May 19, 2003
The Alexander County Board of Commissioners held its regular meeting on Monday, May 19, 2003 in the Catawba Valley Community College / Alexander Center Multipurpose Room, Taylorsville, North Carolina.
CALL TO ORDER
Chairman Robertson called the meeting to order at 6:00 PM.
INVOCATION AND PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Jonathan Williams, student at Ellendale Elementary School, gave the invocation and Ally Walker, also a student at Ellendale Elementary School, led the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.
ADOPTION OF AGENDA
Chairman Robertson requested the addition of Budget Amendment #54 to Agenda Item #4. Commissioner Hammer requested discussion of the veterans flag holders as Agenda Item #4A. Commissioner Odom requested discussion of automatic defibrillators for the Hiddenite Station 2 Gwaltneys Fire Department as Agenda Item #4B.
Commissioner Hammer made a motion to adopt the agenda as amended. Commissioner Keever seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
PUBLIC HEARING: REZONING CASE 03-2: HEFNER
Sylvia Turnmire, Director of Planning & Development, presented Rezoning Case 03-2 submitted by Hal and Victoria Hefner. Mr. and Mrs. Hefner requested rezoning of properties located on Rink Dam Road and Church Road from RA-20 (Residential-Agricultural) to H-C (Highway-Commercial) and L-I (Light Industrial). The properties are listed as Tax ID# D11 Lots 67, 67a, 68, 86, and a portion of 87. The sizes of the properties are 9 acres, 5 acres, 1.2 acres, 2.03 acres, and approximately .50 acres and the current land uses are vacant. Ms. Turnmire stated that zoning within 100 feet of Lots 67, 67a and 68 was RA-20 and N-B to the north and RA-20 to the south, east, and west. The zoning within 100 feet of Lots 86 and the portion of 87 are RA-20 and L-I to the north, RA-20 and N-B to the south, and RA-20 to the east and west. Ms. Turnmire stated that the land uses within 100 feet of Lots 67, 67a, and 68 was commercial and residential to the north as well as vacant and residential to the south, east and west. The land uses within 100 feet of Lots 86 and a portion of 87 are residential and industrial to the north, residential and commercial to the south, commercial and industrial to the east, and residential to the west.
Ms. Turnmire stated that the five subject properties consisted of approximately 17.73 acres along Church Road and Rink Dam Road and she informed the Board that Mr. and Mrs. Hefner wished to rezone Lots 67, 67a and 68 to L-I and Lot 86 and a portion of Lot 87 to H-C. Ms. Turnmire stated that a 7,500 square foot building was proposed on Lot 86 and she noted that one of the subject properties was served by an 8-inch water line on Church Road.
Ms. Turnmire stated that Section 154.170 of the Zoning Ordinance stated: "The purpose of the H-C Highway Commercial District is to provide suitable locations for those commercial activities which serve primarily the traveling public, including those which function rather independently of each other." Ms. Turnmire also stated that Section 154.180 of the Zoning Ordinance stated: "The purpose of the L-I Light Industrial District is to provide for the development of areas devoted to light manufacturing, processing and assembly uses, warehousing, distribution and servicing enterprises and limited office activities controlled by performance standards to limit the effect of such uses on uses within the district and adjacent districts." Ms. Turnmire also noted that the Alexander County Land Development Plan showed these properties as being in a "Limited Transition Area" which is to provide for development in areas that will have some services but that are only suitable for lower densities than those associated with the Urban Transition class and/or areas that are geographically remote from existing towns and municipalities. Areas meeting the intent of the Limited Transition classification will experience increased development (primarily residential) during the planning period. They will be in a state of development necessitating some municipal type services such as community water or sewage systems."
Ms. Turnmire informed the Board that the Planning & Zoning Commission reviewed the rezoning request on May 1, 2003 and unanimously recommended approval of the request.
Chairman Robertson called the public hearing to order and requested any public comment. There being no public comment, Commissioner Keever made a motion to close the public hearing. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Bolick asked Ms. Turnmire if she had received any objections in regard to the rezoning request. Ms. Turnmire stated that she had received 3 phone calls before the Planning & Zoning Commission met which included 2 calls from citizens simply requesting information and one call from a property owner who inquired about the zoning of his property.
Commissioner Bolick made a motion to approve Rezoning Case 03-2. Commissioner Odom seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
DUKE POWER RELICENSING UPDATE
Sylvia Turnmire, Director of Planning & Development, informed the Board that she had spoken with Gary Laws, Hydro Licensing and Compliance Division of Duke Power, on several occasions in regard to the questions that the Board had asked staff to submit. Ms. Turnmire stated that she finally received a response on May 6, 2003 from Jason Walls, also with the Hydro Licensing and Compliance Division, on the following questions:
Response: "Sedimentation is a basin-wide issue that results from multiple causes and land disturbances all over the basin. It is managed through erosion and sedimentation controls at the local and regional level. Duke Power adheres to those laws and regulations during any and all construction projects. We also work cooperatively to help those who wish to dredge apply for and acquire the required permits for any dredging or other necessary activities."
Ms. Turnmire stated that it appeared that Duke Power would only comply with regulations imposed upon them and she noted that they did not provide any proactive strategic plan in reducing the impact to the river basin.
Response: "Duke Powers Catawba-Wateree Hydroelectric Project (FERC #2232) relicensing process is intended to address issues relevant to the operation of the hydroelectric project. The relicensing process will examine potential resource impacts related to reservoir management and hydropower generation. Property outside of the project boundary is not typically a factor in power generation or reservoir management, and is not under our control or the authority of the FERC.
Even though Duke Power and Crescent Resources are owned by the same parent corporation, their operation and management is completely separate. Crescent Resources is; however, a stakeholder in the process as is any other adjoining property owner to the project. Crescent as does any other stakeholder, has the ability to apply and serve on the Regional Advisory Groups, but it will be up to them to make that decision."
Ms. Turnmire stated that the Board could submit input on the relicensing project by May 31, 2003 in letterform to Mark Oakley, Project Coordinator, or online. Ms. Turnmire noted that the Board could also provide public input on issue or study requests if desired.
Chairman Robertson discussed the sedimentation issue and he stated that it was his opinion that Duke Power was more concerned with the amount of water that was coming out of the river to run the hydro plants. Chairman Robertson discussed the need for a working relationship with Duke Power and noted that he would like to see Duke Power work more closely with counties and municipalities in regard to the sedimentation issue.
Commissioner Bolick stated that he was in favor of endorsing the relicensing for Duke Power. Commissioner Bolick stated that it was his opinion that Duke Power took good care of the river and that he was not aware of any complaints.
Commissioner Bolick made a motion to send a letter to Mark Oakley, Project Coordinator, endorsing Duke Powers relicensing. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted 4 in favor of the motion (Commissioners Bolick, Hammer, Odom, and Robertson) and one against the motion (Commissioner Keever). The motion passed.
CONSIDERATION OF POLICY FOR SUPPLEMENTAL AND EMERGENCY WATER SUPPLY
Chairman Robertson stated that the proposed policy for supplemental and emergency water supply was based on changes in water sources and water demand. Chairman Robertson stated that the policy would address emergency water demands and demonstrate how emergency supplies of water would be handled. Chairman Robertson introduced Dennie Martin, McGill Associates, who drafted the proposed policy.
Dennie Martin, McGill Associates, addressed some additional suggestions since the initial distribution of the policy, which included the need to include a definition of bulk users, of whom this policy was primarily intended for, to state that bulk users would be defined as water purchasers who redistribute water to other users. Mr. Martin also noted that a clause was included in the agreement between Alexander County and the City of Hickory that required supplemental or interim users to be subject to the same water conservation policies as all other customers connected to the Alexander County water system. Mr. Martin felt that this needed to be addressed in the proposed policy as well.
Commissioner Odom discussed the first paragraph of the policy which stated: Alexander County, hereinafter referred to as the County, has requests, from time-to-time, from public or private organizations and individuals for potable water that is for supplemental, interim or emergency supply or other purposes other than reoccurring usage. Commissioner Odom expressed his concerns with the wording "individuals" and he asked if the County would charge County citizens whose wells go dry the fees outlined in the policy. Mr. Martin replied that the policy would only apply to bulk users and he noted that the bulk user definition that he discussed earlier would address that particular wording.
Commissioner Odom discussed Item #3 which stated: Such supplemental, interim or emergency water users shall not be provided with permanently installed water meters and therefore, the County shall require a written notification of no less than five (5) days prior to the withdrawal of water to install a temporary point of connection and a meter. Commissioner Odom stated that there were already water valves in place for bulk users. Mr. Martin stated that the clause was included to address future bulk users in the case that there was no connection at the time of an emergency need. Commissioner Odom also stated that it may be necessary to turn on valves in the event of a fire or a water main break and he felt that these issues should be exempt from the 5-day notification. Mr. Martin agreed that these issues needed to be addressed in the policy and asked that the Board designate staff that would have authority to give permission of open valves in those type emergency situations. Chairman Robertson suggested the County Manager, Fire Marshal, and Emergency Management Director.
Commissioner Hammer discussed Item #11 which stated: No supplemental, interim or emergency withdrawals of water may continue for more than six (6) consecutive months without the express permission of the County Manager. Commissioner Hammer discussed shortening the 6-month time period and he noted that he didnt feel that emergency water would be needed for that long. Commissioner Keever noted that in the case of drought the emergency water would be needed for that length of time and possibly longer. Commissioner Hammer then suggested that bulk users correspond with the County Manager in regard to the time length needed for emergency water. Mr. Martin noted that the provision allowed the County Manager to extend the time limit as justified. Chairman Robertson agreed that there needed to be ongoing communication with the County Manager and any bulk user and he asked that this issue be addressed in the policy as well by stating that in any emergency situation, ongoing communication would be maintained between the parties as agreed upon at the beginning of emergency.
Commissioner Odom asked if the rates and fees outlined in the policy compared to other counties. Mr. Martin explained that every countys fees varied widely from system to system depending on the rate structure in place. Mr. Martin stated that the rates and fees outlined in the policy were based on the current rate structure in place for Alexander County.
Commissioner Odom discussed Item #7 which stated: Said rates and fees may be changed by the County at any time, in conjunction with changes in other water rates or independent of general water rate changes. Commissioner Odom asked if Alexander County should anticipate similar charges from other entities in the event that the County was in need of emergency water. Mr. Martin replied that the other entity would have the authority to determine their rates and he noted that Alexander Countys rates would not affect other entities rates.
Chairman Robertson discussed Item #2 which stated: In no case shall such supplemental, interim or emergency requests for water be provided for flows that exceed 1.0 million gallons in a 24-hour period. Chairman Robertson stated that the County was currently able to provide that type of flow but he noted that availability would decrease in time. Mr. Martin informed Chairman Robertson that that issue was discussed in Item #1 which stated: The County shall establish limits to daily supplies and/or rates of flow that may be withdrawn from its water system in response to the periodic demands of water users who request supplemental, interim or emergency water supplies and said limits and rates of flow may be periodically reviewed and changed to insure that they are consistent with the capacity of the Countys water system to address such supplemental, interim and emergency water demands.
Commissioner Odom asked that County staff or Mr. Martin research rate structures to determine if the rates and fees outlined in the policy compared to similar water systems or governmental entities. Commissioner Odom stated that he simply wanted to stay consistent with others.
Mr. Martin requested an effective date for the policy. Commissioner Keever felt that the effective date should be the date that the policy is adopted. The Board agreed.
Chairman Robertson suggested that Mr. Martin present the revised policy at the May 27, 2003 Meeting if possible. Chairman Robertson stated that Mr. Martin could wait and present the policy at the June 2, 2003 Meeting if needed.
BUDGET ORDINANCE AMENDMENTS #48 - #53
Rick French, County Manager, discussed the purpose of Budget Amendments #48 - #54 that included the following information:
Commissioner Odom made a motion to approve Budget Amendments #48 - #54. Commissioner Keever seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Discussion of Veterans Flag Holders
SCHEDULE BUDGET WORK SESSION
Chairman Robertson stated that this agenda item would be discussed along with the 2003-2004 Budget Overview.
2003-2004 BUDGET WORK SESSION AND OVERVIEW
Rick French, County Manager, discussed the meeting schedule for the 2003-2004 budget which included a work session to be held on May 27, 2003 and a public hearing to be held on June 2, 2003, both at 6:00 PM in the CVCC/Alexander Center Multipurpose Room. Mr. French requested an additional work session for June 9, 2003 at 6:00 PM in the CVCC/Alexander Center Multipurpose Room. Mr. French stated that the adoption of the 2003-2004 agenda was tentatively schedule for June 16, 2003. The Board agreed to hold a work session on June 9, 2003 as requested by Mr. French.
Mr. French gave a brief overview of the General Fund budget and he noted that he had not completed the water funds or Solid Waste budget. Mr. French stated that he would present that information at the May 27, 2003 work session.
Mr. French that the proposed General Fund budget totaled $22,912,00 (1.9% less that the 2002-2003 budget). The tax rate will remain at 46.5 with projected revenue of a little more than $8.8 million, which only represents approximately 2% growth in tax revenue. Mr. French stated that the current revenue projection was at $8.7 million at a 95% collection rate. Mr. French stated that the NCACC had projected revenue of $1 million from the half-cent sales tax. However, Mr. French stated that the projection might not be accurate. Mr. French also stated that there was no use of Fund Balance projected within the General Fund for 2003-2004 since the Fund Balance was below 8%.
Mr. French discussed the Solid Waste fund and he noted that there was some leachate problems with the C & D portion of the Landfill. Mr. French stated that staff would be meeting with NCDENR inspectors tomorrow to discuss some possible State requirements, such as moving dirt and sewing grass, for the C & D. Mr. French stated that these requirements would be very expensive and he noted that it appeared that the Solid Waste fund would be $250,000 in the red at the end of the 2002-2003 budget year.
Mr. French stated that 911 and Sheriff Communications would be combined. The 911 Communications budget will include capital that will be required to achieve total Phase 1 and Phase 2 compliance on equipment.
Mr. French informed the Board that Russell Greene, Fire Marshal, would be moved to Planning & Development as a Fire Marshal/Public Works position and he noted that he would like to hire a Deputy or Assistant Fire Marshal to assist in fire inspections and work with the volunteer fire departments. Mr. French stated that the 911 Addressing Coordinator position would be moved into the Tax Office and one inspector position would be budgeted out. Mr. French explained that the Planning & Development Department would be managed by Russell Greene, Doug Kerley, and Sylvia Turnmire. Mr. French also noted that the Planning & Development Department would eventually be relocated to the Old Wittenburg School facility.
Mr. French stated that there would be 4 Sheriffs Department positions moved into the 911 Communications budget due to the consolidation. The Sheriff requested 5 new vehicles and some capital equipment. Mr. French recommended only 4 vehicles for the Sheriffs Department. Mr. French also stated that the Sheriff had requested 2 additional jail positions, which were budgeted. Mr. French explained that the Criminal Justice Partnership Advisory Board had recommended the implementation of the Pretrial Release Program at a cost of $24,317 which would result in a savings of $76,500 to the County.
Mr. French informed the Board that the Department of Social Services budget would be 1.58% less than the current budget and the Health Department would be 2.63% less than the current budget. The Administration budget will be $3,200 less than the current year as well as Finance at $1,285 less, Tax Office at $2,300 less, Register of Deeds at $5,820 less, and EMS at $61,125 less. Mr. French stated that the Transportation budget would increase by $53,714 in capital due to a van replacement. The Recreation budget will decrease from $213,408 to $153,897 and will contain one less employee. Mr. French also noted that Dusty Ridge Park would be completed.
Mr. French stated that the Board of Education had requested $4,720,984; however, Mr. French only recommended $4.5 million. Mr. French stated that this could be increased if the County was not required to make the changes at the Landfill and C & D.
Mr. French stated that the budget would contain 2 programs including $10,000 for a community grants program as well as $20,000 for a public safety grant to help volunteer agencies that have trouble replacing equipment.
Mr. French stated that Contingency totaled $579,676. Contingency includes a 2% Cost of Living increase for employees and related FICA and retirement totaling $150,000 along with $38,000 for property, liability, and workers compensation insurance increases. The remaining funds will be designated for the Landfill.
Mr. French informed the Board that he mailed a notice to the Town of Taylorsville Mayor concerning fees and services increases to be charged for services that the County provided to the Town for little or no compensation. The letter included the following information:
Mr. French stated that, in reviewing these fees and charges, staff acknowledged that the Town of Taylorsville citizens were entitled to County services; however, staff felt that the financing relationship should be comparable to the rest of the citizens in the County.
Chairman Robertson asked if the reimbursements for the recyclables were charged through the Landfill or the General Fund. Mr. French replied that the reimbursements were charged through the Landfill expenses. Jennifer Herman, Finance Officer, noted that the County paid approximately $5,000 quarterly for the reimbursements.
Chairman Robertson inquired about the $250,000 shortfall in Solid Waste and he asked if that included the Landfill and the convenience centers. Mr. French replied that the shortfall did include both the Landfill and the convenience centers. Chairman Robertson suggested the possible need to increase tipping fees at the Landfill as well as phasing out the use of convenience centers which was the recommendation of the Solid Waste Task Force years ago.
Mr. French stated that heavy rain had caused the leachate problems at the Landfill. Mr. French felt that the State should be more understanding because of the rain but he noted that NCDENR was not being cooperative. Mr. French stated that it would be very difficult for the County to comply with the proposed changes because of the expense involved. Mr. French also noted that the County had been "written up" by NCDENR in regard to the plan followed to remove the timber at the Landfill. Mr. French pointed out that the County had worked very closely with the NC Forestry Service in removing the timber and he informed the Board that the Forestry Service would be contacting NCDENR in regard to this matter. Mr. French also discussed the requirement for installing monitoring wells which could cost over $25,000 and could possibly require the County to purchase property and right of way, which would result in more costs.
Chairman Robertson stated that several Board members and the County Manager had met with Representative Edgar Starnes and Senator R.B. Sloan last week and had discussed the fact that County staff never gets uniformed information and direction from the State. Chairman Robertson stated that the group also discussed complaints with NCDENR. Chairman Robertson requested that Mr. French send Representative Starnes and Senator Sloan any information relating to the leachate problem as well as the timber issue.
The following items were discussed during Other Business:
Mr. French commended each volunteer fire department for their efforts to secure grant funding.
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 7:20 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 Odom made a motion to adjourn at 7:45 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