February 17, 2003
The Alexander County Board of Commissioners held its regular meeting on Monday, February 17, 2003 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
Chairman Robertson requested that addition of a short Closed Session at the end of the meeting to discuss contractual matters pursuant to N.C.G.S. 143-318.11(a)(5).
Commissioner Keever made a motion to adopt the agenda as amended. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
INTRODUCTION OF BOND ORDER BETHLEHEM WATER DISTRICT
Rick French, County Manager, introduced the Bond Order Authorizing the Issuance of General Obligation Water Refunding Bonds of Bethlehem Water District in the Maximum Amount of $2,200,000.
Mr. French explained that the Bethlehem Water District had previously issued a $2,500,000 general obligation water bond on February 4, 1991. Mr. French stated that based on the current state of municipal bond market, the Bethlehem Water District had determined that refinancing the outstanding balance of the general obligation bond would provide great savings. Mr. French stated that the Bethlehem Water District had applied to the North Carolina Local Government Commission (LGC) for approval of the issuance of refunding bonds to carry out the refinancing and he noted that the LGC had accepted the application.
Mr. French requested approval of a resolution setting a public hearing for the Board to consider the refinancing of the general obligation water bond for the Bethlehem Water District. Mr. French requested the public hearing for the March 6, 2003 Commissioners Meeting at 6:00 PM in the Department of Social Services Conference Room.
Chairman Robertson asked if the refinancing would shorten the length of the indebtedness as well as result in a savings to the system. Mr. French replied that staff was considering refinancing the bond for 15 or 20 years. Mr. French also noted that refinancing the bond would result in a savings of $1 million to $1.5 million.
Commissioner Odom stated that he wanted to make taxpayers aware that the County was not assuming any additional debt but attempting to reduce debt already incurred.
Chairman Robertson stated that the current debt was being paid by water users in Bethlehem and he noted that it would remain that way after the refinancing.
Commissioner Bolick asked when the original bond was scheduled to retire. Mr. French stated that the bond was financed for 30 years in February 1991.
Commissioner Keever made a motion to approve the resolution setting the public hearing for March 6, 2003 to consider the refinancing of the general obligation water bond for the Bethlehem Water District. Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
REPORT ON FUND BALANCE
Rick French, County Manager, discussed several items included in the agenda packets which included a letter from the LGC expressing their concerns with the Countys Fund Balance and a response letter from the County to the LGC explaining the Countys plans on how to increase the Fund Balance.
Mr. French stated that the Fund Balance as of June 30, 2002 was 2.1%. The LGC prefers for counties and cities to have a Fund Balance of at least 8%. Mr. French stated that the projected Fund Balance for June 30, 2003 was 4.45% which was based on maintaining the $647,795 in Contingency instead of appropriating it for expenditures and keeping the amount of appropriated Fund Balance at $91,181 and not increasing it later in the year. However, Mr. French noted that he and Jennifer Herman, Finance Officer, was researching some options which could possibly bring the Fund Balance up to 6% or 8% by June 30, 2003.
Commissioner Keever asked if the low Fund Balance would affect the Countys borrowing ability or result in higher interest rates. Mr. French replied that the County would probably not be able to borrow for bigger projects until the Fund Balance reached 8%.
Chairman Robertson inquired about the sales tax. Jennifer Herman, Finance Officer, stated that she had not received any written notification. Therefore, she called the Department of Revenue on Friday, February 14, 2002 and was informed that the sales tax revenues would be in the Countys bank account on Friday, February 21, 2003. Ms. Herman stated that the revenues generated from the additional half-cent sales tax enacted in December 2002 was lower than expected for the first month. Ms. Herman stated that she had expected to receive 14% of the $580,000 budgeted but she noted that the County only received 6%.
Chairman Robertson asked when the budget process would begin. Mr. French replied that the budget process would begin in March and he noted that he would be requesting that department heads submit departmental budgets by March 31, 2003.
Chairman Robertson suggested that the Board hold a work session in March to discuss the budget and issues with State revenues. The Board agreed to set a date for a work session during the March 6, 2003 Commissioners Meeting.
RESOLUTION TO REPEAL SENATE BILL 1217
Chairman Robertson discussed Senate Bill 1217 which allows any retailer to sell electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling equipment, etc. without having a license or entering into a contract. Chairman Robertson explained that the original wording of this bill, before amended, required a licensed contractor to sell this type of equipment.
Commissioner Keever stated that this bill would allow retailers such as Sears, Home Depot, and Lowes to be excluded from entering into a contract to sell this type of equipment. However, smaller businesses which provide this type of equipment will still be required to have a license and enter into contracts. Commissioner Keever noted that the bill removed the protection that the original bill had put in place to protect the homeowner against unscrupulous people.
Commissioner Bolick stated that he, Commissioner Keever, and Representative Edgar Starnes met with a group of citizens in Bethlehem in regard to Senate Bill 1217. Commissioner Bolick explained that the portion of the bill addressing these issues was added into the bill by lobbyists just a few hours before the bill was introduced during the last session.
Commissioner Odom mentioned that Commissioner Keever was not pressing this issue solely because he owned a heating and cooling business but also because it was another example of big business and big money dictating some levels of politics. Commissioner Odom stated that the bill allowed big retailers to sell products without any training or certification which was not fair to smaller businesses which offered the same services.
Commissioner Keever made a motion to approve the Resolution to Repeal Senate Bill 1217 and to send a copy to the NCACC and all North Carolina counties in hopes that they might join in on the repeal. Commissioner Odom seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Keever commended Mr. French and staff for drafting this resolution.
BUDGET AMENDMENTS #31 AND #32
Rick French, County Manager, discussed the purpose of Budget Amendments #31 and #32 which included the following information:
Commissioner Hammer made a motion to approve Budget Amendments #31 and #32. Commissioner Keever seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
APPOINTMENTS AND REAPPOINTMENTS
Commissioner Hammer presented the following appointments and reappointments to the Equalization and Review Commission:
Commissioner Hammer made a motion to approve the appointments and reappointments to the Equalization and Review Commission. Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
The following issues were discussed during Other Business:
CLOSED SESSION N.C.G.S. 143-318.11(a)(5) CONTRACTUAL
Commissioner Odom made a motion to enter into Closed Session at 6:29 PM to discuss contractual matters pursuant to N.C.G.S. 143-318.11(a)(5). Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
There being no further business, Commissioner Odom made a motion to adjourn at 7:01 PM. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
W. Darrell Robertson, Chairman Jamie C. Millsaps, Clerk to the Board