December 16, 2002
The Alexander County Board of Commissioners held its regular meeting on Monday, December 16, 2002 in the Commissioners Room of the Alexander County Courthouse, Taylorsville, North Carolina.
CALL TO ORDER
Chairman Robertson called the meeting to order at 6:00 PM.
INVOCATION AND PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Commissioner Bolick gave the invocation and Commissioner Odom led the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.
ADOPTION OF AGENDA
Commissioner Hammer requested the opportunity to make several comments at some point during the meeting. Chairman Robertson suggested that Commissioner Hammer make those comments during Other Business. Chairman Robertson stated that the Board needed to designate a Commissioner representative to serve on the Western NC Caucus during Other Business. Commissioner Bolick stated that he would like to recognize someone in the audience at some point during the meeting.
Commissioner Hammer made a motion to adopt the agenda as amended. Commissioner Odom seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
At this time, Commissioner Bolick recognized the Alexander County Sheriff, Hayden Bentley, who was present at the meeting, and thanked him for his help with the Christmas Drive-Through in Bethlehem over the weekend. Commissioner Bolick stated that several deputies, explorers, and even trustees helped a great deal. Commissioner Bolick stated that the drive-through was successful with more than 2,500 visitors and he noted that traffic was backed up tremendously. Commissioner Bolick felt that the Christmas Drive-Through would not have been possible without the help from the Sheriffs Department.
Chairman Robertson mentioned that he was pleased to hear that the Christmas Drive-Through in Bethlehem was successful.
APPOINTMENT OF THE COUNTY ATTORNEY
Chairman Robertson stated that staff had received a letter of resignation from Attorney Edward Hedrick who has served as the County Attorney for the last 4 years. Chairman Robertson stated that he, as well as the entire Board, appreciated Mr. Hedricks interest and willingness to serve.
Chairman Robertson asked for any nominations to fill the County Attorney position.
Commissioner Keever made a motion to nominate and appoint Robert Campbell as County Attorney. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Bolick stated that Mr. Hedrick had done a fine job as County Attorney for the last 4 years and noted that he appreciated the work that Mr. Hedrick had done for the County.
Chairman Robertson noted that there were several things in progress that would still require Mr. Hedricks input. Chairman Robertson also stated that he appreciated Mr. Hedricks service to the County as well.
Commissioner Odom asked if Mr. Campbell was also serving as the Attorney for the Board of Education. Commissioner Keever replied that Mr. Campbell was serving in that capacity as well. Chairman Robertson assured Commissioner Odom that there would be no conflict of interest in Mr. Campbell serving as County Attorney and Board of Education Attorney.
CONSIDERATION OF THE 2003 COMMISSIONERS MEETING SCHEDULE
Chairman Robertson presented the proposed 2003 Commissioners Meeting Schedule as follows:
Chairman Robertson stated that the meetings would be held in the Commissioners Room at 6:00 PM.
Chairman Robertson mentioned that there were two meetings scheduled on holidays including January 20, 2003 (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) and September 1, 2003 (Labor Day). Chairman Robertson noted that the January 20, 2003 Meeting would take place since the Board had arranged to meeting with Senator R.B. Sloan and Representative Edgar Starnes at that time but he noted that the Board would reschedule the September 1, 2003 meeting at a later date.
Commissioner Bolick made a motion to approve the 2003 Commissioners Meeting Schedule as presented. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
CONSIDERATION OF THE 2003 ALEXANDER COUNTY HOLIDAY SCHEDULE
Chairman Robertson presented the proposed 2003 Holiday Schedule as follows:
Commissioner Odom made a motion to approve the 2003 Holiday Schedule as presented. Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
DISCUSSION OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS PAY INCREASE / DISCUSSION OF 2003 CONVENIENCE SITE SCHEDULE
Commissioner Keever noted that the discussion of commissioners pay increase and discussion of the 2003 convenience site schedule went hand in hand and would be discussed together.
Commissioner Keever suggested delaying the commissioners pay increase until the next budget year beginning July 1, 2003 and using the savings incurred by delaying the pay raise to increase operating hours at the convenience sites. Commissioner Keever stated that the current schedule was as follows:
Commissioner Keever stated that he would like to make the schedule more standard and less confusing and recommended changing the schedule as follows until daylight savings time returned:
Commissioner Odom stated that the new commissioners pay was supposed to have taken effect on December 1, 2002 and he asked if that action was taken. Rick French, County Manager, replied that staff did not want to implement the pay increase until the current Board discussed the matter. Commissioner Keever made the comment that the current Board greatly appreciated the fact that the previous Board voted in favor of the pay raise but he noted that he felt that the convenience center hours were a more important issue at the present time.
Commissioner Bolick asked if many citizens visited the convenience sites on Wednesday mornings and he noted that he was concerned that the change would affect quite a few people. Mr. French replied that there was some traffic at the convenience sites on Monday mornings but not a tremendous amount of activity took place.
Chairman Robertson felt that the Board should not receive a pay increase during this budget year since the county employees did not receive one.
Commissioner Keever made a motion to delay the commissioners pay increase until the next budget year and use the savings to increase the operating hours at the convenience sites as discussed to take effect the first week in January 2003. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
ALEXANDER COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION RECOMMENDATION ON CENTRAL OFFICE PROJECT
Rick French, County Manager, presented a memo and support information from Jack Hoke, Alexander County Schools Superintendent, which stated that the Board of Education voted unanimously on December 10, 2002 to replace the mobile units at the Central Office with a 7,050 square foot addition. The total cost of the project is $644,007.57. The memo also stated that White Fox Construction was the low bidder as a single prime contractor.
Mr. French explained that the Board of Education was requesting permission from the Board of Commissioners to use the half-cent sales tax on hand in the amount of $644,007.57 for the project. Mr. French noted that there was approximately $1,387,460 in half-cent sales tax available in the county for public school capital outlay purposes; therefore, no debt would be incurred.
Commissioner Keever asked if this project would have any bearing on the current expansion projects for additional classrooms. Mr. French replied that this project would not affect the current construction projects. Commissioner Keever also asked how the 7,050 square foot addition would compare to the existing square footage. Chairman Robertson stated that there was approximately 5,000 square feet in the current facility.
Commissioner Bolick mentioned that the County had had some problems with White Fox Construction concerning the transfer station and he asked if those issues had been taken into consideration. Chairman Robertson stated that Atilla Orkan, Project Architect, had met with White Fox Construction and stressed the issue of time and quality of construction.
Commissioner Keever made a motion to approve the allocation of funds for the construction of the 7,050 square foot addition to the Central Office as requested. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
DISCUSSION OF MANUFACTURED HOME CRITERIA ANTHONY GEORGE
Rick French, County Manager, presented information to the Board regarding a manufactured home owned by Anthony George which included memos from Sylvia Turnmire, Director of Planning & Development, as well as a copy of an inspection completed on the manufactured home by Lynn Teague on November 20, 2002. Mr. French explained that Mr. George owned a 1972 manufactured home (pre-HUD) that almost met the standards of the Manufactured Housing Appearance Criteria as far as wiring of the home and siding.
Mr. French suggested that the Board consider looking into Minimum Housing Regulations that would apply to all housing, not just manufactured homes. Mr. French noted that Minimum Housing Regulations would eliminate the many types of problems and concerns with manufactured housing.
Chairman Robertson asked Ms. Turnmire if a pre-1976 mobile home could be set up by the NC code if the home did not have a HUD or UL label. Ms. Turnmire stated that pre-1976 mobile homes could be set up without a HUD or UL label before the Manufactured Housing Appearance Criteria was adopted but she noted that she was not aware if it could still be done. Ms. Turnmire stated that she would look into the matter.
Chairman Robertson informed the Board that Mr. George had replaced the metal siding on the mobile home with vinyl siding but he noted that the roof was still metal. Chairman Robertson stated that he wasnt sure if the mobile home would meet NC Building Code.
Commissioner Keever asked if Lynn Teague had been back to Mr. Georges mobile home since the November 20, 2002 inspection to follow up and make sure all wiring was completed. Ms. Turnmire stated that Mr. George did not want to proceed any further with the wiring of the mobile home until he knew how the Board would be voting in regards to this issue.
Commissioner Keever stated that he did not like the idea of making exceptions to the rule but noted that he would be in favor of changing the ordinance if it was legal to do so. Commissioner Keever also mentioned that having requirements for mobile homes that did not apply to other houses could possibly deprive citizens of a place to live. Commissioner Keever felt that this issue needed to be addressed as a permanent manner and not an exception to the rule.
Chairman Robertson agreed with Commissioner Keever but noted that if the mobile home did not meet the NC building code, the Board could not approve the request. Chairman Robertson stated that even though Lynn Teagues inspection report stated that the mobile home was an overall good structure, Chairman Robertson was not sure whether or not it would meet NC Building Code.
Commissioner Odom stated that it troubled him that if the mobile home stayed in its current location, it could still be taxed as a habitable dwelling for countless years to come but yet it could not be sold. Commissioner Odom agreed that the mobile homes should be up to standard but he noted that many site built or modular homes that were built years ago would not comply with todays codes.
Commissioner Hammer stated that if Mr. Georges mobile home passed the code and was an overall good structure, he would be in favor of the sale of the home. Commissioner Hammer also discussed a similar situation of a mobile home on Old Charlotte Road. Commissioner Hammer explained that the mobile home was set up and had passed inspection approximately 6 months ago. The owners grandmother died and he has since moved into his grandmothers house and would like to sell the mobile home but cant due to the criteria.
Commissioner Keever also discussed another situation of a mobile home across from the old Rocky Face Baptist Church. Commissioner Keever stated that the mobile home was set up according to the requirements but now the owner cannot get power hooked up. Commissioner Keever felt that the Board should not put these types of hardships on citizens if it was not necessary and therefore suggested tabling this issue until all the uncertainties discussed tonight were addressed.
Ms. Turnmire stated that she was not familiar with these mobile homes and asked Commissioner Hammer and Commissioner Keever to give her the information regarding these situations after the meeting so that she could research the problem. Commissioner Hammer and Commissioner Keever agreed to do so.
Chairman Robertson stated that he was aware of some type of provision if a mobile home had been hooked up to power and lived in for 6 months. Chairman Robertson suggested eliminating this provision.
Mr. French suggested referring these issues to the Planning & Zoning Commission to review as well as instruct the Planning & Zoning Commission to discuss Minimum Housing Regulations.
Commissioner Keever asked Ms. Turnmire what was required to establish proof that a mobile home had been in the County previous to the adoption of the Manufactured Housing Appearance Criteria. Ms. Turnmire explained that when the Manufactured Housing Appearance Criteria was adopted in August 1999, Planning & Development staff obtained a listing of every mobile in the County from the Alexander County Tax Office. Ms. Turnmire stated that the list included mobile homes in every township, singlewides and doublewides, and those in mobile home parks as well as individual lots.
Commissioner Keever made a motion to table this issue until the January Commissioners Meeting to allow time for the Planning & Zoning Commission to review the Boards concerns. Commissioner Odom seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
DISCUSSION OF ALEXANDER COUNTY LIBRARY BUDGET AND SCHEDULE
Jennifer Herman, Budget Officer, informed the Board that the Library Board was interested in increasing the Library employees hours back to what they were before the current budget was adopted. Ms. Herman explained that reinstating those hours would cost an additional $14,641.62 when considering the extra cost for salaries, FICA, insurance, and retirement.
Ms. Herman noted that the Library Board was also interested in increasing several different line items within the Library budget that were cut due to the budget crisis. These line items included Technology, Travel, Cataloging, Adult Books, Childrens Books, Serials, Audiovisual Materials, Binding, and Reference Materials. Ms. Herman informed the Board that if each line item was increased as requested, the additional cost would total $28,062.
Ms. Herman noted that the combined total for the requested increase in personnel costs and line items would total $42,703.62 for the time period between January 2003 and June 2003.
Ms. Herman discussed the sources of revenue from which these funding increases would be taken from which included $50,375 from Contingency (Budget Amendment #17 approved on November 12, 2002) and $16,050 from the State Aid funds over what the County had originally budgeted for a total of $66,425. Ms. Herman stated that the State had revised its State Aid figures and was scheduled to appropriate $16,050 more than expected to the Alexander County Library.
Ms. Herman stated that circulation at the Library from June 2002 through November 2002 had decreased by 13.89% from the same time a year ago. However, Ms. Herman stated that if the figures for the bookmobile were excluded, the circulation only decreased 7.8%.
Ms. Herman stated that this information was simply for the Board to review in order to take action at the January Commissioners Meeting.
Commissioner Odom asked if any Library employees were working full-time. Ms. Herman replied that there was one half-time employee who worked 20 hours per week and all other employees worked 32 hours per week. Ms. Herman noted that the Library Director still worked full-time.
Rick French, County Manager, stated that he was concerned that if the Library budget was changed, then the additional State Aid would not be received as promised and he noted that it was not appropriated last budget year as promised. Mr. French stated that he had been informed that the State budget would be $2 billion short during the next budget year which left room for doubt in regards to getting additional funding.
Mr. French and Ms. Herman noted that these numbers were simply for information and they recommended that action not be taken until January 2003. Mr. French stated that if the Board did not want to fully increase the Library budget as requested, they could possibly meet in the middle or partially fund the requests.
Mr. French also that the bookmobile was not operating at the present time and he noted that the Library Board had requested putting the bookmobile on the road. Mr. French mentioned, however, that many counties across the State were eliminating bookmobiles and had them for sale.
Commissioner Hammer inquired about the mechanical shape of the bookmobile. Mr. French replied that the bookmobile would run but had in the past had some mechanical problems. Mr. French stated that the Board could look into purchasing another unit.
Commissioner Bolick requested information of the history of the bookmobile such as how many hour spent on the road, what areas the bookmobile traveled to, etc.
Commissioner Hammer suggested researching which days the Library received more circulation and possibly adding some additional hours on those days. Commissioner Keever felt that the Library received more circulation during the week due to the school students.
Commissioner Keever made a motion to table consideration of the Library Boards requests until the January Commissioners Meeting. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
DISCUSSION OF STATE REIMBURSEMENT LAWSUIT
Chairman Robertson discussed the State reimbursement lawsuit as well as information gathered by Rick French, County Manager, regarding neighboring counties, cities, and towns that had joined the suit.
Mr. French stated that he had spoken with Phillip Isley, Attorney involved in the lawsuit, who informed Mr. French that the suit had been given to a judge and that it looked very favorable for the counties and cities. Mr. French stated that counties, cities, and towns had until January 31, 2002 to join the suit and he felt that participation in the lawsuit seemed more favorable due to the uncertainty of the half-cent sales tax and the State budget status.
Commissioner Keever inquired about the maximum cost of joining the lawsuit. Mr. French stated that the maximum cost to join the lawsuit would total $1,000 but he noted that Mr. Isley had informed him that the cost would be much less due to the number of participants.
Chairman Robertson stated that the downside to joining the lawsuit was that there could be retributions from the State against the counties that joined.
Commissioner Odom made a motion to join the lawsuit against the State of North Carolina for reimbursements by resolution. Commissioner Keever seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
The following items were discussed during Other Business:
Chairman Robertson stated that he would be willing to serve on the WPCOG Policy Board since he worked in Conover. Commissioner Keever made a motion to appoint Chairman Robertson to the WPCOG Policy Board. Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Odom made a motion to approve the Consent Agenda. Commissioner Hammer 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 Hammer made a motion to enter into Closed Session at 7:03 PM to discuss contractual matters and personnel issues pursuant to N.C.G.S. 143-318.11(a)(5 & 6). Commissioner Odom seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
There being no further business, Commissioner Bolick made a motion to adjourn at 8:00 PM. Commissioner Odom seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
W. Darrell Robertson, Chairman Jamie C. Millsaps, Clerk to the Board