of a ground-floor commercial space with two one-bedroom apartments on the second floor that will be designed to attract teachers. The project will be rebid in the near future.
• Commissioners approved a proclamation in support of Operation Green Light for Veterans, as presented by Veteran Services Officer Cherry Kilby. The proclamation expresses the county’s support of veterans who have selflessly served their country and our community, especially those who are transitioning from active service. The county administration building, services center, and courthouse park will be illuminated in green through November 12. Residents and businesses are also encouraged to shine a green light in support of local veterans.
• Zack Shepherd, Community Relations Regional Director for Vaya Health, presented an update to the board. He provided an update on NC Department of Health & Human Services activities, noting that the 2023-2025 NC General Assembly budget directed NCDHHS to reduce LME/MCOs (mental health agencies) to no more than five (5) and no fewer than four (4) across the state. Shepherd said that NCDHHS Secretary Kody Kinsley directed the dissolution of Sandhills LME/MCO, with Rockingham County being assigned to Vaya Health. He also announced that the Consolidated Innovations Waiver dashboard has been released to assist intellectually or developmentally disabled persons with in-home care. Medicaid expansion will go live on December 1. Shepherd outlined funding related to mental health services in the recently approved state budget. He also discussed “Pathways to Permanency,” which is Vaya’s foster care recruitment campaign and associated training opportunities. For more information, visit www.vayahealth.com.
• In the County Manager’s Report, Shane Fox said that the Taylorsville Apple Festival was a success. He expressed his appreciation to everyone involved in planning and safety for the event.
The Alexander Soil & Water Conservation District held its 30th Annual Environmental Field Days on October 25-26 at Herman Dairy Farm. Approximately 400 fifth-grade students attended the event. Fox expressed his appreciation to everyone who played a role in making the field days a success.
He said that Medicaid expansion will begin on December 1st in North Carolina, with approximately 2,000 more Alexander County residents who will be eligible for benefits.
Fox said the county’s new comprehensive plan is almost complete and will be presented to the board in early 2024. He said the new plan will be instrumental in planning for the county’s future.
He said the 2022-2023 audit was submitted on Monday, with no findings. The audit will be presented at the December meeting.
Fox said the Post-Overdose Recovery Team/Community Paramedic program is experiencing success in its early stages. He said there have been 17 overdoses and one death in the past 60 days in Alexander County; however, one client was successfully admitted to a recovery program and another client is expected to begin treatment this week.
• The board approved the 2024 meeting schedule, with meetings set for January 8, February 5, March 4, April 8, April 22 (budget work session), May 6, May 20, June 3, June 17, July 15, August 5, September 2, October 7, November 4, and December 2. All meetings are scheduled for 6:00 p.m. at the CVCC Alexander Center for Education (room #103).
• The board approved the 2024 holiday schedule, which includes New Year’s Day on January 1, Martin Luther King Jr. birthday on January 15, Good Friday on March 29, Memorial Day on May 27, Independence Day on July 4, Labor Day on September 2, Veterans Day on November 11, Thanksgiving on November 28-29, and Christmas on December 23-25.
• Commissioners approved a budget amendment to move $39,950 in budgeted funds from two departments to the administration department for the deployment and first-year costs of new procurement software. The amendment also increases the Sheriff’s Office budget by $16,280 to purchase rifle plates to go in bullet-proof vests using funds that were received in a prior fiscal year from the Unauthorized Substance Tax.
• Commissioners appointed Vicki Martin to serve a three-year term on the Western Piedmont Council on Aging.
The next meeting of the Alexander County Board of Commissioners is scheduled for Monday, December 4 at 6:00 p.m. at the CVCC Alexander Center for Education (room #103). Meetings are recorded and can be viewed on the county’s Government Channel on Spectrum channel 192 or the county’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/alexandercountync. Meeting agendas, minutes, videos, and more are available on the county’s website at https://alexandercountync.gov/commissioners.