|BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
June 16, 2003
||W. Darrell Robertson, Chairman
||William L. Hammer, Vice-Chairman
||Wesley E. Bolick
||W. Norris Keever
||Joel C. Harbinson
||Rick French, County Manager
||Jamie Millsaps, Clerk to the Board
||David Icenhour, Human Resources Director
||Gary Herman, The Taylorsville Times
||Norris Keever, WACB Radio
The Alexander County Board of Commissioners held its regular
meeting on Monday, June 16, 2003 in the Catawba Valley Community College / Alexander
Center Multipurpose Room, Taylorsville, North Carolina. A reception was held in honor of
former Commissioner David Odom prior to the meeting at which the Board of Commissioners
presented Mr. Odom with a plaque in recognition of his service on the Board. Former
Alexander County Sheriff Ray Warren presented a plaque to Mr. Odom on behalf of the
Alexander County Democrat Party. Gifts were also given to Mr. Odoms wife, Tamara,
and son, Daniel, from the Board and Administration staff.
CALL TO ORDER
Chairman Robertson called the meeting to order at 6:05 PM.
INVOCATION AND PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Rev. Jerry Gwaltney, Pastor of Pilgrim Baptist Church, gave the
invocation and former Commissioner David Odom led the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.
ADOPTION OF AGENDA
Commissioner Hammer made a motion to adopt the agenda as
presented. Commissioner Keever seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor
of the motion.
SWEARING IN OF JOEL HARBINSON TO THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
Seth Chapman, Clerk of Court, gave the oath of office for the
position of County Commissioner to Joel Harbinson.
CONSIDERATION OF FOOTHILLS MENTAL HEALTH LOCAL BUSINESS PLAN
Chairman Robertson briefly discussed the Local Business Plan
for Foothills Mental Health Area Program and he noted that the Foothills Area Program
administered mental health, substance abuse, and developmental disability treatment for
Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, and McDowell counties. Chairman Robertson stated that he
served on the Foothills Board of Directors as well as Rick French, County Manager, and Dr.
Josephine Foster, Board of Education. Chairman Robertson noted that Dr. Jane Teague also
served on the Foothills Board of Directors. Chairman Robertson informed the Board that he
as well as Mr. French had a copy of the Local Business Plan if any Board member wished to
review the plan.
Steve Corley, Foothills Area Director/CEO, presented the Local
Business Plan and explained that the plan included details in regard to the current
program as well as the reformation into a local management entity or manager of services.
Mr. Corley stated that the NC Department of Health and Human Services developed a plan
that outlined how the Local Business Plan had to be constructed and what information had
to be included and he noted that many hours were put into the plan by Foothills staff as
well as consumers who received treatment. Mr. Corley introduced Ron Kendrick, Chairman of
Client and Family Advocacy Counseling, who was very instrumental in the development of the
plan. Mr. Corley informed the Board that the Foothills Board of Directors adopted the plan
on Thursday, June 12, 2003 and he stated that NC law required that the plan be adopted by
the Boards of Commissioners of the counties in which Foothills served.
Mr. Corley stated that the Local Business Plan was 674 pages in
length but he noted that a 12 page executive summary was available that included
information on how Foothills would go from being a provider of services to a manager of
services or a local management entity during the next 3 years.
Mr. Corley stated that since its inception in the early 1970s,
Foothills has had the overall responsibility for the provision of mental health, substance
abuse, and developmental disability services. Mr. Corley explained that the General
Assembly and the executive branch had implemented a reform system in order to convert
Foothills from a provider of services to a manager of services due to the demand of
decreasing resources. Mr. Corley stated that Foothills currently employed 312 individuals
as a provider of services and would only employ 58 as a manager of services. Mr. Corley
explained that as a provider of services, Foothills would take in new clients, manage
existing clients, and ensure that those clients received the correct amount of service for
their particular need. The clients will be divided into target and non-target populations.
Mr. Corley explained that the target population would consist of individuals with serious
and severe problems with mental illness, substance abuse, or developmental disabilities
and he noted that service would be provided through Foothills. The non-target population
will consists of individuals with less serious problems and service will be provided
through cooperative organizations such as Alcoholic Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous,
faith-based organizations, Social Services, etc.
Commissioner Keever requested a copy of the executive summary. Mr.
Corley gave a copy of the executive summary to Jamie Millsaps, Clerk to the Board, to
distribute to the Board.
Commissioner Keever made a motion to approve the Local Business
Plan for Foothills Mental Health Area Program. Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion.
The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Chairman Robertson recognized Dr. Jane Teague, member of the
Foothills Board of Director and Director of the Exceptional Childrens Program with
Alexander County Schools. Chairman Robertson informed the Board that Dr. Teagues
program was recognized by the State last year and he conveyed his appreciation to Dr.
Teague for her interest in the children of Alexander County.
PUBLIC HEARING: APPROVAL OF ROAD NAMES
Rick French, County Manager, requested approval of the
following road names:
||Off Winterhaven Road
||JR Matheson Lane
||Off Whitson Hill Lane
||Joe Lackey Lane
||Off Hill River Road
||Off Wellman Road
Mr. French stated that all roads had been
advertised and checked for duplication and sound indexing.
Chairman Robertson asked if staff had received any problems or
complaints in regard to the proposed road names. Sylvia Turnmire, Director of Planning
& Development, replied that staff had not received any complaints.
There being no public comment, Commissioner Bolick made a motion
to close the public hearing. Commissioner Keever seconded the motion. The Board voted
unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Keever made a motion to approve the road names as
presented. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor
of the motion.
PUBLIC HEARING: SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT PLAN (3-YEAR UPDATE)
Rick French, County Manager, presented a copy of the 3-year
update of the 10-year Solid Waste Management Plan completed by Municipal Engineering and
he explained that NC law required the County to hold a public hearing and adopt a
resolution to update the plan. Mr. French informed the Board that the Town of Taylorsville
had already adopted the 3-year update.
Commissioner Keever pointed out that the hours of operation
specified in the 3-year update were incorrect. Mr. French replied that he was aware of
that and he noted that those hours would be corrected.
Commissioner Harbinson asked if the 3-year update addressed the
anticipated $1.00 entry fee for the convenience centers. Mr. French replied that the plan
did not address any fees and he explained that the plan simply included procedures and
Chairman Robertson discussed the future re-establishment of the
Solid Waste Task Force and he asked if the task force could amend the plan if needed. Mr.
French replied that the task force could do so.
There being no public comment, Commissioner Keever made a motion
to close the public hearing. Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion. The Board voted
unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Keever made a motion to approve the 3-year update of
the Solid Waste Management Plan to include the corrections to the hours of operation.
Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the
Chairman Robertson suggested that an appendix be established
during the next update to allow for changes instead of changing the entire plan.
CONSIDERATION OF 2003-2004 ALEXANDER COUNTY BUDGET
Rick French, County Manager, presented the 2003-2004 budget
ordinance and budget message, which included a proposed budget of $28,344,931 for all
funds and County departments. Mr. French stated that the proposed General Fund budget
totaled $22,805,043 and he noted that the proposed budget was 2.1% less that the current
year budget. The proposed tax rate remained at 46.5 cents.
Mr. French discussed some highlights from the General Fund, which
- 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 suggested that the Construction and Debris Landfill fee of $22.15 be eliminated and the
tipping fee of $44.30 be charged for all trash. Mr. French explained that the increase was
necessary in moving forward with state environmental mandates. Mr. French also noted that
the $1.00 entry fee would be implemented for the convenience sites for the first 3 bags of
Mr. French stated that the budget included an 8% increase in
residential water rates as well as an increase from 68 cents to 80 cents in the 911
Communications budget. Mr. French also noted that all fire department budgets would remain
within the current range.
Chairman Robertson mentioned that the problems with the State
budget shortfall had impacted Alexander by $1,421,791 during the last 2 years.
Chairman Robertson asked for comments by the Board.
Commissioner Harbinson stated that, being sworn in just prior to
this meeting, he had not had a chance to give input on budget and he noted that there were
several things that he wished to point out. Commissioner Harbinson stated that even though
the level of spending of the proposed 2003-2004 budget was about the same as the current
budget, he noted that the 2003-2004 budget would increase taxes because he considered any
money taken from the citizens by the government a tax. Commissioner Harbinson pointed out
4 areas that would be increased including an 8% increase in residential water rates, an
18% increase in the 911 surcharge, an increase in the C & D landfill rate from $22.15
to $44.30, and the $1.00 entry fee or "trash tax" at the convenience sites.
Commissioner Harbinson stated that he was against the
consolidation of 911 and Sheriffs Department Communications. Commissioner Harbinson
stated that he could not recall any complaints with the current divided system and he felt
that consolidating the 2 systems would cost money instead of save money. Commissioner
Harbinson stated that the 2003-2004 budget included a 5% decrease in local funding for the
school system and he explained that the decrease was equivalent to each elementary school
losing one teacher or 2 computers for each elementary classroom.
Commissioner Harbinson also stated that another problem he had
with the proposed budget was the fact that the commissioners salaries were being
increased from $400 per month to $600. Commissioner Harbinson admitted that he had voted
in favor of this action during his last meeting on the prior Board but he explained that
it had always been a matter of courtesy for the outgoing Board to raise the salaries of
the incoming Board. Commissioner Harbinson felt that it would be hard to justify a 50%
increase in commissioners pay when County employees were only receiving a 2%
increase. Commissioner Harbinson suggested using the additional funding of $12,000 and
appropriating it to the Rescue Squad whose budget was cut by approximately $13,500.
Commissioner Harbinson discussed the new one person Solid Waste
Enforcement Department, which has a budget of $40,000. Commissioner Harbinson stated that
his problem with this department was due to the fact that a former landfill employee who
was laid off during the last budget year and rehired soon after the election was filling
the Solid Waste Enforcement Officer position. Commissioner Harbinson asked how funding was
found to rehire only this person when 12 other County employees were laid off last year
during the budget crunch. Commissioner Harbinson also asked why this position was being
budgeted when there was essentially a hiring freeze for other County employees such as
Sheriff deputies and EMS paramedics. Commissioner Harbinson also asked why this position
was to be stationed in the Health Department instead of at the Landfill and included in
the Solid Waste budget. Commissioner Harbinson suggested splitting the $40,000
appropriated for this budget between the Chamber of Commerce, whose budget was reduced by
50%, and the Library, which needs another $20,000 to resume normal hours and to guarantee
that staff returns to full-time status.
Commissioner Harbinson noted that for those reasons he would be
voting against the budget. Commissioner Harbinson asked that the Board not take his vote
personally but to take it as a philosophical difference.
Commissioner Bolick stated that in discussion, the Board felt that
there was no way taxes could be raised this year because of the increasing number of
people being laid off. Commissioner Bolick stated that he had received calls from citizens
who had done without medicine or groceries just to pay their property taxes. Commissioner
Bolick noted that there were things in the proposed budget that he didnt like but he
felt that there werent too many other alternatives and would therefore be voting in
favor of the proposed budget. Commissioner Bolick felt that Rick French, County Manager,
had done a great job since he has been employed with the County and he thanked him for his
Commissioner Hammer felt that the consolidated communications was
desperately needed because it would save time and provide better security for the jail.
Commissioner Hammer discussed the incident when his home was broken into. His daughter
called 911 and was switched to the Sheriffs Department, which took 20 to 30 seconds.
Commissioner Hammer noted that the consolidation would eliminate the delay because no one
would have to be transferred from one department to another. Commissioner Hammer also
discussed the water rate increase and he explained that the increase would generate
capital funds to install water lines. Commissioner Hammer also stated that the reasoning
for the re-establishment of the $1.00 entry fee at the landfill was so that citizens who
rent and do not pay property taxes could help support the convenience sites like those who
own property. Commissioner Hammer also stated that there were many things included in the
budget that he didnt like but he noted that he would be voting in favor of the
Commissioner Keever pointed out that no budget would ever be
perfect or accepted by everyone. Commissioner Keever stated that the budget was, in fact,
a work in progress, and he noted that every budget adopted had always been altered. He
stated that he would be voting in favor of the proposed budget because it was a step in
the right direction.
Chairman Robertson stated that a budget would never be a perfect
document and he noted that 2 contingency funds had been set up for emergency services and
for the Library to provide some additional funding as needed. Chairman Robertson stated
that the Fund Balance was at 2.1% earlier this budget year and he discussed the importance
of having at least an 8% Fund Balance, as required by the LGC, in order to borrow money
for school and county projects. Chairman Robertson stated that, according to Finance
staff, the Fund Balance would be a little over 7% at the end of this budget year.
Chairman Robertson thanked Mr. French, Finance Officer Jennifer
Herman, department heads, and staff for their efforts and contributions to the 2003-2004
budget process. Chairman Robertson also thanked former Commissioner David Odom for his
efforts in regard to the proposed budget.
Commissioner Keever made a motion to adopt the 2003-2004 Alexander
County Budget as presented. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted 4 in
favor of the motion (Commissioners Bolick, Hammer, Keever, and Robertson) and one against
the motion (Commissioner Harbinson). The motion passed.
ALEXANDER COUNTY TAX COLLECTIONS UPDATE
Luther Stocks, Tax Administrator, gave a report on the status
of collections for the Tax Office as of May 1, 2003, which included the following:
- The Tax Office is currently trying to implement procedures to increase the
collection rate for Alexander County. Mr. Stocks stated that staff was sending
correspondence to delinquent taxpayers informing them of the result of not paying their
taxes. This action is having some positive results on collections.
- Staff has also submitted accounts that are over 3 years delinquent to Caryn
Brzykcy, a local attorney, with the exception of those taxpayers making payments. The
accounts that have been submitted to Mrs. Brzykcy involve real estate.
- Rick French, County Manager, and Mr. Stocks met with Mrs. Brzykcy on March 2, 2003
to discuss the status of delinquent accounts that she has been working on. Mr. French had
been instructed by the Board to allow Mrs. Brzykcy to continue working on the accounts
that she had been given and for the Tax Office to not submit any more accounts to her at
this time. At a meeting held on June 3, 2003, Mrs. Brzykcy informed Mr. Stocks that she
would have some accounts going to sale in July.
- Mr. Stocks met with Robert Campbell, County Attorney, on June 5, 2003 in reference
to the possibility of submitting delinquent accounts to his office. Mr. Campbell stated
that his time was limited because of his workload, but he noted that he would be willing
to help explain to the Board the pros and cons of in rem foreclosures versus regular
- Mr. Stocks met with Sheriff Hayden Bentley concerning sheriffs execution and
the sale of property. Mr. Stocks stated that the Tax Office could perform the levy and
sale of property but he noted that staff felt that serving an execution by a law
enforcement officer would bring a better response for collections. As per discussion, at
this time, Sheriff Bentley does not have the manpower to help in this area due to the
current workload of the department.
- Staff is continuing to work delinquent accounts through the process of garnishment
and attachments. The Tax Office has received delinquent taxes by garnishment proceedings
in the amount of $79,767 as of June 2002. Mr. Stocks reported that staff had received
$114,136 from July 2002 through May 2003 and a total of $193,903 in garnishment payments
since an employee was assigned to work on garnishments full time.
- The State Debt Setoff Program was implemented in January 2002. This program allows
a delinquent taxpayers state tax refund check or a portion to be sent to the County
to be applied to delinquent taxes. Mr. Stocks stated that staff was not able to get the
data to the state in time to receive a lot of tax money for this year due to software and
programming problems, but staff hopes to receive more for the upcoming year. As of this
date the Tax Office has received $508.
- The Tax Office still has many problems with vehicle collections. Mr. Stocks stated
that staff would continue to utilize all collection measures in an effort to increase the
Mr. Stocks distributed a collection/levy report for 1999-2002 as
well collection rates from several other counties in North Carolina for comparison. Mr.
Stocks discussed the plans for the upcoming year, which included:
Garnishments and bank attachments: Staff will continue working
with attachments and garnishments wages on delinquent accounts.
Debt Setoff: The Tax Office will continue working with the debt
setoff program. Staff is in hopes of receiving more funds from state income tax refunds in
the upcoming year.
Foreclosures: Staff will follow the direction of the Board in
regard to foreclosures on delinquent real property accounts.
Sheriff Executions: Staff would like to be able to utilize some
help from the Sheriffs Department with serving levies on delinquent personal and
real property accounts. Mr. Stocks stated that he felt that this would increase
collections of delinquent accounts.
Commissioner Harbinson noted that the Sheriffs Department
would need a lot more manpower in order to serve levies on delinquent accounts.
Commissioner Bolick felt that the sheriff executions should be
considered as a last resort since there were some hardship cases in the county.
Commissioner Bolick felt that it was bad enough to get a bill you couldnt pay but
worse when the Sheriffs Department served papers on you for not paying.
Chairman Robertson stated that he was aware that some citizens had
circumstances that would be considered as hardship cases and he noted that those citizens
could contact Mr. Stocks in order to work out some terms and payments for those taxes.
BUDGET ORDINANCE AMENDMENT #61 AND #62
Rick French, County Manager, discussed the purpose of Budget
Amendments #61 and #62 that included the following information:
- Budget Amendment #61 To adjust the budget for lease payments (originals
estimates were too low).
- Budget Amendment #62 To budget for May and June income from the NC
Department of Corrections. To budget for payment of deductibles for automobile and general
liability insurance. To budget for additional grant funds from the Criminal Justice
Commissioner Keever made a motion to approve Budget Amendments #61
and #62. Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor
of the motion.
The following items were discussed during Other Business:
- Rick French, County Manager, requested that the Board schedule a public hearing for
the July 14, 2003 Commissioners Meeting at 6:00 PM for discussion of the
Manufactured Housing Appearance Criteria. Mr. French stated that the Planning & Zoning
Commission would be in attendance at that meeting. The Board agreed to schedule the public
hearing as requested.
- Mr. French requested that the Board schedule a Special Called Meeting for Thursday,
June 26, 2003 at 12:00 Noon at the County Office to review and approve the bids for the
Rink Dam Road Water Project. Commissioner Harbinson stated that he would be out of town at
that time but he urged the Board to move forward with the meeting. The Board agreed to
schedule the Special Called Meeting as requested.
- Russell Greene, Fire Marshal, stated that the County currently had 2 applications
submitted into the Rural Center including a $3 million grant application for sewer in
Bethlehem and a $400,000 supplemental water grant to install water lines along Highway 127
and Antioch Church Road. Mr. Greene explained that the Rural Center had reviewed the grant
applications and mailed a letter back to County staff requesting that the Board adopt a
Capital Improvement Plan for the $400,000 supplemental water grant as well as a Mandatory
Connection Policy for the $3 million sewer application.
Mr. Greene distributed a resolution approving a Mandatory
Connection Policy. Commissioner Hammer made a motion to approve the Mandatory Connection
Policy as presented. Commissioner Keever seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously
in favor of the motion.
Mr. Greene also distributed the Capital Improvement Plan, which
described where the current water system was and outlined future projects. Commissioner
Keever made a motion to adopt the Capital Improvement Plan as presented. Commissioner
Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
- Update for Alexander County Drug & Alcohol Policy for Transportation.
Commissioner Bolick made a motion to adopt the Consent Agenda.
Commissioner Keever seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the
Commissioner Keever congratulated Jamie Millsaps, Clerk to the
Board, on her recent engagement. The Board extended congratulations to Ms. Millsaps and
her fiance, Casey Starnes.
There being no further business, Commissioner Hammer made a
motion to adjourn at 7:30 PM. Commissioner Keever seconded the motion. The Board voted
unanimously in favor of the motion.
W. Darrell Robertson, Chairman
Jamie C. Millsaps, Clerk to the Board