December 5, 2000
The Alexander County Board of Commissioners held their monthly meeting on Tuesday, December 5, 2000 in the Commissioners Room in the Alexander County Courthouse, Taylorsville, North Carolina.
CALL TO ORDER
Chairman Watts called the meeting to order at 6:50 PM. No citizens asked to speak at the Peoples Agenda.
Rev. Ray Ohlendorf from Salem Lutheran Church gave the invocation and Nichole Friday from East Junior High School led the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.
At this time, Chairman Watts recognized Commissioner William Hammer who was elected to the Alexander County Board of Commissioners on November 7, 2000. Commissioner Hammer stated that he was looking forward to serving on the Board and would do his best to serve the citizens of Alexander County.
Chairman Watts stated that a letter was received from Helen P. Anthony requesting a donation from the County, Town, and local churches to be given to the Alexander Chamber of Commerce for transportation, food, and a donation to the Winston Salem State University Band. WSSU will be participating in the Annual Christmas Parade. Chairman Watts stated that funds were budgeted to the Chamber of Commerce during the budget process for this type of contribution.
Russell Greene, Fire Marshal, gave a special report on the public protection classification for the Town of Taylorsville and Central Alexander Fire Department. Formerly a Class 7 and 7/9 applied. The new classification of a Class 6 will be effective February 1, 2001. The new classification will result in a decrease in property insurance within the Town and Fire districts. Mr. Greene stated that in order to qualify for the lower rate, the Central Alexander Fire Department was graded on a point system for several items including the ability to receive and dispatch alarms, water system, truck types and truck pump capacity, equipment on trucks, mutual aid from surrounding fire departments, training, and hydrant maintenance. Points are awarded for each item. Mr. Greene thanked Fire Chief Keith Mundy and the Taylorsville Firemen for their hard work and many hours spent on the survey. Mr. Greene also congratulated these individuals as well as the community on the new rating.
ADOPTION OF AGENDA
Chairman Watts stated that several sets of minutes were to be added to the agenda under Consent Agenda for approval. These minutes included October 10, 2000 joint work session with the Planning and Zoning Commission, October 30, 2000 work session with Jim Powell with ADW Architects, and November 28, 2000 Commissioners Meeting.
Commissioner Harbinson stated he would like to add discussion on District Representation under Other Business.
Commissioner Odom made a motion to adopt the agenda as presented with additions to the Consent Agenda and Other Business. Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
ELECTION OF CHAIRMAN
Chairman Watts commented on his term as Board Chairman and stated that the level of commitment certainly increased as Chairman and felt that it had been a rewarding and challenging experience.
Commissioner Harbinson conveyed his appreciation to Chairman Watts and mentioned several organizations and causes that Chairman Watts has been involved in including the Alexander Community Hospital, Catawba Valley Community College, and the Board of Education. Commissioner Harbinson stated that many great things have occurred since Mr. Watts became Chairman.
Commissioner Robertson stated that he appreciated Chairman Watts hard work and dedication during the past year.
Commissioner Odom stated that is had been a pleasure serving with Chairman Watts and felt that the school children and the Alexander Community Hospital has greatly benefited thanks to the efforts put forth by Chairman Watts.
Chairman Watts expressed his appreciation for the comments and assistance given by his fellow commissioners during his term as Chairman and stated that would continue to be the Boards liaison to the Board of Education.
At this time, Commissioner Harbinson nominated Commissioner Odom to serve as Chairman.
There being no other nominations, Commissioner Robertson made a motion to close nominations and approve election of Commissioner Odom as Chairman. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Chairman Odom stated that he felt it was an honor to serve as Chairman and that being a County Commissioner was a learning experience. Chairman Odom committed to doing his best as Chairman and stated that every Chairman needed a good Vice-Chairman to stand in his place when needed.
ELECTION OF VICE-CHAIRMAN
At this time, Commissioner Watts nominated Commissioner Harbinson to serve as Vice-Chairman.
There being no other nominations, Commissioner Robertson made a motion to close nominations and approve election of Commissioner Harbinson as Vice-Chairman. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
PUBLIC HEARING: APPROVAL OF ROAD NAMES
Lisa Harrington, 911 Addressing Coordinator, conducted the public hearing for approval of the following road names:
Ms. Harrington stated that all road names had been checked for duplication and sound indexing and no calls have been received regarding the road names.
There being no public comment, Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to close the public hearing. Commissioner Watts seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Watts made a motion to approve the proposed road names. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
PUBLIC HEARING: TEXT AMENDMENT 00-9: SECTION 156.002(F)
Sylvia Turnmire, Director of Planning & Development, conducted the public hearing for approval of Text Amendment 00-9: Section 156.002(F). This amendment is requested for singlewide manufactured homes. The deletions are double underlined and the additions are in bold type as follows:
Ms. Turnmire stated that this amendment would allow Alexander County citizens to move
pre-1976 singlewide manufactured homes within the County. Ms. Turnmire stated that any manufactured homes located in the County for sale at the time of adoption of this ordinance, that do not meet the Alexander County Appearance Criteria, may be sold in the County if a list of the non-conforming homes are submitted within 30 days after the effective date of this ordinance.
Commissioner Robertson stated his concerns for approving this text amendment. Commissioner Robertson stated that these types of manufactured homes are a fire hazard and did not want the County to be held responsible for loss of life or property because of fire or damage caused during the transporting of the manufactured home from one location to another. Commissioner Robertson felt that moving such manufactured homes would increase danger to the homeowner and suggested tabling this item until further information is available.
Commissioner Harbinson stated that these manufactured homes are already unsafe and saw no problem with allowing citizens to move them. Commissioner Harbinson also stated that the Board knew that the Ordinance would have to be "tweaked" from time to time and felt moving the manufactured homes would cause no additional problems and that no one should be restricted from moving them.
At this time, Wanda Wike approached the Board and stated that she purchased a manufactured home in 1998 for rental property. She placed the manufactured home on property that she rented from another individual. At a later date, the individual passed away, and now the family wishes to sell the property. Ms. Wike would like to move her manufactured home to another location. Her parents live at the beach and are in poor health and she would like to move them into her manufactured home so she can care for them. Due to the Alexander County Appearance Criteria, Ms. Wike cannot move her manufactured home. Ms. Wike has all records including when power was connected and disconnected, tax records, etc.
Commissioner Watts asked Ms. Turnmire if an inspection of the manufactured home would be performed after it had been moved to determine if any damages or additional danger had been imposed during transportation. Ms. Turnmire stated that an inspection would be performed and inspectors would go by the set-up manual. Plumbing, heating and air, underpinning and decks, and electrical wiring will be inspected. Ms. Turnmire stated that currently the Fire Marshal is not included in these inspections.
Commissioner Robertson stated that these manufactured homes were equipped with aluminum wiring. Ms. Turnmire stated that this would be inspected.
Commissioner Hammer also stated that these manufactured homes were a major fire hazard and that he had one to be damaged during Hurricane Hugo. Due to the damages, he ignited the manufactured home. Commissioner Hammer explained how the manufactured home was disintegrated within 5 minutes.
Chairman Odom stated that he felt that a citizen should be able to move their home if they want and felt that the County should allow them to do so.
Commissioner Robertson stated that moving these manufactured homes would cause them to be unsafe and felt that the Ordinance should be left as is and a provision be made that identifies the HUD requirements. Commissioner Robertson that these issues could be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and citizens could possibly sign a waiver stating that they were aware of the hazards involved.
There being no further 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 Robertson made a motion to deny Text Amendment 00-9: Section 156.002(F) and allow a provision to identify HUD requirements. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted 2 for the motion (Commissioners Hammer and Robertson) and 3 against the motion (Commissioners Harbinson, Odom, and Watts). Motion failed. Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to approve the Text Amendment 00-9: Section 156.002(F). Commissioner Watts seconded the motion. The Board voted 3 for the motion (Commissioners Harbinson, Odom, and Watts) and 2 against the motion (Commissioners Hammer and Robertson). Motion carried.
FUNDING REQUEST FROM A NON-BUDGETED ORGANIZATION HUMAN RELATIONS COUNCIL
Lucy Allen, Chairperson for Alexander County Human Relations Council, presented a funding request of $500. The funding will be used for Diversity Training, long distance phone calls, copies, food for luncheon meetings, etc. Ms. Allen stated that the Human Relations Council has received $500 from the Town of Taylorsville as well as the Martin Luther King Commission and that the Council will be asking for a continuing contribution yearly during the budget cycle.
Commissioner Robertson inquired about the Diversity Training and when it was scheduled to be held. Ms. Allen stated that a definite date has not be set but should take place sometime in February or March. Tim Tarleton will be holding the training.
Commissioner Watts suggested that Ms. Allen inform Jim Riley, Alexander County Human Resources Director, of further training so that he may determine if it will be beneficial to County employees. Commissioner Harbinson stated that the Board looks down on mid-budget contributions but felt that this one could be allowed seeing that the Town of Taylorsville contributed.
Commissioner Watts made a motion to approve the contribution of $500 to the Alexander County Human Relations Council. Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
REPORT ON CENTRAL PARK
Dale Clary, Board of Education member, expressed his appreciation to the Board of Commissioners as well as his fellow Board of Education members for their hard work and cooperation during the current ongoing projects.
Jack Hoke, Associate Superintendent, presented a slide show and an update on the following projects:
Mr. Hoke stated that a special event will be held for the opening of Central Park. In March, a softball game will be played between Lenior Rhyne University and Pheiffer University. A tennis tournament will be held at a later date. Mr. Hoke also suggested a Home Run Derby Match between the Board of Commissioners and the Board of Education.
CONSIDERATION OF THE COUNTY AUDIT REPORT FOR 1999-2000 FISCAL YEAR
Brian Starnes, Martin Starnes & Associates, presented the Audit Report for 1999-2000 and stated that these figures were as of June 30, 2000. Martin Starnes & Associates currently serves 5 counties, Pitt County being the largest. Mr. Starnes presented a slide show and briefly explained some items included in the audit report such as fund balances, property taxes, expenditures, revaluation, etc. Mr. Starnes commented on the landfill fund and the water fund. Mr. Starnes stated that Alexander County was in pretty good shape and recommended that the County Attorney get proactive on liens and seizures.
Commissioner Watts made a motion to approve the Audit Report for 1999-2000. Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
CONSIDERATION OF WATER AGREEMENT: ALEXANDER COUNTY/CITY OF HICKORY
Commissioner Robertson stated that this water agreement has been in the process for several months. Rick French, County Manager, and Commissioners Robertson and Watts have met with the City of Hickory water officials regarding the agreement.
The proposed water agreement between Alexander County and the City of Hickory will provide a second source of water to Alexander County. The line will run along Highway 16 South and cross Oxford Dam Bridge. Pumps will be installed and will provide more volume in the center part of the County. An upgrade connection will also be installed at Rink Dam Road that will provide a backup system. Ground storage capacity will be installed for reserves in the Western part of the County. The City of Hickory will provide installation, maintenance, and meter reading. The City of Hickory is investing $1 million capital to install this system. In order to recover their investment, the contract will be set for 20 years and water rates will be adjusted.
Commissioner Robertson explained that in the past, state and federal grants were relied upon to install water lines, but those grants have disappeared. Therefore, we must purchase water from another source. Commissioner Robertson stated that the County can treat the water system as an enterprise system that will generate revenue for upgrades such as pumps, lines, and storage facilities. Commissioner Robertson stated that he felt the agreement was fair and equitable for the Countys needs.
Commissioner Watts stated that he has taken many calls from citizens requesting water over the past 2 years and felt this agreement was what was needed to provide water to the County. Commissioner Watts stated that he would also like a single rate charge for all citizens ASAP. Commissioner Watts stated that in order to expand the system, the water rates would increase but felt that this would be better than tapping into ad valorem taxes.
Rick French, County Manager, explained that many studies have been done and meetings have taken place to determine the best plan for the Alexander County water system. A water study was done by Pierson & Whitman and was presented at the 2000 Commissioners Retreat held in January 2000. Chester West, West & Associates, has also studied the Countys system. Budget work sessions have been held to discuss water and several meetings with the City of Hickory officials have taken place.
Mr. French stated that the City of Hickory can provide Alexander County with 2.5 million gallons of water per day. The current rate will be $1.12 per thousand gallons. The bulk rate will be $1.40 per thousand gallons. The minimum monthly rate for customers will be $15.20 with $2.40 for every 1,000 gallons extra with a maximum rate of $20.00 per month.
Agreements will also have to be made with Energy United Water Corporation, Town of Taylorsville, and Caldwell County. This agreement does not include the Bethlehem system. The County currently has a billing and collection agreement with Energy United that includes a 6-month notice that will need to be worked out.
Commissioner Harbinson stated that the Pierson & Whitman water study clearly states that the best solution for Alexander Countys water needs would be to contract with the City of Hickory to purchase water and run lines along Highway 16 South install an upgrade system at and Rink Dam Road. Commissioner Harbinson felt that this was the best plan for Alexander County and that it was crucial that the agreement be approved.
Commissioner Hammer stated that he felt it was well worth it to pay a little more on your water bill in order to have a good water system. Commissioner Harbinson stated that he personally didnt like the agreement for the simple fact that he would like for Alexander County to have its own water plant and provide its own water to the citizens. Commissioner Hammer stated that he knew that wasnt possible and therefore felt this agreement would be best for the County.
Chairman Odom thanked Mr. French and Commissioners Robertson and Watts for the effort put forth to find the best plan for the County. Chairman Odom stated that this was a good agreement and that the rates were fair but felt that more time was needed before making a final decision. Chairman Odom stated that he had 7 days to look over the agreement in order to make a decision and felt that at least a month was needed. Chairman Odom stated that he did not want to rush into anything this important and also felt that a public hearing should be held to gain public comment on the issue.
Commissioner Harbinson responded to Chairman Odoms comments by stating that negotiating an agreement was something that the entire Board decided to do months ago and that this was the best agreement for the Countys needs. Commissioner Harbinson stated that it was the Board of Commissioners responsibility to do what is best for the County, that no one was rushing the agreement, and that it was important to look at the Countys long term needs for our children.
At this time, Commissioner Robertson made a motion to approve the water agreement between Alexander County and the City of Hickory. Commissioner Watts seconded the motion. The Board voted 4 for the motion (Commissioners Hammer, Harbinson, Robertson, and Watts) and 1 against the motion (Commissioner Odom). Motion carried.
Commissioner Watts advised Mr. French to negotiate agreements and settle contracts of any outstanding items with Energy United, Town of Taylorsville, and Caldwell County. No definite effective date was set, but February will be negotiated.
CONSIDERATION OF PROPOSAL FOR ALEXANDER COUNTY LIBRARY AUTOMATION
Doris Stephens, Library Director, informed the Board that 4 Request for Proposals (RFPs) for an Integrated Library System were received. During a meeting with Rob McGee, RMG Consultants Inc., the proposals were compared. Attending the meeting was Ms. Stephens, Greg Cronk, IT Director, and Rick French, County Manager. The 2 lowest bidders were Epixtech and SIRSI. Both bidders made site visits and demonstrated their products. On November 30, 2000, the Library Board of Trustees met and unanimously approved to contract with Epixtech.
The Epixtech bid was $96,395 and the SIRSI bid was $95,357. Epixtech is a little higher but is a better deal because SIRSI only provides one server. Epixtech provides a data server and web server. Greg Cronk, IT Director, explained the importance of the servers to the Board. Ms. Stephens stated that Epixtech was more user friendly also. The Integrated Library System will be purchased with the recent grant received which totaled $108,000.
Commissioner Robertson made a motion to approve the proposal from Epixtech. Commissioner Watts seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Robertson advised Ms. Stephens that reasons for choosing a higher bidder should be documented and reviewed by Ed Hedrick, County Attorney. Commissioner Robertson, as well as Mr. French, expressed their thanks to Ms. Stephens for her research of grants and dedication to the Library.
Commissioner Harbinson inquired about the $40,000 gift to the Library from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Ms. Stephens stated that it had been received. Commissioner Harbinson suggested that Chairman Odom write a letter to Bill Gates thanking him for his gift and also to present him with a Key to the County.
PROPOSED 2001 COUNTY COMMISSIONERS MEETING SCHEDULE
Commissioner Harbinson presented the 2001 David S. Odom "Back to School" Meeting Schedule. Each month, except June and July, the Board will hold the monthly Commissioners meeting at a school within the County.
Commissioner Watts stated that he has been in contact with the Board of Education who stated that there may be some conflicts with the dates. Commissioner Watts suggested having the January 9, 2001 Commissioners Meeting in the Commissioners Room in the Alexander County Courthouse as usual until further negotiations have been made with the Board of Education and surrounding schools. Information should be provided at the January 9, 2001 meeting.
Commissioner Hammer suggested reconsidering meeting at every school. Some meetings may run late and someone will have to stay at the school or come back at night to make sure it is locked up which could possibly be an inconvenience.
Commissioner Watts made a motion to table this item until the January 9, 2001 Commissioners Meeting which will be held in the Commissioners Room. Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
COUNTY MANAGERS REPORT
Rick French, County Manager, gave the County Managers report which included a position request from Linney Rogers, Cooperative Extension Director. Maryanne Winchell will be retiring from the Cooperative Extension office this month. Her position is currently a 2/3 County and State position but will eliminated by the State soon. Mr. Rogers would like the position to remain available and become a 100 % County position. A letter from Mr. Rogers request was distributed to each member of the Board.
At this time, Commissioner Robertson recognized Meredith Moore, an Appalachian State University Student. Ms. Moore is a Social Work major and attended the Commissioners Meeting as a course requirement. The Board welcomed Ms. Moore and invited her to attend other Commissioners Meetings.
Commissioner Harbinson stated that he wished to discuss the District Representation Plan and would like to propose the following:
Commissioner Harbinson stated that he and Commissioner Robertson have not met to discuss the Plan but plan to in the near future. Commissioner Harbinsons proposal will be included on the January 9, 2001 agenda.
Commissioner Watts stated that he, as well as the County Administration Office, has received calls from Little River residents inquiring about when they will be getting County water from the Little River CDBG Grant. The bids for the water project will be opened on December 14, 2000 at 2:00 PM and the contract is scheduled to be awarded at the January 9, 2001 Commissioners Meeting. The lines will be installed after the contract is awarded.
Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to approve the Consent Agenda. Commissioner Watts seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
There being no further business, Commissioner Watts made a motion to adjourn at 9:40 PM. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
John S. Watts, Chairman Jamie C. Millsaps, Clerk to the Board