Draft

BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS 

ALEXANDER COUNTY

SPECIAL CALLED MEETING

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA

June 21, 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

 

The Alexander County Board of Commissioners held a special called meeting on Thursday, June 21, 2001 in the Commissioners’ Room in the Alexander County Courthouse, Taylorsville, North Carolina.

CALL TO ORDER

Chairman David Odom called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM.

INVOCATION AND PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

Commissioner Joel Harbinson gave the invocation and Commissioner John Watts led the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

ADOPTION OF AGENDA

Commissioner Watts noted that Budget Amendment #37 was to be added to the agenda under Agenda Item #6 (FY 2001-2002 Budget Ordinance). Commissioner Watts made a motion to adopt the agenda as amended. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

PUBLIC HEARING: COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT (CDBG)

Nancy Coley, WPCOG Community Development Administrator, conducted the public hearing to discuss a potential CDBG Infrastructure application to be submitted to the NC Department of Commerce. The application proposed to install approximately 25,500 feet of waterline, taps, and household connections to serve 105 households on portions of Liledoun Road, Sipe Road, Herman Road, and Rink Dam Road. The proposed project requests $794,000 in CDBG funds.

Ms. Coley informed the Board that staff of the WPCOG conducted a door-to-door income and needs survey. The survey revealed that the percentage of low and moderate income households in Alexander was 93 % and the need for public water was severe. The survey also revealed that there were 15 cases of shared wells and springs and the wells of 2 households were completely dry. Two houses were vacant due to no water. There were 48 wells that were tested for bacterial contamination and PH levels for acidity and 18 wells tested positive for either coliform or fecal/E. Coli contamination. Test revealed a high level of acidity in 23 wells.

Ms. Coley noted that the State used a severity factors point system to determine the severity of need for water in different areas. Commissioner Watts asked how the point system worked. Ms. Coley explained the point system and also mentioned that the State automatically determined that areas were in severe need if streams were being used for a water source.

Ms. Coley noted that $150,000 in local matching funds will be required as a portion of the grant to provide public water to these areas of Alexander County and that the project would be a step towards connecting the Bethlehem and Highway 16 South water districts.

Commissioner Harbinson asked how the funding compared to last year FY 2000-2001. Ms. Coley responded the requested local funding was the same as the last year.

Commissioner Hammer discussed the need of water and stated that he was hopeful of acquiring the CDBG grant in order to provide water along these roads.

The Board conveyed their appreciation to Ms. Coley for her dedication to Alexander County and working to acquire CDBG grants for county water.

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 CDBG Infrastructure application to be submitted to the NC Department of Commerce to install approximately 25,500 feet of waterlines, taps, and household connections on portions of Liledoun Road, Sipe Road, Herman Road, and Rink Dam Road. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

PUBLIC HEARING: FY 2001-2002 RURAL OPERATING ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (ROAP)

Patti Foster, Transportation Director, conducted the public hearing to present an application for the FY 2001-2002 Rural Operating Assistance Program (ROAP). It is the intent of the program that these funds provide additional transportation beyond the other funding sources and levels of service. Ms. Foster noted that the amount of funding tentatively allocated to Alexander County for this year was $58,505.

Ms. Foster recommended the Transportation Department to be the recipient of the EDTAP funds ($38,524), the RGP funds ($14,545), and to distribute the Work First/Employment funds ($5,436) both to the Department of Social Services and the Transportation Department. Ms. Foster gave a brief overview of the purpose of EDTAP, RGP, and Work First/Employment programs.

Commissioner Robertson noted that funding was a little higher this year which was probably due to the increase in fuel prices.

Commissioner Watts asked if the State had made a definite commitment to the funding. Ms. Foster stated that the Transportation Department was confident in receiving the funding and expected no problems or delays.

Chairman Odom mentioned the public service announcements on WACB radio which advertises services provided by the Transportation Department. Chairman Odom commended Ms. Foster and the Transportation Department on an excellent job.

Commissioner Harbinson suggested David Icenhour, Public Information Officer, organize an information show on the Transportation Department to be broadcast on the new government channel.

There being no public comment, Commissioner Watts made a motion to close the public hearing. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

Commissioner Watts made a motion to approve the application for the FY 2001-2002 Rural Operating Assistance Program (ROAP). Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

RECOMMENDATION FOR SANITARY SEWER TO SERVE ELLENDALE ELEMENTARY

Rick French, County Manager, noted that Jerry Twiggs, Engineer with West & Associates, had not arrived to present the recommendation and suggested that this item be moved to the end of the agenda. Chairman Odom accepted Mr. French’s suggestion.

BUDGET ADJUSTMENTS FOR FY 2000-2001

Rick French, County Manager, presented Budget Ordinance Amendment #37 which included amendments to several departmental budgets including Governing Body, Administration, Finance, Economic Development, Jail, and CVCC.

Mr. French stated that Solid Waste and Alexander County Schools budget amendments were not included in Budget Amendment #37 but would be presented on the July 10, 2001 Commissioners’ Meeting.

Commissioner Robertson made a motion to approve Budget Amendment #37. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

TAX REPORT

Luther Stocks, Tax Administrator, presented the Board with a tax report which reflected the status of collections for the Tax Office which included the following:

    1. The Tax Office is currently trying to implement procedures to increase the collection rate for Alexander County. Mr. Stocks noted that the collection rate had decreased due to the addition of vehicle taxes and stated that the collection rate was currently at 95 %. This is a problem statewide and not isolated to Alexander County.
    2. Staff is sending correspondence to taxpayers that have delinquent accounts to inform them of the result of not paying their taxes. Staff has submitted some accounts to Caryn Brzykcy requesting her to send letters in reference to the delinquents. The letters contain the action to be taken if the delinquents are not addressed. Staff has also submitted accounts that are over 3 years delinquent involving real estate to Ms. Brzykcy. Ms. Brzykcy has collected $87,572.28 from June 2000 to March 19, 2001.
    3. The Tax Office is trying to work with the taxpayers on their delinquents and will set a payment schedule for them.
    4. The Tax Office is in the process of garnishing wages on delinquent taxpayers. The employers are taking 10 % of the employee’s check to apply to the delinquent taxes.

As requested by Commissioner Harbinson at the June 12, 2001 work session, Mr. Stocks presented a list of the top 100 delinquent taxpayers whose taxes are delinquent for 3 years or more. Commissioner Harbinson stated that he felt the 95 % of taxpayers who pay their taxes should not have to subsidize for the 5 % of taxpayers who don’t pay their taxes. Commissioner Harbinson stated that he wanted to direct the Tax Office to take legal means necessary to collect delinquent accounts 3 years or older if not collected by June 30, 2002 with the exception of medical hardships. Commissioner Harbinson suggested that David Icenhour, Public Information Officer, place an ad in the Taylorsville Times addressing the issue and informing the public that all delinquent taxes must be paid by June 30, 2002.

Commissioner Hammer asked that clarification be made on what would be considered as medical hardships before implementation. Commissioner Harbinson suggested that on appeal, Commissioners make the final determination as to what a "hardship" is.

Commissioner Robertson asked about the payment plan. Commissioner Harbinson agreed that payment plans could be established but the taxpayers had to pay every month or legal action would be taken.

Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to direct the Tax Office to take legal action if delinquent taxes 3 years of older are not paid by June 30, 2002. Commissioner Watts seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

Mr. Stocks stated that he would send out the necessary correspondence regarding the June 30, 2002 deadline on delinquent taxes.

FY 2001-2002 BUDGET ORDINANCE

Rick French, County Manager, presented the FY 2001-2002 Budget Ordinance which included the following:

    1. Mr. French stated that included in the budget ordinance was a 3-cent tax decrease bringing the current tax rate of 65 cents down to 62 cents.
    2. There will be a 3.4 % increase in water due to the City of Hickory increase. This was included in the water agreement between Alexander County and the City of Hickory.
    3. Mr. French informed the Board that the county had not budgeted to pick up any positions that the State had previously funded and had not elected to fund in next year’s budget.
    4. Mr. French noted that the Adult Day Reporting Center would be receiving a $21,000 funding cut from the State. Anita Price, Day Reporting Center Director, is working to get the total funding.
    5. The Forestry budget totaled $33,159. This total was much less than originally proposed due to the need of a new vehicle. The county lease a new vehicle instead of purchasing a new one which lowered the Forestry budget.
    6. Starting July 1, 2001, the county will have over 20 % in Fund Balance. The State recommends that all counties leave 8 % in Fund Balance. LGC recommends 17 %. Alexander County is above average.
    7. The inventory tax reimbursements have been included in the Senate and Governor’s budget. Word has not been received regarding the House budget.

Mr. French thanked employees in Finance, Administration, and Human Resources for their extra efforts with the budget during the absence of Ken White.

Commissioner Robertson conveyed his appreciation to Mr. French and staff for their hard work during this tough budget and stated that he was very proud of the 3-cent tax decrease.

Commissioner Harbinson also conveyed his appreciation to Mr. French and stated that he was also pleased with the tax decrease. Commissioner Harbinson discussed the raising the taxes during the last 2 budget years and stated that this was done in order to increase and improve services to citizens in the county. Commissioner Harbinson discussed Alexander County’s budget in comparison with surrounding counties. Most counties in the area are raising taxes and Alexander County is the only county that is increasing school funding while at the same time decreasing the tax rate. Commissioner Harbinson also stated that some people may take issue with using part of the county’s fund balance or surplus to balance the budget, but that, like President Bush’s tax cut using the federal surplus, the county fund balance or surplus is the people’s money which should be returned to the people in the form of a tax cut, and is not the government’s to spend as they wish. Commissioner Harbinson suggested that David Icenhour, Public Information Officer, place an ad in the Taylorsville Times informing the public of the budget comparisons in the area. Commissioner Harbinson also presented a County Debt Table which listed all county debt projects, debt, and commissioner support for debt, which is attached as "Attachment 1".

Commissioner Watts asked that an amendment be made to Page 2 of the County Debt Table to state "Debts Payable From Capital Improvement Fund By Restricted Cent Sales Tax Revenues Only" since the debt is that of ACHS and the new Ellendale. Commissioner Watts stated that he was proud of the tax decrease and the third consecutive double digit increase in education funding. Commissioner Watts stated that he wanted to see a safe, friendly environment for students and possibly $1,000 per student local funding in the future.

Commissioner Hammer noted that this was his first county budget and that it was somewhat overwhelming. Commissioner Hammer thanked Mr. French and stated that he was happy with the 3-cent tax decrease.

Chairman Odom felt the budget was fair to all citizens since the recent decrease in furniture factory operation and loss of employment.

Commissioner Watts made a motion to approve the FY 2001-2002 Alexander County budget. Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

DISCUSSION OF STATE PRISON

Chairman Odom gave an update on the state prison issue by stating that the House of Representatives had discussed an additional point to the prison issue which may prevent any collection of taxes from the prison during the construction phase.

Chairman Odom stated that a delegation consisting of county and town officials went to Raleigh to speak with representatives about the need for a prison in Alexander County. Calls have also been made to many State Representatives and Senators. Chairman Odom thanked the Catawba County Manager and Board of Commissioners for the letter that was sent in Alexander County’s behalf.

Commissioner Harbinson stated that he had spoken with Council of State members Elaine Marshall, Secretary of State, and Roy Cooper, Attorney General, in the last week. Commissioner Harbinson also spoke with Beverly Perdue, Lieutenant Governor. All officials have stated that they would do all they could to help Alexander County. Commissioner Harbinson also mentioned that his son, Justin, would be a Page in the Senate for 1 week beginning on July 16, 2001. Mr. French’s son, Hunter, will be a Page in the House of Representatives during the same week. Commissioner Watts’ daughter, Nita, will serve as a Senate Page the week of August 6, 2001.

OTHER BUSINESS

Rick French, County Manger, noted several items including:

    1. A letter was received from Ken Moore, NC Senator, regarding HB 689 which makes the change in replacing the sheriff in the county that the Board requested at the April 3, 2001 Commissioners’ Meeting.
    2. The Dusty Ridge Task Force will meet on July 9, 2001 to discuss Phase 1 of the park project. The project will be coordinated by our Recreation Director, Jesse Riddle.
    3. The Landfill and Convenience Centers will be closed July 4th (Wednesday) and will reopen July 5th (Thursday). A notice will be placed in the Taylorsville Times and posted at all sites.

RECOMMENDATION FOR SANITARY SEWER TO SERVE ELLENDALE ELEMENTARY

Due to the absence of Jerry Twiggs, Mr. French proceeded with the recommendation for sanitary sewer for Ellendale Elementary School. Mr. French informed the Board that on Thursday, June 7, 2001 at 2:00 PM, bids were received for the Ellendale Elementary School sewer extension. Burke Grading & Paving, Inc. submitted the low base bid in the amount of $497,455.

Mr. French stated that bids had been reviewed and recommended that the contract be awarded to the low bidder, Burke Grading & Paving, Inc.

Commissioner Robertson inquired about chemical feed systems and asked that the contract be clarified or a section added to the base bid if needed.

Commissioner Hammer asked if residents in the Ellendale community could hook on to the system. Mr. French responded that residents could not hook on to the system due to the pressure of the system unless they were to purchase pumps for that purpose.

Commissioner Robertson made a motion to award the contract for Ellendale Elementary Sanitary Sewer extension to Burke Grading & Paving, Inc. for the low base bid in the amount of $497,455. Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

CONSENT AGENDA

  1. Budget Amendment #36.
  2. Urgent Repair Program Project Budget Ordinance.
  3. Agreement between WPCOG and Alexander County for Grant Management Assistance.
  4. GDS Franchise Agreement Renewal.
  5. Minutes from May 22, 2001 Work Session.

Commissioner Robertson made a motion to approve the Consent Agenda. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business, Commissioner Robertson made a motion to adjourn at 8:35 PM. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

 

                                                                                                           

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

 

Attachment #1

ALEXANDER COUNTY DEBT (AS OF 7/1/01)

DEBTS PAYABLE FROM WATER DISTRICT FUNDS BY WATER DISTRICT REVENUES ONLY
PROJECT DEBT COMMISSIONER SUPPORT FOR FINANCING
Bethlehem Water District $2,228,000 Prior Administrations
Bethlehem Water District $   300,000 Prior Administrations
Hwy 16 S Water District $      62,500 Prior Administrations
Sugarloaf Water Districts $   143,000 Prior Administrations
Total $2,733,500
DEBTS PAYABLE FROM SOLID WASTE FUND BY SOLID WASTE REVENUES ONLY
PROJECT DEBT COMMISSIONER SUPPORT FOR FINANCING
Transfer Station @ Landfill $   300,000 Prior Administrations
Total $   300,000
DEBTS PAYABLE FROM CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT FUND BY RESTRICTED 1/2 CENT SALES TAX REVENUES ONLY
PROJECT DEBT COMMISSIONER SUPPORT FOR FINANCING DEBT
ACHS $1,520,000 For (Watts, Harbinson, Odom, Robertson, Bolick), Against (None)                  
Ellendale Elementary $5,800,000 For (Watts, Harbinson, Odom, Robertson, Hammer), Against (None)                 
Total $7,320,000
DEBTS PAYABLE FROM GENERAL FUND BY PROPERTY TAX REVENUES ONLY
PROJECT DEBT COMMISSIONER SUPPORT FOR FUNDING
Prison/Industrial Park $     853,000 For (Watts, Harbinson, Odom, Robertson, Bolick), Against (None)                     
CVCC $    628,500 For (Watts, Harbinson, Odom, Bolick), Against (Robertson)
Sheriff Vehicles $    139,500 For (Watts, Harbinson, Odom), Against (Robertson), Absent (Bolick)      
EMS Defibrillators $       56,000 For (Watts, Harbinson, Odom, Robertson, Hammer), Against (None)                      
Total $1,677,000
TOTAL COUNTY DEBT $12,030,500
AMOUNT % OF TOTAL DEBT
County Debt Payable by Water District Revenues Only $2,733,500 22.7 %
County Debt Payable by Solid Waste Revenues Only $     300,000    2.5 %
County Debt Payable by Sales Tax Revenues Only $7,320,000 60.8 %
County Debt Payable by Property Tax Revenues Only $1,677,000 14     %
TOTAL 100  %