Draft

BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS 

ALEXANDER COUNTY

REGULAR MEETING

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA

October 6, 2003

PRESENT: W. Darrell Robertson, Chairman
William L. Hammer, Vice-Chairman
Wesley E. Bolick
Joel C. Harbinson
W. Norris Keever
STAFF: Rick French, County Manager
Jamie Millsaps, Clerk to the Board
David Icenhour, Human Resources Director
MEDIA: Gary Herman, The Taylorsville Times
Norris Keever, WACB Radio

 

The Alexander County Board of Commissioners held its regular meeting on Monday, October 6, 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

Rev. Howard Smith, Bethlehem Church of God, gave the invocation and Aaron Mclean, NJROTC Cadet Master Chief and Units Operations Officer, led the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

CHAIRMAN’S REPORT

Chairman Robertson informed the Board that Duke Power Company would be holding a Regional Storm Preparedness Information Session on October 20, 2003 at Duke Power’s Hickory Operations Center.  Chairman Robertson noted that all commissioners and County staff were invited to attend.

ADOPTION OF AGENDA

Chairman Robertson requested the addition of a Resolution Declaring October 2003 as AARP Month in Alexander County. 

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.

DISCUSSION OF THE REMOTE SALES TAX ISSUE

Rick French, County Manager, discussed the collection of remote sales taxes, which would generate additional revenue for counties and cities in N.C.  Mr. French informed the Board that legislation was introduced 2 weeks ago in Washington D.C. to address this issue.  Mr. French explained that the U.S. Congress was the only entity that could address and change the way remote sales taxes were collected and he noted that, so far, 34 states had signed on to comply with the legislation.  Mr. French stated that the N.C. General Assembly recently enacted the legislation to comply with the process.

Mr. French stated that according to a study completed by the University of Tennessee, untaxed remote sales would exceed $26 billion in 2003 and over $45 billion by the year 2006.   The share for N.C. is estimated at $680 million in 2003 and over $1 billion by 2006.  Mr. French mentioned that the estimate for Alexander County for 2003 totaled over $400,000. 

Chairman Robertson stated that a major factor in the collection of the remote sales tax was purchases over the Internet.  Chairman Robertson stated that these purchases put local businesses at a disadvantage due to the fact that taxes were collected on items purchased at local businesses; however, taxes were not collected on items purchased over the Internet and could not benefit the county.

Commissioner Keever suggested that the Board, as well as all small business owners in the county, contact local representatives in support of this action.  Commissioner Keever also noted that the N.C. Association of County Commissioners had sent a representative to Washington D.C. to lobby for passage of this bill.

Commissioner Harbinson stated that the Board had discussed this issue several years ago and he noted that this would be something to protect local businesses.

Commissioner Harbinson made a motion for a resolution to be drafted in support of the remote sales tax collection effort.  Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion.  The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

Chairman Robertson asked that the resolution be placed on the agenda for the October 20, 2003 work session and, after approval, be sent to all N.C. Senators and Representatives as well as the NCACC.

REPORT ON ABANDONED HOUSE COMPLAINT

Sylvia Turnmire, Director of Planning & Development, presented an update on a complaint on an abandoned house located at 94 West Jay Drive.  Ms. Turnmire stated that she had contacted the property owners, Janet Moore and Maria Moore, who stated that they wished to repair the house; however, they noted that they were in need of financial assistance to do the repairs.  Ms. Turnmire stated that she had visited the property today to take pictures and she noted that she spoke with Karen Howell, complainant, and Ms. Howell’s father.  Ms. Turnmire mentioned that the County Attorney was researching the process that the County would have to follow in order to demolish the house, which would cost approximately $1,500.

Chairman Robertson noted that the estimate of $1,500 did not include fees for the C & D Landfill, which would need to be added.  Chairman Robertson also asked if CDBG funding could be used for the extensive renovation to the house.  Ms. Turnmire replied that she had contacted Nancy Coley, WPCOG Community Development Administrator, regarding the use of CDBG funds.  Ms. Coley informed Ms. Turnmire that CDBG funds could not be used for renovation of this house because it was a vacant dwelling.

Commissioner Bolick inquired about how long this problem had been ongoing.  Ms. Turnmire replied that the complaint had originally been filed with Environmental Health in January 2002 and with Planning & Development in February 2002.  Ms. Turnmire noted that the house was condemned on April 30, 2002.

Commissioner Bolick asked Ms. Turnmire if the County had ever took on the responsibility of demolishing a house.  Ms. Turnmire replied that there were no records of the County ever demolishing a house at the request of a citizen.  Commissioner Bolick asked if the County would be breaking any law by not demolishing the house.  Ms. Turnmire stated that the General Statutes did allow the Board of Commissioners to condemn property, order it vacated, and demolish or repair the property; however, she noted that there was a specific process to be followed, which the County Attorney was researching at the present time.  Ms. Turnmire did note that the Board would not be breaking any law by not demolishing the house.

Chairman Robertson stated that if the house met the criteria as being a health risk or an attractive nuisance, the County had the right to demolish it.  Chairman Robertson also noted that the cost of demolition could be assessed against the property.

The Board agreed to table this issue until a opinion was received from the County Attorney.

REPORT ON NEW FLOOD INSURANCE RATE MAPPING INITIATIVE

Sylvia Turnmire, Director of Planning & Development, informed the Board that Ed Curtis, N.C. Flood Plain Mapping Program, visited Alexander County this afternoon to meet with members of County and Town staff in regards to a mapping initiative to identify flood prone areas in Alexander County. 

Ms. Turnmire explained that this process began after Hurricane Floyd hit eastern N.C.  FEMA and the State decided then to remap N.C. and update the status of flood prone areas.  Ms. Turnmire stated that the eastern section of N.C. (Phase I) would be completed in December 2004, the middle section (Phase II) would be completed in December 2005, and the western section (Phase III) would be completed in December 2006.  Ms. Turnmire stated that representatives were meeting with staff in each county to determine areas of concern and she noted that 16 creeks or streams and 1 river had been identified as areas that needed a detailed study in Alexander County.  Ms. Turnmire stated that 7 of the 16 creeks and streams identified had never been studied as being in the flood plain; the 9 others have been studied but not in detail.  Ms. Turnmire also stated that the entire stretch of the Catawba River from Lake Hickory to Lookout Shoals involved some flood prone areas that would be studied as well.

Ms. Turnmire informed the Board that the mapping initiative, once completed, would be presented to the Board to review and to allow any changes to be made before final adoption.  

Commissioner Hammer asked if the study would identify structures and land masses that would be prone to floods when completed.  Ms. Turnmire replied that the study, which would survey the elevation to determine flood prone areas, would be overlaid with the GIS system parcel data to determine what structures and parcels would be subject to flooding.

The Board thanked Ms. Turnmire for her update.

PUBLIC SAFETY GRANTS PROGRAM UPDATE

David Icenhour, Human Resources Director, gave an update on the Public Safety Grants Program originally presented at the September 22, 2003 Commissioners’ Meeting.  Mr. Icenhour suggested that the Grant Application Review Committee be made up of himself, County Manager Rick French, and Assistant Fire Marshal Jason Williams. 

Mr. Icenhour informed the Board that he had completed a mailing to all Fire Departments and the Rescue Squad to ensure that they had the proper information to apply for a grant and he noted that Russell Greene, Fire Marshal, would discuss the Public Safety Grants Program tonight at the Fireman’s Association Meeting.  Mr. Icenhour recommended that the Board agreed to move forward with the original deadline of November 28, 2003.

Commissioner Keever made a motion to approve the Public Safety Grants Program along with the Grant Application Review Committee as presented as well as the November 28, 2003 deadline for applications.  Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion.  The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

AUDIT REPORT FOR 2002-2003

Rick French, County Manager, presented the 2002-2003 Audit Report for Alexander County, which was presented to the Audit Committee on September 29, 2003.  The report included the following information:

            Audit Results

        Unreserved fund balance $1,440,020

        Increase in fund balance $1,490,953

        Unreserved fund balance is 7% of general fund expenditures

Fund Balance History

        $4,896,398 in year 2000

        $9,897,479 in year 2001

        $2,784,527 in year 2002

        $4,275,480 in year 2003

Property Valuation History

        $1,319,805 in year 2000

        $1,379,047 in year 2001

        $1,443,743 in year 2002

        $1,995,247 in year 2003

Comparative Averages for NC Counties with Population of 25,000 to 49,999

                                                                        Alexander County                        Average

Available GF fund balance                          $1,440,020                          $7,114,360

Property tax rate                                                 0.465                                 0.6688

Appraisal adjusted rate                                      0.4185                                 0.5385

Collection percentage                                        95.17%                               95.01%

Collection percentage:

                        Excluding MV                                     96.30%                              96.33%

                        Motor Vehicles                                    87.91%                                84.72%

            Net Cost of Services Provided – General Fund

        Education 38%

        Public Safety 23%

        Human Services 24%

        General Government 9%

        Cultural and Recreation 2%

        Environmental Protection 1%

        Interest and Fees 3%

Article 44 New Half-Cent Sales Tax

        New tax generated $525,531 for half of 2003

        Repealed reimbursements were over $1,000,000

        Hold-harmless provision was included in the 2003-2004 budget

General Fund Revenues for 2002 and 2003

        Ad Valorem Taxes - $9,048,059 for year 2002 and $9,373,507 for year 2003

        Other Intergovernmental Taxes - $3,915,062 for year 2002 and $3,833,255 for year 2003

        Local Option Sales Tax - $4,588,416 for year 2002 and $5,281,617 for year 2003

        Sales and Services - $2,077,263 for year 2002 and $2,087,171 for year 2003

        Permits, Fees, and Other Revenues - $575,770 for year 2002 and $572,826 for year 2003

        Reimbursement Tax Revenue - $542,062 for year 2002 and $0 for year 2003

        Investment Earnings - $80,709 for year 2002 and $34,173 for year 2003

        Other Taxes and Licenses - $91,216 for year 2002 and $99,780 for year 2003

General Fund Expenditures for 2002 and 2003

        Human Services - $7,833,011 for year 2002 and $7,551,960 for year 2003

        Education - $4,933,266 for year 2002 and $4,675,185 for year 2003

        Public Safety - $4,058,597 for year 2002 and $3,843,692 for year 2003

        General Government - $1,990,559 for year 2002 and $2,078,496 for year 2003

        Debt Service - $1,061,150 for year 2002 and $1,191,112 for year 2003

        Environmental & Economic Development - $510,366 for year 2002 and $366,985 for year 2003

        Cultural and Recreation - $603,866 for year 2002 and $542,895 for year 2003

Chairman Robertson thanked Rick French, County Manager, and Jennifer Herman, Finance Officer, for their work during the budget process.  Chairman Robertson also thanked all County employees for their patience and understanding.

Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to approve the 2002-2003 Audit Report as presented.   Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion.   The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

SCHEDULING OF WORK SESSION

Chairman Robertson suggested that the Board consider holding a work session during the regularly scheduled Commissioners’ Meeting on October 20, 2003 to discuss an Animal Control Ordinance, an Economic Development Plan, and several other items.

The Board agreed to hold a work session on October 20, 2003 in the CVCC / Alexander Center Multipurpose Room at 6:00 PM.

BOARD APPOINTMENTS AND REAPPOINTMENTS

Chairman Robertson presented the list of members on the Courthouse Task Force for the Board’s review.  Chairman Robertson stated that the Board needed to start discussing renovations to the jail and he noted that several members of the Courthouse Task Force would possibly need to be replaced due to changes in positions, etc.

Chairman Robertson made a motion that the Board make revisions to the Courthouse Task Force at the October 20, 2003 work session.  Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion.  The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

BUDGET ORDINANCE AMENDMENT #10

Rick French, County Manager, discussed the purpose of Budget Amendment #10, which included the following information:

            Budget Amendment #10 – To provide for additional revenue from a $3,750 grant.

Commissioner Keever made a motion to approve Budget Amendment #10.  Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion.  The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

OTHER BUSINESS

Rick French, County Manager, discussed the following issues during Other Business:

A.      Staff is working on scheduling a meeting with Billy Ray Hall, Director of the Rural Center, in order to clarify our situation and discuss potential water projects.  Mr. French stated that a visit to the LGC could also be arranged on the same day.

B.       The next Celebration Dinner will be held on October 7, 2003 at 6:00 PM at Wittenburg Elementary School.

C.      Keith Hertzler, Chamber of Commerce Director, has invited the Board to attend a ribbon cutting at Peoples’ Bank on October 10, 2003 at 10:00 AM.

CONSENT AGENDA

A.      Tax Release Requests for September $491.03 and Tax Refund Requests for September $814.16.

B.      Resolution Regarding the Sealing and Unsealing of Closed Session Minutes.

C.      Minutes from September 8, 2003 Regular Commissioners’ Meeting and Minutes from September 22, 2003 Regular Commissioners’ Meeting.

D.      Records Retention and Disposition Schedules for County Management, Register of Deeds, and Sheriff’s Department.

Commissioner Keever made a motion to approve the Consent Agenda.  Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion.  The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

AARP RESOLUTION

Chairman Robertson presented the Resolution Declaring October 2003 as AARP Month in Alexander County.

Commissioner Harbinson made a motion to adopt the Resolution Declaring October 2003 as AARP Month in Alexander County.  Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion.  The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

CLOSED SESSION – N.C.G.S. 143-318.11(a)(6) PERSONNEL

Commissioner Bolick made a motion to enter into Closed Session at 7:01 PM to discuss personnel issues pursuant to N.C.G.S. 143-318.11(a)(6).  Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion.  The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business, Commissioner Hammer made a motion to adjourn at 8:30 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