|BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
June 2, 2003
||W. Darrell Robertson, Chairman
||William L. Hammer, Vice-Chairman
||Wesley E. Bolick
||W. Norris Keever
||David S. Odom
||Rick French, County Manager
||Jamie Millsaps, Clerk to the Board
||David Icenhour, Human Resources Director
||Russell Greene, Fire Marshal
||Gary Herman, The Taylorsville Times
||Norris Keever, WACB Radio
The Alexander County Board of Commissioners held its regular
meeting on Monday, June 2, 2003 at 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
Commissioner Odom gave the invocation and Commissioner Hammer
led the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.
ADOPTION OF AGENDA
Chairman Robertson requested the addition of a Closed Session
to discuss contractual matters pursuant to N.C.G.S. 143-318.11(a)(5).
Commissioner Hammer made a motion to adopt the agenda as amended.
Commissioner Keever seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the
PUBLIC HEARING: ALEXANDER COUNTY 2003-2004 PROPOSED BUDGET
Rick French, County Manager stated that the proposed
budget for all County funds and services including General Fund, Water & Sewer, Solid
Waste, Volunteer Fire Departments, Capital Improvements, Emergency 911 System, and
Revaluation totaled $28,566,464.
Mr. French stated that during the past two budget years, the
impact of the state budget cuts had been $1,421,791 for Alexander County. This combined
with the struggling economy, higher Medicaid costs, and lower interest rates made
maintaining essential County services extremely challenging. Last year, Alexander County
adopted an interim budget due to the state budget uncertainty. This year, although the
state budget process is ahead of schedule, the shortfalls still exists. Mr. French
informed the Board that Governor Easley and legislative leaders had reported new, more
pessimistic economic forecasts for the upcoming budget year, predicting a further $55
million drop in state revenue, forcing the General Assembly to contemplate new sources of
money or even more cuts. Easley stated in a letter distributed Thursday that
"economic growth will be weaker than predicted in the separate budgets tentatively
approved by the House and Senate."
Already confronting an estimated $400 million shortfall as a
result of poorer than expected tax collection this spring, law makers face a shortfall of
$456 million. How this translates to North Carolina counties and cities is fairly
predictable given the trends over the past several years by Governor Easley and the
General Assembly. Mr. French noted that was why the Countys proposed budget plan for
2003-2004 would be an "even more conservative work in progress" as Alexander
County approached another fiscal year. Mr. French stated that the "wildcard" in
the budget process would be the Solid Waste Fund, more specifically, the operation of the
landfill and the economic impact of state regulations that monitor construction and debris
landfills, leachate, and other sedimentation and erosion issues.
Mr. French reported that the General Fund proposed budget totaled
$22,912,000 or 1.9% less than the current year budget. The tax rate will remain the same
at 46.5 cents and projected revenue from the increase in property values, based on a 95%
collection rate, will be 2% or $174,000 according to the Tax Administrator. The total
projected revenue from the property tax is $8,881,000. Mr. French stated that the major
factor in increased revenue was the additional revenue generated by the half-cent sales
tax, which was added in January 2003. This sales tax should produce $1 million in
additional revenue, but to date the collection numbers have not been up to the estimates
provided by the NCACC. Mr. French noted that County staff was reviewing these numbers
again for the upcoming budget work session on June 9, 2003. No fund balance has been
budgeted because the current fund balance is below 8% as required by the NC Local
Mr. French reviewed several highlights from the General Fund,
which included the following:
- 2% COLA increase for County employees.
- 4 new vehicles and 2 new jail positions for the Sheriffs Department.
- Reorganized Planning & Inspections Department.
- Consolidated Communications.
- Financing of new communications equipment to be Phase I and Phase II compliant.
- New Pre-Trial Release Program.
- Completion of Dusty Ridge Park.
- Installment purchase for DSS building renovation project.
- $10,000 in Community Grants.
- $20,000 in Public Safety Grants.
Mr. French stated that the Solid Waste Fund totaled $1,411,512 and
he recommended that the Construction and Debris fee of $22.15 be eliminated and the
tipping fee of $44.30 be charged for all trash. This increase is necessary in moving
toward state environmental mandates at the landfill. Mr. French explained that this
increase would still not produce the dollars necessary to make the landfill
self-supporting; therefore, $214,000 would still be needed from the General Fund to
balance the budget. Mr. French stated that a Solid Waste Task Force would be meeting
during the next few months to review all issues related to the landfill.
Mr. French stated that McGill Associates estimated a 5% to 10%
water rate increase. A $400,000 Rural Center Grant is currently under consideration and a
$40,000 supplemental grant will be pursued to develop a better overall plan for the County
water system. Final numbers will be developed for the next budget work session on June 9,
2003. Mr. French also stated that the County would be receiving a 2.4% CPI increase from
the City of Hickory.
Mr. French also discussed the 911 Communications budget. Mr.
French recommended an increase from 68 cents to 80 cents to produce revenue to assist in
the purchase of new radio equipment connecting to the communications consolidation project
in which an estimated $400,000 would be needed to update equipment and provide better
Mr. French stated that all Fire Department budgets would stay
within the current range and he noted that there were no tax increases proposed in the
volunteer fire department budgets.
Mr. French noted that a copy of the proposed budget was available
for public inspection at the County Administration Office, Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM
to 5:00 PM.
Chairman Robertson stated that North Carolina would receive
funding of a $20 billion federal grant and he asked Mr. French if he or County staff had
received any information regarding that grant. Mr. French replied that he had received
some information from the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners that
indicated that North Carolina would receive an 8% reduction in Medicaid payments in
association with the grant. This reduction could save Alexander County approximately
Chairman Robertson called the public hearing to order and
requested any public comment.
Several individuals spoke on behalf of their departments
and/or organizations during including the following:
Rescue Squad Budget
Keith Millsaps, President of the Rescue Squad Board of
Directors, stated that the Rescue Squad had requested a $50,000 allotment from the County
for 2003-2004 as they have for several previous years. However, the recommended allotment
for 2003-2004 includes a 27% decrease for the Rescue Squad or a total allotment of
$36,653. Mr. Millsaps explained that the Countys allotment represented 39% of the
Rescue Squads income during the 2001-2002 budget and 33% during the 2002-2003
budget. Mr. Millsaps felt that a 27% decrease would tremendously affect the operation of
the Rescue Squad and he requested reconsideration of the allotment.
Commissioner Hammer asked if the recommended funding would be
enough to pay for vehicles, buildings, etc. Mr. Millsaps replied that the recommended
allotment would cover capital payments, according to the letter from the County that he
Commissioner Odom expressed his concerns with the recommended
allotment for the Rescue Squad and he stated that even though the funding would provide
for capital and debt service for vehicles and buildings, it would not provide for
insurance, operations, fuel, equipment, etc. Commissioner Odom pointed out that the
volunteer fire departments were not taking a cut and he felt that there were several areas
of the County budget that could be trimmed so that all emergency service organizations
could be treated equally and fairly. Commissioner Odom applauded the volunteer service
provided by the fire departments and the Rescue Squad and he encouraged the Board to
reconsider the allotment.
Commissioner Hammer asked if the Town of Taylorsville appropriated
funding to the Rescue Squad. Mr. Millsaps replied that the Towns allotment totaled
$5,000 for 2002-2003, which represented 3% of the Rescue Squads income.
Doris Stephens, Library Director, discussed the reduction
to the Library budget, which totaled 10.48%. However, when including the loss of state aid
due to the reduction, the total equals a 13.55% reduction. Ms. Stephens explained that the
Library risked losing all state aid if the budget reduction was not a strict, across the
board cut to all County departments. Ms. Stephens informed the Board that the Alexander
County Library expected $89,611 in state aid and she noted that House and the Senate had
restored some additional funding which could result in approximately $96,000 to Alexander
Ms. Stephens also stated that during the last budget process, she
and Mr. French agreed to cut the hours of the 2 Library staff members with the least
seniority in half. However, 3 staff members volunteered to give up 8 hours each per week
so that the 2 other employees would not have to take such a large cut in hours. Ms.
Stephens stated that those staff members were under the impression that this would only be
temporary but she noted that when she received the recommended Library budget, those staff
members were still at 32 hours per week. Ms. Stephens felt that her staff deserved more
and she requested that the board consider restoring staff to full-time status.
Ms. Stephens also stated that she was concerned that her successor
would begin his position with a difficult budget to operate with and the possibility of
losing state aid if the budget wasnt adjusted. Ms. Stephens informed the Board that
she had informally polled several of her Library colleagues and had found that out of 53
counties and one city, there were very few budget cuts and none that were as much as
Alexander Countys Library.
Gary Bebber, Library Board Chairman, began by thanking the Board
as well as Mr. French and David Icenhour, Human Resources Director, for their support
during the hiring process of the new Library Director. Mr. Bebber discussed the days when
the County did not have a library and noted how pleased he was when a library was finally
built. Mr. Bebber stated that the Library served as many citizens source of
information, learning, ideas, etc. Mr. Bebber stated that the Library Board understood
that the County was enduring a period of time when revenue was not plentiful but he
encouraged the Board to take into consideration the sacrifice made by the Library staff.
Mr. Bebber stated that he was concerned that if the hours were not restored, some staff
members would choose to work elsewhere.
Ms. Stephens pointed out that the funding for the bookmobile
maintenance and supplies had been restored in the 2003-2004 budget recommendation but the
staffing required to operate the bookmobile had not.
Commissioner Odom asked if Ms. Stephens and the Library Board
would consider doing without the bookmobile for another year in order to restore staff
hours as requested. Ms. Stephens replied that she would be agreeable and she noted that
the bookmobile could not operate without staff anyway.
Commissioner Odom inquired about the cost of restoring staff to
full-time status. Jennifer Herman, Finance Officer, replied that the cost including
salaries and the Countys portion of FICA and retirement would total a little over
There being no further 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.
Ms. Herman informed the Board that it would cost an additional
$42,000 to restore the original funding request for the Rescue Squad and the requested
hours for Library staff.
Commissioner Hammer stated that he would like to see the Board
fund the Rescue Squad and the Librarys requests if possible. Commissioner Hammer
also felt that the Library was one of the departments hit the hardest in budget cuts
during the last 2 years.
Chairman Robertson informed Mr. Millsaps, Ms. Stephens, and Mr.
Bebber that the Board would take a look at the budget to determine if adjustments could be
made. Chairman Robertson also thanked staff for attending.
PERSONNEL POLICY REVISIONS
David Icenhour, Human Resources Director, discussed several
revisions to the Personnel Policy, previously presented to the Board. Mr. Icenhour
informed the Board that the proposed revisions had been reviewed by Mark Knuckles, Human
Resources Consultant, as well as by County department heads and employees.
Mr. Icenhour discussed the primary changes in the policy, which
included the following:
- Redefine "Grievance" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 4
- Define "Part-time Employee" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 4-5
- Clarify status of exempt and non-exempt employees . .Page 13-15
- Establish "bonus time" for exempt employees . . . . . .Page 14-15
- Improve recruitment guidelines for County Manager . . Page 16
- Link policy with Unlawful Harassment Policy . . . . . . .Page 22-23
- Rewrite "Holiday Compensation" to reflect eight-hour basis .Page 26-27
- Rewrite "Adverse Conditions Leave" . . . . . . . . . . .Page 27-28
- Institute new "Advance Leave" . . . . . . . . . . . Page 30
- Streamline Health Insurance section . . . . . . . . . .Page 39-40
- Clarify "Reduction in Force" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Page 42-43
- Link disciplinary actions with Performance Policy .Page 45
Mr. Icenhour also stated that he had made some minor changes since
the distribution of the revisions to items e and f which included the removal of the
wording "management-level" in item e and removal of the wording
"unlawful" in item f.
Commissioner Keever made a motion to approve the Personnel Policy
revisions as presented. Commissioner Odom seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously
in favor of the motion.
FLAG HOLDER UPDATE
Barbara Poole, Veterans Service Director, gave an update on
the veterans flag holders, which included the following information:
- Total number of graves submitted as of May 1, 2003:
- 1239 graves submitted
- 46 out of 101 cemeteries reported
- Estimated totals:
Flag holders needed-------------------1239
Less-flag holders already placed ------54
Flag holders in stock-------------------105
Balance to purchase-------------------1080
- Proposed cost based on Gohn Manufacturing Quotes:
- $10.50 each ($11.27 each with shipping) for basic U.S. brass flag holders with
- $10.50 each ($11.27 each with shipping) for basic wartime brass flag holders with
- Proposed time period and cost to "catch up" existing graves:
- Two year period: ½ of 1080 = 540 holders x $11.27 = $6,085.80
- Three year period: 1/3 of 1080 = 360 holders x $11.27 = $4,057.20
Ms. Poole recommended that the Board move forward with the 2-year
period since the project had been ongoing for over a year. Ms. Poole also proposed that a
line item be established in the Veterans Service Office budget for the flag holder
- In regards to using the wartime brass flag holders:
- There is no difference in cost if the brass flag holders with rods are used
(peacetime or wartime).
- The County news release did not specify wartime periods be included on list, so
most of the lists only include the veterans name.
- Ms. Poole recommended, if the Board chose to use the wartime flag holders, that the
County purchase the flag holders now in possession of Mr. Gene Thomas. Mr. Thomas has 236
wartime holders in stock at a cost of $2,478. This would be saving $181.72 in shipping
- Ms. Poole also recommended accepting Mr. Thomas offer to assist as a
volunteer in securing wartime information and placement of the flag holders. Mr. Thomas
has also offered to pick up the flag holders, which would save on shipping cost of future
- The County may be able to exchange some of the peacetime flag holders now in stock,
which are already paid for, for some of the wartime flag holders.
- All ordering and records will be done through the Veteran's Service Office.
Commissioner Hammer stated that he appreciated that Mr. Thomas was
willing to volunteer his time to drive to Pennsylvania to pick up the flag holders.
Commissioner Hammer also recommended that the Board approve the 2-year plan.
Commissioner Bolick stated that he and his church was appreciative
of the County allowing them to purchase the flag holders through the Veterans Service
Office. Commissioner Bolick stated that the purpose of purchasing the flag holders was to
honor all U.S. service men and women and he felt that placing wartime flag holders that
delineated conflicts was giving the impression that one veteran was more significant than
another. However, Commissioner Bolick stated that he would still vote in favor of the
purchase of the flag holders.
Ms. Poole informed the Board that many cemeteries had chosen to
only use the basic U.S. peacetime flag holders instead of the wartime flag holders.
Commissioner Odom made a motion to implement the 2-year plan for
consideration during the ongoing budget discussions and to purchase the 236 flag holders
currently in possession of Gene Thomas at a cost of $2,478. Commissioner Keever seconded
the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Chairman Robertson conveyed his appreciation to Ms. Poole for the
work she had put into this project and to Mr. Thomas for offering to volunteer his time.
BUDGET ORDINANCE AMENDMENTS #55 - #60
Rick French, County Manager, discussed the purpose of Budget
Amendments #55 - #60, which included the following information:
- Budget Amendment #55 To budget for the purchase of sponsor signs at Dusty
- Budget Amendment #56 To amend the budget for financing costs associated with
issuing debt for schools.
- Budget Amendment #57 Also to amend the budget for financing costs associated
with issuing debt for schools.
- Budget Amendment #58 To budget for the payment of a deductible for Law
Enforcement/Public Official liability insurance. To amend the budget for Article 44
half-cent sales tax collections that were lower than expected.
- Budget Amendment #59 To increase the budget for the CVCC debt service
payment due in June 2003. To transfer funds for merit bonuses paid in March, April, and
- Budget Amendment #60 To budget for the City of Hickory administrative fee
for water billing/collections. To budget for advertising and other costs to establish the
Bethlehem Sewer District.
Commissioner Hammer made a motion to approve Budget Amendments #55
- #60. Commissioner Odom seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the
ALEXANDER COUNTY 2003-2004 PROPOSED BUDGET WORK SESSION
Rick French, County Manager, informed the Board that Doris
Stephens, Library Director, had already spoken during the public hearing regarding the
Library Budget. Mr. French stated that Sheriff Hayden Bentley, who was also scheduled to
speak, had informed him earlier that he would not be able to attend the meeting and would
make plans to address the Board at the June 9, 2003 Meeting.
The following items were discussed during Other Business:
- Rick French, County Manager, discussed the plaque for the CVCC/Alexander Center to
be mounted on the outside of the building. The plaque will include the names of County
Commissioners and CVCC Board Members involved in the planning and construction of the
CVCC/Alexander Center. Mr. French stated that CVCC would pay for half the cost of the
plaque and he noted that an open house would be held either on August 17 or 24, 2003. The
Board agreed to move forward with the purchase of the plaque.
- Mr. French informed the Board that the EMS QRV was involved in an accident shortly
after lunch today. Paramedic Terry B. Fox was uninjured; however, the vehicle was totaled.
- Commissioner Odom informed the Board that he had accepted the Town Manager position
with the Town of Taylorsville and he noted that he would begin that position later in the
month. Commissioner Odom stated that he was not required to resign his position as County
Commissioner but had decided to do so because he felt such action would be in the best
interest of the citizens as well as both County and Town elected officials. Commissioner
Odom stated that the main reason for accepting the position was because he would be able
to focus more on and spend more time with his wife, his 3-year old son, and his future
child to be born this fall. Commissioner Odom stated that he would resign at the end of
the June 9, 2003 Meeting and he requested some time during that meeting to speak and
properly thank several individuals.
Chairman Robertson stated that he would miss Commissioner
Odoms friendship as well as his service to the Board, especially in matters of
rescue, fire, emergency services, etc. Chairman Robertson also mentioned a letter from
Joel Harbinson on behalf of the Democrat Executive Committee, which Chairman Robertson
asked to be made part of the official minutes of the meeting. Chairman Robertson explained
that the Democrat Executive Committee had recommended that Mr. Harbinson be installed as
County Commissioner to fill the seat to be vacated by Commissioner Odom. Mr. Harbinson
will be given an oath of office by Seth Chapman at the beginning of the June 16, 2003
Commissioner Bolick stated that it had been a pleasure serving
with Commissioner Odom.
- Tax Release Request for May $1,429.18 and Tax Refund Requests for May $378.79
- Minutes from April 21, 2003 Regular Commissioners Meeting; May 5, 2003
Regular Commissioners Meeting; and May 19, 2003 Regular Commissioners Meeting.
- Home and Community Care Block Grant FY 2004.
Commissioner Keever made a motion to approve the Consent Agenda.
Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the
CLOSED SESSION N.C.G.S. 143-318(a)(5) CONTRACTUAL
Commissioner Bolick made a motion to enter into Closed Session
at 7:25 PM to discuss contractual matters pursuant to N.C.G.S. 143-318(a)(5). Commissioner
Keever 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 8:00 PM. Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion. The Board voted
unanimously in favor of the motion.
W. Darrell Robertson, Chairman
Jamie C. Millsaps, Clerk to the Board