Draft

BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS 

ALEXANDER COUNTY

WORK SESSION

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA

May 8, 2001

PRESENT: David S. Odom, Chairman
Joel C. Harbinson, Vice-Chairman
William L. Hammer
W. Darrell Robertson
John F. Watts
STAFF: Rick French, County Manager
Jamie Millsaps, Clerk to the Board
Jim Riley, Human Resources Director

 

The Alexander County Board of Commissioners held a budget work session on Tuesday, May 8, 2001 at 6:00 PM in the Agriculture Extension Learning Center in the Administrative Building, Taylorsville, North Carolina.

INTRODUCTORY COMMENTS

Chairman Odom asked that each commissioner give a statement regarding their expectations and what they wished to accomplish during the 2001-2002 budget.

Commissioner Watts felt this budget would be difficult due to the unknown factors with the State budget shortfall. Commissioner Watts also noted that he received a memo from the NC Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) urging all counties in NC to include the inventory tax reimbursements in their 2001-2002 budgets. Rick French, County Manager, stated that he would discuss this issue in more detail later in the meeting.

Commissioner Harbinson stated that he wanted every major project completed and to see a tax decrease if possible.

Commissioner Hammer stated he didn’t have any expectations since this was his first budget and was interested in observing and learning the budget process.

Chairman Odom stated that he would like to cut taxes without sacrificing any jobs.

Commissioner Robertson asked about the cost of living increase and the county garage. Mr. French stated that he would also discuss these issues in more detail later in the meeting. Commissioner Robertson stated that he would need to review all of the budget information before having any specific expectations or goals for the 2001-2002 budget.

The Board conveyed their appreciation to Rick French, County Manager, for his extra work serving as Interim Finance Officer.

FY 2001-2002 BUDGET DISCUSSION

Rick French, County Manager, presented budget books which included budget requests prepared by each department. A computer ledger was also presented which showed in detail the current budget, year-to-date information, and the 2001-2002 budget requests and recommendation. Mr. French stated that he wanted to simply review the budget information at the meeting and then have an in-depth discussion on the budget during the budget work session scheduled for May 22, 2001. A public hearing will also need to be scheduled at that time to gather public input on the budget.

Mr. French stated that the budget was a "work in progress" due to the unknowns in Raleigh which is estimating a budget shortfall of approximately $850 million. Mr. French stated that the State probably wouldn’t adopt its budget until July or August of 2001.

Mr. French noted the memo that was received from NCACC on Friday, May 4, 2001 urging all NC counties to include the full inventory tax reimbursements in their 2001-2002 budget. It is the NCACC’s belief that if counties do not include the inventory tax reimbursements in their budgets, the State will not feel obligated the allocate them.

BUDGET FACTORS

Mr. French reviewed some of the budget factors with the Board which included the following:

    1. The proposed General Fund is $21,632,230. The current General Fund is $21,219,449. This is a 2 % increase.
    2. Included in the budget is a 2-cent tax decrease.
    3. Alexander County’s share of the inventory tax reimbursement from the State totals $583,000. This has been included in the budget as a line item. If the reimbursements are allocated to NC counties, Alexander County will receive the reimbursements in 2 payments. The first payment will total $305,000 and the second will total $278,000.
    4. As of April 2001, County revenue exceeded expenditures. Tax collections are well ahead, as much as $500,000.
    5. There will be 2 less employees for 2001-2002. No capital outlay has been budgeted. A new ambulance may be purchased after the State adopts its budget in July or August. The County will have a better idea then of what type of revenue will be received from the State.
    6. There is a budget for a county garage at the Dayton building with 2 employees on staff. There is a total of $16,000 - $18,000 worth of equipment that needs to be purchased for the garage.
    7. A 2 % cost of living increase is included in the 2001-2002 budget for employees. Also included are the $250 holiday bonuses for County employees and a 10 % increase for Alexander County Schools.
    8. The Health Department and Department of Social Services will be starting a merit performance pay policy for employees. This is included in their budgets under the salaries and wages line items.
    9. Included in the budget is $100,000 for the new animal shelter. Monies have been set aside yearly for the past 4 budget years and the Animal Action League has also accrued over $100,000 to help with this project. Mr. French noted that plans for the animal shelter should be delivered to the County office very soon.

Mr. French also noted that several projects will be underway or completed during the 2001-2002 budget year including GIS, Three Forks water line, CVCC building, and the Dusty Ridge lease. Commissioner Watts informed the Board that he and Dr. Josephine Foster would be officially sworn into the CVCC Board of Trustees at their May 24, 2001 meeting. Commissioner Watts has notified CVCC officials that the Alexander County CVCC building is to be completed by August 2002.

Mr. French stated that several issues needed to be discussed at the second budget work session to be held on May 22, 2001 along with discussion of the budget. This includes designation of water districts, funding scenarios for new water lines, and grant/loan programs.

Mr. French also stated Alexander County was ahead on the census and that the Town of Taylorsville’s population had decreased by 800 in the recent census figures.

DEPARTMENTAL BUDGET INFORMATION

Mr. French reviewed several departmental budgets listed in the computer ledger and touched on a few high points. This information included the following:

Revenues

  1. The 2001 ad valorem tax will be 63 cents which is a 2-cent decrease with a 4 % growth tax base. Mr. French stated the revenues from the cent sales tax were doing very well. Alexander County receives payments of about $419,000 of the cent sales tax per quarter. Alexander County Schools get 30 % of the first cent payment and 60 % of the second cent payment for capital use. This is the source of revenue for funding both Alexander Central High School and Ellendale Elementary School projects. These projects are not funded with any property taxes.
  2. The Health Department request is slightly over 10 % for County allocations, nearly of last year’s request. The Department of Social Services expenditures will be impacted by decisions at the State level on increased Medicaid requirements.

Expenditures

  1. The Finance Department budget is less since Ken White’s salary is not included. Mr. French is currently serving as Interim Finance Officer. If Mr. White can return to work, funds will be placed back into the Finance Department budget for his salary and wages. Commissioner Robertson suggested placing funds in Contingency for Mr. White’s salary in the event that he should return.
  2. There is a slight difference in funding for the Public Buildings budget due to some reorganization of employees. In the past, several employees have worked under Public Buildings and the Solid Waste Department at the same time. Mr. French has done some reorganizing and employees are now where they are supposed to be and will be funded under the correct departmental budget.
  3. The Alexander County Garage budget totals $81,210. Staff hopes to have the garage open in October 2001 and staffed with 2 employees. Mr. French suggested a $12 - $15 hourly pay rate for these employees and also mentioned possibly participating in an automotive apprenticeship with CVCC. The garage will be responsible for oil changes, services, and minor repair work to the County vehicles.
  4. Mr. French expressed his concerns with automotive supplies due to the continuous increase in gas prices. Commissioner Robertson suggested setting up an account, or a reserve, instead of having an automotive supply line item in each departmental budget. Mr. French informed the Board that fuel is provided for County vehicles through Shell Oil Company. Commissioner Hammer asked if it would be feasible to bid out fuel service to get the best gas prices for the County vehicles. Commissioner Robertson instructed Mr. French to discuss the matter with Bill Shell, owner of Shell Oil Company.

  5. Mr. French stated that the Day Reporting Center budget would be fully funded by the State.
  6. The Fire Service budget includes some extra revenue due to the new Risk Watch program, Safe Kids Coalition, and Smart Start.
  7. The Forestry Service budget has greatly increased due to the need of a new vehicle for the Forest Ranger. Alexander County’s share of the requested funding totals $41,039. Commissioner Hammer asked if the County could pay for a new vehicle over a period of 2 or 3 years instead of all at one time. Mr. French responded he would have to look into that matter.
  8. There are currently 2 Alexander County employees that are partially funded by the State. These positions include the Secretary position in Agriculture Extension filled by Julie Campbell and the Technician position in Soil & Water Conservation filled by Tonya Mitchell. Due to the State budget shortfall, the State will not be funding any portion of these 2 positions and has requested that the County fully fund them. Mr. French stated that this could not be done. Mr. French informed the Board that he met with Linney Rogers, Agriculture Extension Director, and Dan McClure, Natural Resources Director, to discuss options for these employees. Mr. French has suggested that Ms. Stine work in the Agriculture Extension Office as well as the Planning & Development office since Brenda Sharpe will be reducing her working hours, resulting in no increase in County funding. Ms. Mitchell is qualified in the fields of buffers and air quality. Mr. French suggested that she help Sylvia Turnmire, Director of Planning & Development in these areas. Chairman Odom suggested asking Alexander County Schools to help fund Ms. Mitchell’s position since she goes to all of the schools and works with the students. Negotiations are still ongoing.
  9. The Health Department and Department of Social Services will begin a merit performance pay policy. Employees will be evaluated on a regular basis to determine who is eligible for the merit performance pay.
  10. Commissioner Hammer suggested purchasing incineraries for disposal of animal carcasses and asked that this be included in the Animal Control budget if purchased. Mr. French stated that he would check on prices.
  11. The Library budget is much less than last year due to the Bill Gates grant that was received during this current budget year.
  12. Included in the CVCC budget is funding for monthly rent which is $1,000 per month. It was suggested that Mr. French look into janitorial services for the community college building. State regulations require the County to pay for rent and utilities for this or any other community college facility.
  13. The Other Funds budget includes the Revaluation process totaling $25,000. Alexander Community Hospital will not be funded during the 2001-2002 budget. A brief discussion took place regarding revaluation and possibly going to a 4-year revaluation.
  14. In the past, organizations such as the Hiddenite Center, the Minority Council, and the Violence Prevention Grant have been funded through Special Appropriations. Mr. French stated that the Minority Council funding of $1,000 would be taken from the Personnel budget. Several suggested that action should not be taken on funding the Hiddenite Center since no request has been received and on the Violence Prevention Grant until the State adopts its budget and Alexander County staff knows what funding will be received. Commissioner Watts asked about funding for the Heritage Book. Mr. French responded it had not been added yet but would be added under Special Appropriations.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business, the budget work session was adjourned at 7:30 PM. The next budget work session will be held on Tuesday, May 22, 2001.

 

                                                                                                           

  David S. Odom, Chairman           Jamie C. Millsaps, Clerk to the Board