Draft

BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS 

ALEXANDER COUNTY

REGULAR MEETING

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA

January 8, 2002

PRESENT: Joel C. Harbinson, Chairman
William L. Hammer, Vice-Chairman
David S. Odom
W. Darrell Robertson
John F. Watts
STAFF: Rick French, County Manager
Jamie Millsaps, Clerk to the Board
David Icenhour, Public Information Director
MEDIA: Gary Herman, The Taylorsville Times
Norris Keever, WACB Radio

 

The Alexander County Board of Commissioners held its regular meeting on Tuesday, January 8, 2002 in the Commissioners’ Room of the Alexander County Courthouse, Taylorsville, North Carolina.

PEOPLES’ AGENDA

Rev. Darren Lambert, Pastor of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, inquired about the progress of the placement of historical documents, including the Ten Commandments, in Alexander County schools. Chairman Harbinson explained that it was the ultimate decision of the Board of Education to place the historical documents within the schools and that the Board of Commissioners had agreed to purchase the documents if the Board of Education granted permission to place the documents as planned. Commissioner Watts stated that the Board of Education had not discussed the issue yet but could possibly discuss it at their February meeting. Rev. Lambert asked if there would be any discussion regarding the documents at the Annual Retreat on February 1-2, 2002. Commissioner Watts stated that there could be some discussion regarding the documents at the Retreat but noted that the staff would not know for sure what type of discussion would take place with the Board of Education at the Retreat for another week or so.

There being no further public comment, Nan Campbell, Director of Social Services, and Leeanne Whisnant, Health Director, gave a report on the Child Protection and Child Fatality and Review Teams. Ms. Campbell noted that the teams were established in all 100 counties in NC to review cases of children being served by child protective services and to review child fatalities when abuse or neglect is suspected. Ms. Campbell reported that Alexander County had a slight decrease in the number of cases reported to the DSS for investigation. The agency accepted 383 reports for investigation, substantiating 141 cases. Ms. Campbell also stated that the teams reviewed 17 family cases which included over 40 children. Most cases revealed poor parenting skills, alcohol/drug addition, poverty of family and domestic violence, or lack of coping skills as contributing problems. Ms. Whisnant reported that the teams reviewed 3 child deaths. All were accidental and none were caused by negligence of the parents. Ms. Whisnant stated that the deaths included one four-wheeler accident, one accidental gun-shot wound, and one asphyxiation by drowning. Ms. Whisnant noted that the teams were taking action to inform and prevent by offering parent training classes and workshops. The teams also participated in the "Make a Difference Day for Children" and held a Child Abuse/Child Neglect vigil to recognize child deaths in NC.

CHAIRMAN’S REPORT

Chairman Harbinson gave the Chairman’s Report which included the following information:

    1. An email was received from Sylvia Turnmire, Director of Planning & Development, stating that David Craft, Centex Rooney, had applied for all permits for the new prison. Workers will be moving equipment to the Alexander Correctional Facility this week and grading will begin next week.
    2. An email was received from Jerry Cohn, Southeast Region Director of American Farmland Trust, regarding the recent discussion of the Voluntary Farmland Preservation Program. Mr. Cohn stated that he had read about the program in the Charlotte Observer and offered his support. The American Farmland Trust web site is www.farmland.org.
    3. Chairman Harbinson stated that Alexander County was mentioned in the County Lines publication for December regarding the selection of a party minority board member for Vice-Chairman. Chairman Harbinson also noted that several Alexander County projects were mentioned in County Lines including GIS, the animal shelter, and the water agreement with the City of Hickory.

CALL TO ORDER

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

INVOCATION & PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

Rev. Darren Lambert, Pastor of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, gave the invocation and Caleb Underwood, student at Taylorsville Elementary School, led the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

CITIZEN OF THE MONTH

Commissioner Odom presented the Citizen of the Month award to Steve Icenhour. Commissioner Odom stated that Steve Goble Icenhour was born on July 31, 1942 to Gertha Icenhour and Emo Goble Icenhour and has a brother named Allen Eugene Icenhour. He graduated from Taylorsville High School in 1960 and worked as a furniture upholsterer. In 1962, Mr. Icenhour married Connie Fox and together they had 2 children, Donna and Clark. They now have 3 grandchildren named Katelyn, Zachary, and Matthew Ray. Mr. Icenhour founded Icenhour garage in 1969 and expanded his business to form Alexander Trucking Co, Inc. in 1972. He is a member of Friendship Lutheran Church where he serves on the Church Council and is on the First Community Bank Advisory Board. Mr. Icenhour was a founder of the Wittenburg Volunteer Fire Department, is President of the Board of Directors, and was awarded the Fireman of the Year award in 1984 and 1995. He also helps the State with road scraping and cleaning services.

***SPECIAL RECOGNITION***

Commissioner Odom presented a plaque to Rev. Darren Lambert, Pastor of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, in honor of the 150th Anniversary of the church. Commissioner Odom read the history of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church which was organized on January 31, 1852 by a presbytery consisting of Rev. John G. Brian, Jacob Crouch, and William Pool. William Pool was made pastor and John T. Baker was made clerk. Pleasant Hill Baptist Church is situated on a ridge 1,185 feet above sea level in the heart of the Brushy Mountain orchard district.

Commissioner Odom stated that the second building, a frame structure, was erected in 1885. This was later replaced by a brick structure in 1952. In 1974, a pastorium was constructed on the church property and an educational building was added in 1981. In February 1988, a groundbreaking ceremony was held to kick off construction of a new sanctuary with a seating capacity of 400. The first worship service was held on August 6, 1989 with a dedication service held on November 5, 1989. The members held a note burning on May 5, 1993 and the church constitution and by-laws were adopted on September 11, 1994.

Commissioner Odom discussed the fire that occurred on April 21, 2001 which burned the old sanctuary and educational building. Commissioner Odom discussed how the members of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church brought drinks and snacks out to the fire fighters while they worked to extinguish the fire and noted how much it was appreciated.

ADOPTION OF AGENDA

Commissioner Hammer made a motion to postpone the discussion of Agenda Item #11 – Revaluation Resolution until the February 12, 2002 meeting and adopt the agenda as otherwise presented. Commissioner Robertson 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.

Chairman Harbinson made a motion to proceed with discussion of Agenda Item #11 – Revaluation Resolution as scheduled and adopt the agenda as presented. Commissioner Odom seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

REPORT ON BETHLEHEM INCORPORATION TASK FORCE

Bob Hopper, Bethlehem Incorporation Task Force Chairman, stated that the Bethlehem Incorporation Task Force had met on November 20, 2001 and approved a motion to make all information gathered by the Task Force available to the Board of Commissioners. The motion also included the recommendation that the Board make the decision whether or not to pursue incorporation of the Bethlehem community and to disband the Task Force effective December 1, 2001. Mr. Hopper stated that the following information had been turned over to the County Manager:

    1. The proposed boundary limits.
    2. Four services to offer residences within the proposed boundary.
    3. The total value of taxable property as provided by the Tax Office.
    4. County studies for land use, utilities, and budgetary matters.
    5. Requests to local legislators.
    6. A model budget and determined tax rate.

Mr. Hopper stated that on November 9, 2001, the Board of Elections advised him that there were 2,831 registered voters within the proposed boundary. N.C.G.S. 120-163 requires the petition that is submitted to the Joint Legislative Commission contains signature of 15% of all registered voters, not only property owners, within the proposed limits. Mr. Hopper noted that the Task Force only surveyed property owners and not all registered voters.

Mr. Hopper noted that Robert Campbell, Task Force member, spoke with the Joint Legislative Commission attorney to inquire if the survey was acceptable as a petition and to verify the 15% requirement. Mr. Campbell was informed that the rules for submitting a petition to the Commission would change effective December 1, 2001. The new rules would require a printed name, address, date of birth, and a signature – meaning that the Task Force would have to start over.

Chairman Harbinson suggested that the Board honor the Task Force’s wishes to disband and stated that this issue could be investigated in the future if the need should arise. The Board thanked Mr. Hopper and the entire Task Force for their work on this project.

Commissioner Robertson made a motion to disband the Bethlehem Incorporation Task Force subject to further investigation, if needed, in the future. Commissioner Watts seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

GOVERNOR’S CRIME COMMISSION GRANT APPLICATION

Hayden Bentley, Sheriff’s Department, reported that the Governor’s Crime Commission was offering grants to small counties in NC to purchase a crime scene collection vehicle. Mr. Bentley stated that this was a 75 / 25 grant and would be used to purchase the crime scene collection vehicle from Serchie Laboratories in Raleigh for approximately $100,000. The grant would fund approximately $75,000 and the county would be responsible for the remaining cost, approximately $25,000. Mr. Bentley noted that a 40-hour training session for one and possibly two officers would be included with the vehicle purchase. Mr. Bentley also noted that the vehicle would be available in August or September if the grant is received and that the vehicle would be shared with the Taylorsville Police Department as well.

Chairman Harbinson asked how the crime scene collection vehicle would be specifically used for. Mr. Bentley explained that detectives carried all their crime scene equipment in the back of their cars and noted that this vehicle would house all investigative equipment including a Luminol kit to detect blood, a fingerprint kit, etc. Mr. Bentley also stated that the SBI was used quite frequently in crime scene investigation and explained that detectives would be able to control crime scenes themselves without having to wait on the SBI to arrive to collect evidence. Mr. Bentley also noted that the vehicle could be used as a command post as well and would be equipped with a telephone, radio, and other communication equipment.

Commissioner Hammer asked if there would be a monthly charge for the telephone hookup. Mr. Bentley replied that there would be a monthly charge.

Commissioner Robertson asked about annual maintenance costs and how often the vehicle would be used. Mr. Bentley stated that the grant would be a 2-year grant and that equipment would need to be restocked. Mr. Bentley also noted that the vehicle would be used approximately 15-20 times per year for major cases. Commissioner Robertson also asked how long it usually took for the SBI to arrive when contacted. Mr. Bentley replied that the SBI usually responded quickly but sometimes took as long as 1 or 2 days to arrive. Commissioner Robertson also asked if other counties had these vehicles and suggested working together on a regional level and sharing these vehicles with surrounding counties. Mr. Bentley stated that Lenoir, Iredell, and Catawba all had their own crime scene collection vehicles and felt that agencies should not share because each would handle a crime scene differently and working together would cause confusion.

Commissioner Robertson inquired about the deadline for the application. Mr. Bentley replied the application deadline was January 31, 2002. Commissioner Odom stated that Mr. Bentley should discuss the vehicle with the Taylorsville Police Department and suggest their assistance in regard to maintenance costs and upkeep of the vehicle if the grant is received.

Commissioner Odom made a motion to allow the Sheriff’s Department to proceed with the Governor’s Crime Commission Grant application for a crime scene collection vehicle. 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.

REPORT ON DUSTY RIDGE PARK / MASTER PLAN

Sam Erwin, Environmental Development Administrator, reported that Alexander County was currently developing an application for Dusty Ridge Park to be submitted to the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) for their 2001-2002 grant cycle. The application is due January 31, 2002 and the county is seeking a $50,000 grant with a county match of $50,000 which can be in-kind funds. Mr. Erwin noted that the grant recipients would be announced in May and that the proposed project would include the following for Dusty Ridge Park:

    1. Nature Trail
    2. Picnic Shelter (20’ x 40’)
    3. 2 Picnic Shelters (12’ x 12’)
    4. Volleyball Court
    5. Bleachers (6 sets)
    6. Playground equipment
    7. Tennis Court
    8. Technical Services
    9. Horseshoe Pit

Mr. Erwin requested approval of the submittal of the application and execution of the Grant Application Certification form which would certify that the 50% matching funds would be available from the county during the project period. Mr. Erwin also requested approval of the Dusty Ridge Park Master Plan and explained that the PARTF awarded 20 out of 100 points for planning. The Dusty Ridge Park Master Plan is for 10 years and makes recommendations regarding development, programming, operations, and maintenance.

Chairman Harbinson noted that there was a 30-year lease with Duke Power for Dusty Ridge Park.

Commissioner Robertson asked if the lake access dock at Dusty Ridge Park was included in the Duke Power lease. Mr. Erwin replied that the dock was included but would be maintained by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission.

Commissioner Hammer asked that staff consider using tin roofs on the picnic shelters and buildings instead of asphalt shingles. Commissioner Hammer stated that the asphalt shingles would need to be replaced in 10-15 years and that the tin would last much longer. Commissioner Hammer discussed the plans for tennis courts at Dusty Ridge Park and felt that the $32,000 appropriated for construction of the tennis courts could be used for something else since new tennis courts were built next to the Board of Education Office office less than a year ago. Commissioner Hammer also suggested staff look into upgrading other parks in the county including Jaycee Park.

Chairman Harbinson felt that the tennis courts at Dusty Ridge Park would be beneficial for the citizens of Wittenburg and Bethlehem and noted that the courts at the Board of Education Office were more than 8 miles away for those citizens. Chairman Harbinson also noted that the county would be more likely to get the grant if the park was a multi-purpose one.

Jesse Riddle, Parks & Recreation Director, stated that Phase 1 of Dusty Ridge Park was 85% complete and mentioned that the Recreation Department planned to play ball in the ball fields in April or May 2002.

The Board recognized several members of the Dusty Ridge Task Force that were present at the meeting including Barry Hollar. Mr. Hollar introduced his fellow members including Jackie Wike, Jeff James, Tom Gast, and Mark Davis. Mr. Hollar stated that the community had been very supportive of the efforts for Dusty Ridge Park and noted they had sold signs for a fundraiser. Mr. Hollar also noted that the park was designed to hold State and Regional tournaments for adults and children.

Jeff James informed the Board that citizens could purchase fields in honor or memory of someone for $10,000.

Tom Gast stated that the Bethlehem community was very supportive of Dusty Ridge Park and noted that the kids in Bethlehem would use the fields frequently since there are 20 ball teams each season. Mr. Gast also felt that recreation was vital to growth.

Mark Davis, who lives near the proposed park, felt that the Dusty Ridge Park was much needed and would appeal to more people since the Wittenburg and Bethlehem areas are growing and expanding so quickly.

Commissioner Robertson asked if the total cost of the park was similar in nature to others. Mr. Riddle stated that the total cost was in-line with similar parks and noted that most of the work done on the buildings at Dusty Ridge Parks so far was done by inmates without labor costs. Mr. Riddle also stated that the inmates would be helping construct the nature trail.

Commissioner Robertson felt that a plan was needed for all parks in Alexander County in order to determine which parks needed upgrades, new facilities, and which ones should be phased out. Commissioner Robertson noted that staff should address what the county already had before expanding elsewhere.

Commissioner Harbinson asked Mr. Erwin to research a plan for the entire county and make a recommendation for capital improvements to county parks in the future.

Commissioner Watts made a motion to approve the submittal of the PARTF grant application and execution of the grant application and certification form as well as to approve the Dusty Ridge Park Master Plan. Commissioner Odom seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

HEALTH CHECK OUTREACH PROJECT

Leeanne Whisnant, Health Director, reported that Alexander County had been awarded a Health Check Outreach Project grant by the NC Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Medical Assistance (DMA).

Ms. Whisnant explained that the DMA had agreed to do the following:

    1. Reimburse $2,822 for each approved full-time coordinator position.
    2. Provide ongoing Health Check Program and consultation.
    3. Provide Health Check Introductory Training for Health Check Coordinators and Supervisors.
    4. Implement and maintain the Automated Information and Notification System in the county.

The county is responsible for the following:

    1. Implement and operate the Health Check Project in accordance with the policies and procedures.
    2. Assure that each Health Check Project Coordinator and Supervisor will attend the Health Check Introductory Training.

Ms. Whisnant stated that the Health Check Project Coordinator and the program was fully funded, requiring no funding from the county. Ms. Whisnant noted that the position would be supervised by the Health Department and would be housed in the Smart Start office.

Communicable Disease Grant

Ms. Whisnant also noted that Alexander County had received a Communicable Disease Grant from the State to help improve technology. The funds from the grant will be used to purchase computers, internet service, and printers.

Smart Start Day Care Nurse Position

Ms. Whisnant explained that there was only one Smart Start Day Care Nurse position provided to all licensed daycare homes and centers involving approximately 780-800 children. Ms. Whisnant stated that it was impossible for one person to handle all of the work. Ms. Whisnant requested the addition of a part-time Smart Start Day Care Nurse and noted that a budget amendment for the position was included in the Consent Agenda for consideration.

ARCHITECTURAL PROPOSAL FOR SOCIAL SERVICES PROJECT

Rick French, County Manager, stated that ADW Architects, P.A. completed a space needs study approximately 2 years ago which discussed major needs and concerns for DSS. Mr. French noted that he and Nan Campbell had met with 3 architectural firms including Winstead Architecture, CBSA Architects, and ADW Architects regarding the addition of a 6,500 square feet building to the DSS building to house Employment Security Commission.

Mr. French recommended that the Board agree to move forward and award the contract to Winstead Architecture for architectural and engineering services for $38,000. Winstead has stated that once selected, the firm would need approximately 30 days to generate a preliminary plan. Once the plan is approved, the firm will need approximately 45 days to generate construction documents ready to be put out for the bidding process.

Mr. French noted that once ESC was moved into the addition at DSS, the old ESC building could be renovated to house the Board of Elections.

It was noted that bids could be received in April 2002. Commissioner Robertson felt that April was a good time for construction to begin.

Commissioner Hammer inquired about the total cost of the project. Mr. French replied that the project would cost approximately $1 million.

Mr. French noted that the parking lot would need to be expanded in the future as well.

Commissioner Hammer made a motion to award the contract to Winstead Architecture for architectural and engineering services for the Social Services building. Commissioner Odom seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

RESOLUTION TO SUPPORT ALEXANDER COUNTY CANDIDATES FOR STATE HOUSE

Chairman Harbinson explained that a resident from Alexander County had not been elected to the NC General Assembly in the last 25 years and stated that Alexander County was one of a small minority of counties in the State that did not have any representation in the General Assembly. Alexander County is split into two State House Districts with the Ellendale, Little River, Sugar Loaf, Gwaltney 1 and 2, Sharpes 1 and 2, Millers, and Taylorsville 1 through 4 precincts located in House District 95 and the Bethlehem 1 and 2, Wittenburg, and Taylorsville 5 precincts located in House District 96.

Chairman Harbinson read a resolution for both political parties to support any Alexander County resident, regardless of party affiliation, that files as a candidate in either House District.

Commissioner Robertson stated that he appreciated the intent of the resolution but felt that he could not vote in favor of the resolution without knowing who would be filing for a position in a House District. Commissioner Hammer agreed that he couldn’t support the efforts without knowing who the candidate would be and what they stood for.

Commissioner Odom stated that he felt that there was a need for strong representation from Alexander County in the General Assembly. Commissioner Odom stated that he would support anyone from this county that chose to file as a candidate.

Commissioner Watts stated that a true impact would never be made unless the citizens of Alexander County stood together. Commissioner Watts felt that the resolution was in the best interest of the county and that we should always put the people of the county ahead of partisan politics.

Chairman Harbinson made a motion to approve the resolution to support Alexander County candidates for State House. Commissioner Odom 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.

FINALIZATION OF RETREAT AGENDA

Chairman Harbinson stated that the 3rd Annual Retreat would be held on February 1-2, 2002 at the Hidden Crystal Inn in Hiddenite, NC.

Commissioner Hammer asked what items would be discussed with the Board of Education on Saturday, February 2, 2002. Commissioner Watts replied that no definite agenda had been scheduled but that he hoped to discuss several items including ABC report cards, building projects, the status of old Wittenburg and Ellendale schools, and the placement of historical documents in the schools.

The Board agreed on finalizing the Retreat agenda. Chairman Harbinson also noted that the Retreat was open to the public and press.

BOARD APPOINTMENTS / REAPPOINTMENTS

Sylvia Turnmire, Director of Planning & Development, presented the following appointments and reappointments:

Review Officers

Ms. Turnmire explained that beginning in October 1997, the NC General Statutes required each county to appoint county employees as Review Officers responsible for signing subdivision plats or property maps certifying that they had met the requirements set forth by N.C.G.S..

Ms. Turnmire requested that the Board remove Corey Teague and Mark Walker as Review Officers and appoint Seth Harris and George Brown to serve. Ms. Turnmire noted that she and Luther Stocks, Tax Administrator, were also Review Officers and mentioned that any Review Officer appointments must be made by resolution.

Commissioner Watts made a motion to approve the Review Officer appointments as requested and to approve the resolution. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

Planning & Zoning Commission

Ms. Turnmire requested reappointments of the following Planning & Zoning Commission members:

Wendell Kirkham – 2 years
Don Harrington – 1 year
Lloyd Jarvis – 1 year

Ms. Turnmire noted that Connie Killian did not wish to be reappointed.

Commissioner Watts made a motion to approve the reappointments as requested. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

BOARD APPOINTMENTS / REAPPOINTMENTS

Chairman Harbinson presented the following appointments and reappointments:

    1. COUNCIL ON AGING
    2. Reappoint Angela Johnson 3-year terms

      Reappoint Tim Lackey

      Reappoint Hazel Lackey

      Reappoint Jay Clyde Fox

      Reappoint Pat Fox

      Reappoint Jean Rufty

      Reappoint Margo Mosley

      Appoint Leeanne Whisnant

      Appoint Ronette Starnes

    3. CRIMINAL JUSTICE PARTNERSHIP ADVISORY BOARD
    4. Reappoint Martin Gotholm 3-year term

      Reappoint Camilla Newland 3-year term

      Reappoint Tony Jones 1-year term

      Reappoint Rick French 1-year term

      Reappoint Sarah Kirkman   1-year term

      Reappoint Kimberly S. Taylor 1-year term

      Appoint Tammy Lippard     1-year term

      Appoint Ingrid Townsend     1-year term

    5. EQUALIZATION & REVIEW BOARD
    6. Reappoint Darrell Adkins

      Reappoint Tim Keever

      Appoint Bob Hopper

      Appoint Commissioner David Odom

    7. JUVENILE CRIME PREVENTION COUNCIL
    8. Reappoint Darlene Carrigan 2-year terms

      Reappoint Hayden Bentley

      Reappoint Vicki Bartholomew

      Reappoint Jim Mock

      Reappoint Rick French

      Reappoint Donna Clanton

      Reappoint Commissioner William Hammer

      Reappoint Dale Graham

      Reappoint Leeanne Whisnant

      Reappoint Jesse Riddle

      Reappoint Dan Davis

      Reappoint Gloria Hamilton

      Reappoint Suzanne Rhinehart

      Reappoint Tammy Fenton

      Appoint Crystal Sain

      Appoint Tony Jones

      Appoint Lindsay Carrigan

      Appoint Tyrone Mallard

      Appoint Gail Drum

      Appoint Caryn Brzykcy

      Appoint Cinder Carroll

      Appoint Denise Shew

      Appoint Bill Garrard

      Appoint Holly Hall

    9. LIBRARY BOARD

    Appoint Jan Austin   2-year terms

    Appoint Perry Austin

It was noted that one more appointment was needed for the Equalization and Review Board as well as the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council.

Commissioner Robertson made a motion to approve the appointments and reappointments as presented. Commissioner Watts seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

UPDATE ON NORTH CAROLINA LOCAL GOVERNMENT SETOFF PROGRAM

Luther Stocks, Tax Administrator, gave a brief overview of the NC Local Government Setoff Program that was first presented to the Board at the December 18, 2001 work session. Mr. Stocks also presented a resolution stating that the county would participate in the debt setoff program and designate Luther Stocks as the person to hold the hearings and conduct necessary proceedings.

Commissioner Watts made a motion to move forward with participation in the NC Local Government Setoff Program and approve the resolution. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

REVALUATION RESOLUTION

Chairman Harbinson discussed revaluation and stated that, according to the Tax Office, property values would increase an average of 50% during this revaluation. Chairman Harbinson reported that the Tax Office had projected that a 2002-2003 budget using a property tax of 46 cents per $100 valuation would produce the same revenues generated under the current year’s budget with a property tax rate of 62 cents per $100 valuation. Chairman Harbinson also stated that the latest audit had shown a healthy fund balance of nearly 31% of the annual budget which is the largest surplus in the history of the county.

Chairman Harbinson read a resolution which would instruct the County Manager to prepare the 2002-2003 budget using a property tax rate of no more than 45 cents per $100 valuation and use a portion of the county’s fund balance or surplus to offset the effects of revaluation so that the average taxpayer would not see a substantial increase in their tax bill this coming year.

Commissioner Hammer stated that at the present time the Board had no numbers and figures from department heads or from the school system to study and noted that the school system may wish to expand another school or work towards other programs and may need more funding from the county. Commissioner Hammer stated that the tax rate had been raised 12 cents since 1998 and then lowered 3 cents during the 2000-2001 budget totaling an increase of 9 cents. Commissioner Hammer stated that he understood what Chairman Harbinson was proposing but felt that he could not agree with the resolution without having any numbers to look at.

Commissioner Robertson addressed growth in the county and felt that the 4-5% increase in growth was left out of the plans for the 2002-2003 budget. Commissioner Robertson felt that if the fund balance was spent to offset the effects of revaluation this coming year, the Board would have to address the budget in a different way in the following years by possibly being forced to raise the tax rate. Commissioner Robertson also felt that he could not agree with the resolution without having financial data to look study.

Commissioner Watts stated that the resolution and tax cut was to provide peace of mind to the citizens during revaluation so that they wouldn’t have to worry about their property tax bill doubling. Commissioner Watts noted that this was difficult economic times and that the Board was keeping a close eye on the State budget. Commissioner Watts also stated that counties were required to have a revaluation every 8 years but noted that staff hoped to have a revaluation in the next 5 years to avoid the "sticker shock" inherent with an 8-year revaluation.

Commissioner Odom stated that his goal was to have the lowest tax rate in the State, if financially possible. Commissioner Odom discussed the fact that the Board had agreed to 2 tax increases in the past but urged the citizens to look at what had been accomplished with the funds. Commissioner Odom also stated that the resolution was to simply give the County Manager some guidance and direction for the 2002-2003 budget.

Chairman Harbinson further stated that he was simply trying to follow the philosophy of President Bush by using the fund balance or surplus to lower the tax rate. Chairman Harbinson explained that with the new valuation, a home worth $50,000 would increase 50% for a total of $75,000. With a 45-cent tax rate, the property tax bill would only increase $27.50. A $100,000 home would increase to $150,000 increasing the property tax bill only $55. Chairman Harbinson also noted that some property values would increase, some would stay the same, and some would go down slightly.

Commissioner Harbinson also noted, in response to Commissioner Hammer’s statement, that the present Democratic Commissioners had raised the property tax rate a net total of 9 cents their first 3 years in office while during the first 3 years of the previous Republican controlled County Commission (1995-1997), the tax rate was increased a total of 10 cents. Chairman Harbinson asked Commissioner Hammer to compare what the county had received with the Republican controlled board’s 10 cent increase to what the county had received with the current Democrat controlled board’s 9 cent increase.

Chairman Harbinson made a motion to approve the resolution to instruct the County Manager to prepare the 2002-2003 budget using a property tax rate of no more than 45 cents per $100 valuation to offset the effects of revaluation. Commissioner Odom seconded the motion. The Board voted 3 for the motion (Commissioners Harbinson, Odom, and Watts) and 2 against the motion (Commissioner Hammer and Robertson). Motion carried.

Commissioner Harbinson asked that the resolution be printed in the Taylorsville Times and the Bethlehem Star. Commissioner Robertson asked that his and Commissioner Hammer’s reasoning for voting against the approval of the resolution be printed as well.

OTHER BUSINESS

The following items were discussed during Other Business:

    1. Commissioner Watts stated that the Board would need a second meeting in January. Rick French, County Manager, proposed a Special Called Meeting rather than a work session since the Board would need to take action on several items. After discussion, the Board agreed to hold a Special Called Meeting on January 22, 2002 at 7:00 PM in the Commissioners’ Room.
    2. Commissioner Odom noted that a Fire Truck Retirement Service and New Fire Truck Dedication would be held at the Taylorsville Volunteer Fire Department on January 20, 2002 at 3:00 PM. Commissioner Odom stated that the old fire truck would be given to the Gwaltney 2 substation and noted that the Board and all citizens were invited to attend.

CONSENT AGENDA

  1. Tax Refund Requests for December $3,888.19 and Tax Release Requests for December $1,028.02.
  2. Minutes from December 4, 2001 Regular Meeting and December 18, 2001 Work Session.
  3. Closed Session Minutes to be Unsealed Only:
  4. February 6, 2001; March 6, 2001; March 20, 2001; April 3, 2001; April 17, 2001; May 1, 2001; June 5, 2001; July 10, 2001; September 18, 2001; and October 16, 2001.

  5. Equal Employment Opportunity Procurement and the Section 3 Plans for Alexander County’s Water Hook-Up Demonstration Project.
  6. Budget Amendments #6 - #11.

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

CLOSED SESSION – N.C.G.S. 143-318.11(a)(5) CONTRACTUAL

Commissioner Odom made a motion to enter into Closed Session at 9:32 PM to discuss contractual matters pursuant to N.C.G.S. 143-318.11(a)(5). Commissioner Watts seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business, Commissioner Hammer made a motion to adjourn at 9:55 PM. Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

 

                                                                                                           

  Joel C. Harbinson, Chairman           Jamie C. Millsaps, Clerk to the Board