June 18, 2002
The Alexander County Board of Commissioners held a Special Called Meeting and Budget Work Session on Tuesday, June 18, 2002 in the Agriculture Extension Learning Center in the Alexander County Administrative Building, Taylorsville, North Carolina.
CALL TO ORDER
Chairman Watts called the meeting to order at 6:15 PM. Chairman Watts noted that Commissioners Hammer and Robertson would be arriving late.
ADOPTION OF AGENDA
Commissioner Odom made a motion to adopt the agenda as presented. Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Rick French, County Manager, informed the Board that he had no budget appeals to submit. However, Mr. French distributed a report from the Alexander County Senior Center which included information regarding the number of visits to the Senior Center, number of programs offered, financial partners, personnel, advisory council members, etc.
Chairman Watts noted that Commissioner Hammer was the commissioner representative on the Senior Center Advisory Council.
DISCUSSION ON FEE INCREASES
Chairman Watts suggested delaying discussion on fee increases until later in the meeting when all commissioners were present. The Board members present agreed.
RESOLUTION FOR FINANCING OF REFUSE TRUCK
Rick French, County Manager, presented a resolution approving the financing terms for the 2003 Front Loader Refuse Collection Truck with Branch Banking and Trust Company (BB&T) at an annual interest rate of 3.87%. Mr. French explained that the amount of $149,589 would be financed for 3 years.
Commissioner Odom made a motion to approve the resolution approving the financing terms for the 2003 Front Loader Refuse Collection Truck with BB&T for 3 years. Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
OVERVIEW OF 2002-2003 BUDGET
Rick French, County Manager, stated that the Board would have 3 options in regard to the 2002-2003 budget due to the States unresolved budget. Mr. French discussed one budget with a 46.5 cent tax rate that would include the local option sales tax but not reimbursements. Another budget discussed was with a 49.5 cent tax rate and would not include the local option sales tax or reimbursements. The final option discussed was an interim budget. Mr. French stated that reimbursements were not included in any of the budget proposals since the State had given every indication that it would not release these monies. Therefore, the counties have asked the Legislature to approve the half-cent sales local option sales tax to replace the reimbursements.
Mr. French explained that the General Assembly had in 2001 enacted a state half-cent sales tax to become a local option sales tax as of July 1, 2003. Many counties, including Alexander County, have held public hearings and enacted the tax by resolution. Mr. French noted that he had received a memo from Jim Blackburn, NCACC, which discussed the possibility of the Legislation authorizing counties to levy a half-cent local option sales tax this year. Senate Bill 1292 has passed the Senate and is pending in the House. Mr. French explained that to be effective August 1, 2002, the tax needed to be levied by county resolution, without another public hearing, and the Department of Revenue needed to be notified by July 15, 2002.
Commissioner Harbinson suggested placing the resolution on the agenda for discussion at the June 27, 2002 Special Called Meeting and tabling any action on the resolution until the General Assembly makes a decision. Jennifer Herman, Budget Officer, suggested that the Board move forward with adopting the resolution since the Department of Revenue needed to be notified by July 15, 2002. Commissioner Harbinson then suggesting placing the resolution on the agenda for the July 9, 2002 Commissioners Meeting.
Mr. French explained that if staff did not receive word next week regarding the local option sales tax, the Board would be forced to adopt an interim budget. Mr. French noted that the Board could adopt an interim budget ordinance for the month of July and then adopt another budget ordinance for the rest of the budget year. Mr. French stated that an interim budget would be very confusing and would only allow payment of salaries, utilities, and debt. No funds could be spent on supplies, advertisements, etc. Mr. French also noted that if an interim budget was adopted, a tax rate could not be set, which would cause confusion for the fire departments and fire tax.
Ms. Herman mentioned that the budget information could only be entered in the Finance Departments computer system one time. Any changes from that point on must be made as budget amendments. Ms. Herman explained that if an interim budget were adopted, the budget would have to be entered into a spreadsheet because, since it would be temporary, it could not be entered into the computer system. Ms. Herman also noted that the Board could pass the budget without setting a tax rate but simply specifying the dollar amount. The Board could then plug in the tax rate later. Ms. Herman did note that this procedure was not used often.
Mr. French informed the Board that the half-cent local option sales tax would bring in over $1 million in revenue based on most recent State projects, and would bring in approximately $171,000 more than reimbursements. Mr. French noted that staff planned to add funding to the following departments and organizations if the half-cent local option sales tax was approved and revenue was increased:
Mr. French stated that the total for all increases to these departments and organizations proposed if the half-cent local option sales tax was approved totaled $136,651. Mr. French noted that the half-cent local option sales tax would bring in $171,000 more than reimbursements. Any difference would be added to the Contingency line item.
Mr. French stated that Day Reporting was not in Governors budget but that it was in the Senate budget. The Day Reporting program is currently funded 75% by the State and 25% by counties. Commissioner Harbinson noted that the State would spend more money by eliminating this program than they would save by eliminating it because there will be more people in jail. Mr. French noted that he had instructed Anita Price, Day Reporting Director, to use up as much of her vacation time as possible because, if the program is eliminated, she will not be compensated for that time.
Mr. French stated that he would keep them informed about the half-cent local option sales tax during the next week. Mr. French stated that he hoped staff would know something by the June 27, 2002 Special Called Meeting.
At this time, Commissioner Hammer entered the meeting. The time was 6:35 PM. The Board brought Commissioner Hammer up-to-speed on the information discussed during his absence.
Mr. French briefly discussed the water budget. Mr. French proposed combining the Sugar Loaf, Highway 16 South, and Interconnect budgets into one district. This would exclude Bethlehem water and Bethlehem sewer. Mr. French stated that this action would make things simpler and easier to track. Mr. French also proposed a rate increase for residential customers and a rate decrease for bulk water customers and noted that this issue would be discussed further during the discussion of fee increases.
The following items were discussed during Other Business:
Mr. Greene also stated that he had received a price for a clear cut which totaled $110,000 and explained that if Board chose to clear cut, the job would need to be advertised as a negotiated bid. Mr. Greene explained that after the clear cut, a 10-year growth would be worth approximately $100,000 and a 20-year growth would be worth approximately $450,000. Mr. Greene stated that he recommended a clear cut at this time.
Commissioner Harbinson asked if the monies collected would be placed in Contingency. Mr. French replied that the monies would be placed in the Solid Waste budget. Commissioner Hammer suggested paying for the refuse collection truck with the monies collected. Mr. French stated that it had already been approved to be financed through BB&T. Commissioner Hammer suggested making the payments on the truck with the monies collected.
Commissioner Odom made a motion to allow staff to proceed with the clear cut option subject to the advertisement as a negotiated bid. Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
At this time, Commissioner Robertson entered the meeting. The time was 6:55 PM. The Board brought Commissioner Hammer up-to-speed on the information discussed during his absence. Commissioner Robertson informed the board that Senator Stephen Metcalf had notified him that the State budget would not be finalized until September 2002.
DISCUSSION OF FEE INCREASES
The following fee increases were discussed:
Sylvia Turnmire, Director of Planning & Development, discussed several proposed fee increases. Ms. Turnmire discussed current fees and proposed fees for Alexander County as well as current fees for Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Davie, Iredell, Wilkes, and Yadkin counties. These fees included:
Ms. Turnmire explained that Alexander County charged a reinspection fee after two incomplete inspections while other counties charge a reinspection fee after the first incomplete inspection. Ms. Turnmire also noted that the number of reinspections for 2000-2001 totaled 323 and the number for 2001-2002 as of May 2002 totaled 293.
Commissioner Hammer asked if there would be a charge if a different inspector came out the second time and noticed something that the first inspector didnt. Ms. Turnmire replied that there would be no additional charge. Commissioner Hammer also asked if the Planning & Development staff required drawings of piers for a building permit. Ms. Turnmire stated that the Planning & Development required at least a rough sketch of the pier.
Commissioner Robertson suggested some different fees which included the following:
At this time, Keith Hertzler and his wife, Sue, entered the meeting. The time was 7:10 PM.
Chairman Watts asked if Ms. Turnmire had a total revenue projection for the proposed fee increases. Ms. Turnmire replied that she did not have that information with her but could get the information to the Board. Chairman Watts stated that he would like to see that information.
Commissioner Odom made a motion to approve the rate increase as amended by Commissioner Robertson subject to the viewing of the revenue projections. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Geographical Information System
Greg Cronk, Information Technology Director, explained that since the deployment of the countys on-line GIS public access system, staff has been receiving requests for digital GIS data, customized GIS product and specialized maps. Mr. Cronk stated that this could result in considerable staff time and material costs being incurred by the county. Mr. Cronk stated that most counties have implemented a GIS Fee Schedule to recover staff and material costs. Mr. Cronk presented NCGS Public Records Law that specifies that digital GIS data and associated information be provided "at reasonable cost" and allows local governments to require a non resale agreement between the seller and buyer with exceptions for the media, real estate trade associations, and licensed professionals. Mr. Cronk presented the following proposed GIS Fee Schedule:
Mr. Cronk stated that black and white aerials with property lines would cost $20.
Mr. Cronk also explained that the proposed GIS Fee Schedule would base custom mapping on an hourly rate of $50 and would be billed in half-hour increments. Mr. Cronk stated that this price does not include the cost of printing. Example: A custom 34 x 44 size map that incorporates one hour of custom mapping would be $50 for one hour of work and $50 for printing cost and would total $100. Mr. Cronk stated that bulk quotes could be generated for large jobs.
Mr. Cronk stated that maps printed from public access stations would be $1.00 (This includes both map and associated tax information.)
Mr. Cronk stated that data would be provided free of charge, but would not include time and media costs. The hourly rate for data distribution would be $50 per hour and $2 for each CD generated or $15 per tape. Mr. Cronk also stated that staff recommended that the county provide its own media instead of allowing the public to bring their own, making the county system immune to viruses from outside sources
Mr. Cronk polled the Board for their feeling about the non resale agreement. Chairman Watts asked how this agreement would be enforced. Mr. Cronk replied that there was no way to actually enforce the non resale agreement, it would just be adopted to inform the public that the county does not wish for them to resale the information gathered.
Commissioner Harbinson asked how much additional revenue the GIS Fee Schedule would generate. Mr. Cronk replied approximately $1,000 per year.
Commissioner Robertson made a motion to approve the proposed GIS Fee Schedule and non resale agreement. Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Mr. French stated that in the 2002-2003 budget, he would propose a10% increase in Solid Waste fees which would increase the fee from $40.30 to $44.30. Mr. French also proposed an increase in C & D fees from $20.15 to $22.15. Mr. French stated that this increase would generate approximately $100,000 in revenues per year.
Mr. French stated that the Water Committee held a meeting on June 17, 2002. Denny Martin, McGill Associates, was present and covered rate information with the committee. The Water Committee discussed EnergyUnited buying treatment plant capacity from Alexander County.
Mr. French stated that suggested a 2 ½ % water increase for residential customers. Mr. French also proposed a reduction in the bulk rate from $1.40 to $1.30.
Mr. French briefly discussed the terms of the City of Hickory capacity purchase offer and noted that the City of Hickory staff had agreed to allow September 1, 2002 as the effective date instead of July 1, 2002 which would include a cost of $1.40 per gallon for 20 years. After September 1, 2002, the price will be $1.55 per gallon for capacity.
Mr. French stated that if EnergyUnited did not purchase capacity, the county would charge them $2.40 per thousand gallons. Mr. French also noted the EnergyUnited was still paying the $1.25 bulk rate instead of the $1.40.
Commissioner Hammer felt that the Board should require EnergyUnited to start paying the $1.40 on July 1, 2002 and also pay the difference between $1.40 and $1.25 since October 2001. Mr. French noted that the Town of Taylorsville started paying the $1.40 in October 2001. Commissioner Robertson felt that July 1, 2002 was too soon and suggested July 15, 2002 to allow EnergyUnited a little more time to prepare. Russell Greene, Fire Marshal, noted that July 15, 2002 was actually the billing due date. Mr. French stated that he would send a letter to EnergyUnited requesting the $1.40 bulk rate as of July 15, 2002.
Mr. French noted that the Water Committee would hold its next meeting on July 22, 2002.
Commissioner Odom made a motion to approve the Consent Agenda as presented. Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
CLOSED SESSION N.C.G.S. 143-318.11(a)(5 & 6) CONTRACTUAL / PERSONNEL
Commissioner Odom made a motion to enter into Closed Session at 7:40 PM to discuss contractual matters and personnel issues pursuant to N.C.G.S. 143-318.11(a)(5 & 6). Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
There being no further business, Commissioner Robertson made a motion to adjourn at 8:00 PM. Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
John F. Watts, Chairman Jamie C. Millsaps, Clerk to the Board