June 12, 2001
The Alexander County Board of Commissioners held a work session on Tuesday, June 12, 2001 at 6:00 PM in the Agriculture Extension Learning Center in the Administration Building, Taylorsville, North Carolina.
Rick French, County Manager, informed the Board that Commissioner Darrell Robertson would not be attending the work session because he was attending a school function at which his daughter would be receiving an award.
TAX COLLECTIONS UPDATE
Luther Stocks, Tax Administrator, gave an update on the tax collections in Alexander County. Mr. Stocks stated that the tax collection rate had been low for the past few years due to the combination of vehicle taxes with all other taxes. Many people choose to delay paying their vehicle taxes until they renew their tags, which brings the entire collection rate down. Mr. Stocks stated that if taxes were not paid, taxpayers were sent letters informing them that their wages could be garnished. The letters are sent by an attorney which gets more attention and better collection results. Mr. Stocks informed the Board that Caryn Brzykcy, Attorney, was handling many tax collection cases for the Tax Office. Ms. Brzykcy deals mostly in real estate accounts.
Commissioner Harbinson noted that he was not involved in the tax dealings with Ms. Bryzscky even though she is Commissioner Harbinsons associate in his private law practice. Commissioner Harbinson also stated that the fee that Ms. Brzykcy receives is determined by the Clerk of Court after the cases are closed and that Commissioner Harbinson does not even seek reimbursement for expenses incurred, either directly or indirectly, from Ms. Brzykcys handling of these matters. Ms. Brzykcy was sub-contracted by the County Attorney to handle these matters.
Mr. Stocks stated that foreclosure was needed in some cases. Approximately $90,000 was collected in foreclosure cases from June 2000 to March 2001. If a hardship case arises, Ms. Bryzcky will work with the taxpayer and file the foreclosure papers for them if necessary.
Mr. Stocks stated that approximately 150 garnishment notices had been sent for uncollected taxes during this year. The taxpayer is notified beforehand. If no response is received, notices will again be sent to the taxpayer and also their employer. The employer will then take 10% of the taxpayers payroll check until the debt is paid.
Mr. Stocks noted that collections for 2000 totaled $9,658,000 including vehicle tax, fire tax, and regular property tax.
Commissioner Harbinson suggested that Mr. Stocks provide the Board with a list of the top 100 taxpayers that owe taxes from 3 years past or more and to begin the necessary foreclosures to collect the taxes by June 30, 2002. Commissioner Harbinson suggested that this be included as part of the budget to be adopted June 21, 2001. Mr. Stocks responded he would get the list as soon as possible.
Commissioner Hammer inquired about revaluation. Mr. Stocks responded revaluation was going well. A work session has been scheduled for July 24, 2001 to set the schedule of values.
FY 2001-2002 BUDGET DISCUSSION
Mr. French stated that there were only a few changes to the proposed budget for FY 2001-2002. Mr. French noted that after reviewing the budget, he had found a reduction of $34,000 in the Health Department budget. Since there was no capital outlay budgeted, there was an additional $14,300 that could be placed in Contingency since a county garage was withdrawn from this years budget. Mr. French also noted that adjustments would possibly need to be made for the prison inspection fee revenues, depending on the status of the prison.
Mr. French noted that the City of Hickory would be increasing their water rates by 3.4% and asked if the Board wanted to increase Alexander Countys bulk rates only or to increase all water rates. Commissioner Watts felt it would be simpler to increase all rates across the board.
Chairman Odom discussed the funding of the county organizations including the Hiddenite Center and the Family Violence Prevention Council and suggested that the county fund these organizations. Chairman Odom suggested $20,000 for the Hiddenite Center and $4,000 for the Family Violence Prevention Council. Commissioner Harbinson agreed. Commissioner Hammer suggested $10,000 for the Hiddenite Center since their annual budget was over $500,000. Mr. French stated that he would try to work something into the budget.
Commissioner Watts discussed the county garage and suggested that the funding for the budget be placed in Contingency at the current time. Commissioner Watts suggested Mr. French prepare RFPs for bids from local garages for repair and maintenance of county vehicles. The county could then implement the garage in October or November if needed and have money placed in Contingency for it. Commissioner Watts felt that Commissioner Robertsons suggestion for a Fuelman card made at a previous work session was the way to go. Commissioner Hammer felt the county garage would save the county money since there are numerous county vehicles.
Mr. French noted that staff was working on closing out the year. Mr. French stated that the Solid Waste Fund was $52,000 in the black for the month of May.
Mr. French noted that after reviewing the proposed budget, he felt that the county could increase the 2-cent tax decrease by a penny for a 3-cent tax decrease. This would impact the Fund Balance slightly. It was noted that the State requires counties to leave 8% in Fund Balance, whereas the Local Government Commission (LGC) suggests 17%. Alexander County will have over 20%. The Board agreed to propose a 3-cent tax decrease.
Commissioner Hammer asked if the county would incur any extra costs if Alexander Community Hospital closed. Mr. French responded the county was not responsible for the hospitals debt. Mr. French noted that EMS may increase by approximately $200,000 if the hospital closed due to more calls and increased service and costs of providing meals for jail mates would probably increase.
Commissioner Watts suggested that the county continue to look at the possibility of increasing school funding if inventory tax reimbursements currently being withheld by the State are remitted to the county.
It was the consensus of the Board that Mr. French present the proposed budget for FY 2001-2002 as discussed with a 3-cent tax decrease. Additional monies for the school system may be appropriated pending the release of April 2000 inventories tax currently held by the State.
Mr. French stated that the budget would be in ordinance form at the June 21, 2001 meeting for consideration and that adjustments could be made in July and August as word comes in from the State on the reimbursements.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 7:00 PM.
David S. Odom, Chairman Jamie C. Millsaps, Clerk to the Board