May 3, 2004
The Alexander County Board of
Commissioners held a regular meeting on
CALL TO ORDER
CALL TO ORDER
Chairman Keever called the meeting to order at .
INVOCATION & PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Pastor Dale Leonhardt,
Chairman Keever recognized Jamie Starnes, Clerk to the Board, for her recent designation as a Certified Municipal Clerk. Chairman Keever presented a plaque from the International Institute of Municipal Clerks to Ms. Starnes in honor of this designation.
A slide show presentation was also presented in recognition of Ms. Starnes birthday that included photos of her childhood.
ADOPTION OF AGENDA
Commissioner Bolick requested the
Board discuss the possibility of placing an ad in The
Taylorsville Times in recognition of the National Day of Prayer set for
Commissioner Hammer made a motion to adopt the agenda as amended. Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
PUBLIC HEARING: PROPOSED INSTALLMENT FINANCING AGREEMENT
Jennifer Herman, Finance Director, informed the Board that staff was in the process of submitting a debt application to the Local Government Commission for financing for an auditorium and field house at Alexander Central High School as well as to refinance the remaining debt owed for the Alexander Central High School reconstruction and an addition at the Department of Social Services Building. Ms. Herman stated that Request for Proposals had been mailed to 10 banks of which 6 had been returned. She stated that the low bid for the installment financing was received from Bank of America, which included 2 financing options. Staff recommended the option that would allow financing over 15 years with semiannual payments and an interest rate of 3.399%. Ms. Herman also pointed out that the bid option also allowed prepayment of the debt at anytime during the course of the loan but she noted that there was percentage fees that would be charged based on when the prepayment took place. Ms. Herman felt that this option was best for the County when considering the prepay options and the principal and interest to be paid out over the life of the loan. Ms. Herman mentioned that a financing contract could be drafted with Bank of America after the resolution to accept the proposal was approved tonight.
Commissioner Harbinson stated that
the remaining debt from the ACHS reconstruction that was proposed to be refinanced was
approximately $1 million. He also noted that
80% of the payments for the proposed loan would be attributed to the auditorium and field
house. Commissioner Harbinson gave an example
of the year 2005 in which 80% of the $585,772.71 payment would be for the auditorium and
field house. Ms. Herman clarified that the
auditorium and field house would only equal 67% of the $585,772.71 payment; however, she
noted that the auditorium, field house, and ACHS refinancing would equal 80% of the total
proposed debt agreement. Ms. Herman also
stated that the ACHS refinancing portion of the loan would be paid in full in December
2010, which would leave the rest of the debt accounting for the auditorium and field house
to be paid in full by
Mr. French explained that the
remaining debt for the
Commissioner Harbinson stated that it was his understanding from the beginning that the auditorium and field house project would be paid from funds received from sales tax specifically earmarked for school construction; however, he noted that at some point, an agreement was made that the County would provide reimbursements to the Board of Education. Commissioner Harbinson inquired as to why the reimbursements from the County were not consistent throughout the entire life of the loan. Mr. French replied that staff had considered the revaluation cycle in determining the reimbursements. Mr. French explained that County would pay nothing during the first year and the Board of Education would pay the entire debt service amount from sales tax. He also stated that the payments would equal one-third County and two-thirds Board of Education for the second year and then two-thirds County and one-third Board of Education for the third year. Mr. French stated that the County would pay 100% during the fourth year and he noted that the payments would be 50/50 each year after that until 2017.
Commissioner Harbinson asked where the $2 million that the County would reimburse the Board of Education for these projects would come from. Mr. French replied that the $2 million would be taken from General Fund revenues, which includes property taxes and sales taxes. Commissioner Harbinson pointed out property taxes would eventually have to be raised to pay for this project and he noted that the County Commission Board serving in 2007 would be stuck with raising those taxes if they werent raised now. Commissioner Harbinson suggested the Board begin raising taxes now instead forcing another Board to raise them.
Chairman Keever stated that the theory behind the reimbursements was that the County would have the revenue to pay for the auditorium and field house projects without raising taxes due to growth in the current tax base as it was expanded with revaluation. Commissioner Harbinson, however, pointed out that the Board would not be able to lower the tax rate during the next revaluation, which would be the same as a tax increase because more property taxes would be paid due to higher valuations.
Commissioner Robertson recalled when the County was able to receive a half-cent sales tax on what the State kept from county reimbursements. Commissioner Robertson stated that, based on the States figures for sales tax, it would be next year before the Countys revenue figures caught back up to where they should have been. Commissioner Robertson felt that sales taxes could also be a factor to offset some of the property tax increase.
Commissioner Harbinson stated that the projected sales tax revenues to the school system in 2005 totaled $1,386,600; however, he noted that $1,441,106.85 would be paid out for Ellendale Elementary, Multi-School, and auditorium / field house / ACHS refinancing projects. Commissioner Harbinson also stated that more funding would be spent on projects in 2006 than what was projected in sales tax revenues.
Commissioner Harbinson discussed the running balance of sales tax available for projects and he asked if this was the funding that was usually used to repair building and roofs for schools. Mr. French replied that this was, in fact, that particular fund. Commissioner Harbinson clarified that the total provided would only be accurate if nothing was ever spent out of that fund for repairs. Mr. French replied that Commissioner Harbinson was correct and he noted that some of the funds would obviously have to be used.
Commissioner Harbinson pointed out that tonight was the second meeting that the Superintendent and the Board of Education Chairman had not been present to answer questions. Commissioner Harbinson felt that they were the appropriate people to be answering the many questions that remained.
Commissioner Harbinson asked if the DSS addition had been mandated by the State. Chairman Keever replied that the State had informed the County that more office space was needed to be provided for employees and he noted that the County was not in compliance with State regulations in regard to the manner that employees were being housed. Commissioner Hammer noted that the County was constantly being written up for filing cabinets being placed in hallways and several employees sharing one office.
Commissioner Hammer discussed several
projects that had taken place over the last 4 or 5 years.
He discussed the new CVCC /
Commissioner Harbinson inquired about the hidden costs that would be associated with the auditorium such as the hiring of a director and utility costs. He asked what type of promotional activity would take place to encourage organizations and events to use the facility.
Commissioner Harbinson again pointed out that this was the second meeting that the Superintendent and Board of Education Chairman had missed and he felt that they needed to be at the meeting to answer these types of questions. Commissioner Harbinson stated that he, as a member of the Board, had a duty to the taxpayers when tax money was being used for major projects a duty to check where every single penny would go. Commissioner Harbinson stated that moving forward with the project concerned him because there had not been enough time spent discussing the financing and there had not been enough input gathered from the citizens in regard to the project.
Commissioner Robertson asked what the
savings would be due to refinancing the remaining debt for ACHS. Ms. Herman replied that a savings of $54,000 would
be the result of refinancing. Commissioner
Robertson asked if staff had considered refinancing for the remaining debt at
Commissioner Harbinson discussed the
design of the proposed auditorium and asked if any of the Board members had toured similar
facilities. Chairman Keever replied that a
tour had been taken of the
Chairman Keever stated that another reason this project was being considered at this time was due to the low financing rates. Chairman Keever stated that the rates would begin going up as soon as tomorrow and he noted that the 3.399% would be locked in if action was taken tonight.
Chairman Keever called the public hearing to order and requested any public comment.
Principal of Ellendale Elementary School, stated that she had always been a supporter of
the arts and she noted the
Angela Brown stated
that she had lived in
Chairman Keever stated that the Board was elected for a specified term and was charged with the responsibility of making decisions. He noted that the citizens had the right to disagree with those decisions and perhaps vote against them in the next election. Chairman Keever felt that the auditorium and field house was the best choice at the present time and he also informed the Board and audience that the State had anticipated another school bond referendum in 2006 that the County would get a portion of. Chairman Keever also pointed out that the Board of Education had assured the Board of Commissioners that all classroom needs had been met for the next 3 to 5 years.
Ms. Brown mentioned
Commissioner Harbinson stated that funding this project would tie up funds for the school system for the next 15 years. Chairman Keever replied that the project would not tie up funding for 15 years, especially if a school bond referendum took place. Commissioner Harbinson asked Chairman Keever if he was going to rely on what the State was going to do for classrooms.
Caryn Brzykcy stated that she was the mother of a first grader and a soon to be kindergartener. Ms. Brzykcy agreed that an auditorium would be wonderful to have performances and concerts; however, she felt that having permanent seating would limit the use of the facility except for band and chorus concerts. She stated that the auditorium could never be used for dinner theaters or musicals because there was no orchestra pit. Ms. Brzykcy felt that funding the auditorium and field house projects would tie the hands of the County for long-range needs. Ms. Brzykcy commended the Board for meeting the long-range needs listed on the school facilities plan on file with the State; however, she noted that there were still needs that needed to be addressed. She pointed out that Hiddenite Elementary was so overcrowded that children were eating lunch at and she noted that there were school gyms that still did not have air conditioning. Ms. Brzykcy stated that teachers at ACHS were pushing their instructional materials around on carts because they didnt have a permanent classroom. Ms. Brzykcy was concerned that if the funding for the auditorium and field house projects was approved, that there would not be a single classroom built the entire time her children would be attending schools. Ms. Brzykcy felt that the long-range school facilities plan on file with the State need to be continued and completed and she noted that an auditorium and field house was not included on that plan. Ms. Brzykcy also noted that another public hearing would have been nice to allow the community an opportunity to speak on this issue.
Chairman Keever informed Ms. Brzykcy that a public hearing had been held before this one. Commissioner Harbinson disagreed and stated that a public meeting had been held but not a public hearing that would have allowed citizens to speak. Chairman Keever disagreed.
Commissioner Hammer asked Ms. Brzykcy who had developed the school facilities plan she had spoke of. Ms. Brzykcy replied that it was her understanding that the Board of Education in conjunction with the Board of Commissioners had developed the plan and she noted that this plan did not include construction of an auditorium. Ms. Brzykcy reiterated again that an auditorium would be great but she felt that if one was to be constructed it would need to be more functional to the citizens with moveable seating and an orchestra pit. Ms. Brzykcy stated that no one had asked any of the principals what the needs were at their schools until she did and she felt that the Board should put the classroom needs first and not tie the hands of the County, putting children back in mobile units. Ms. Brzykcy asked the Board to reconsider or at least table the vote until other citizens and principals could voice their opinion on this issue.
Commissioner Hammer mentioned that the JROTC was currently housed in a mobile unit and he explained that the field house would include classroom and storage space for JROTC so that they could be moved out of the mobile unit. Commissioner Hammer stated that the current JROTC mobile unit was the only mobile unit in the county. Commissioner Hammer stated that the Superintendent and the Board of Education had assured the Board of Commissioners that all classroom needs had been met and he noted that the Board was simply going by their recommendation.
Commissioner Bolick stated that he had lived and paid taxes in this county for over 40 years and he noted that he had never seen a year go by that the school system didnt request additional funding, which he felt was good because it meant that there was growth in the county and school system. Commissioner Bolick stated that there would never be a day that everything was completely up-to-date; however, he noted that there was no place in the county that citizens could go to enjoy the arts, theater, and concerts. He stated that people had to travel to adjoining counties to visit these types of facilities and he felt that it was time that the Board pledged its support for something that the taxpayers could enjoy. Commissioner Bolick stated that if the funding wasnt approved tonight, the project would be but off for another 10 years. He also thanked each citizen for speaking, stating that he agreed with a lot of what they were saying; however, he noted that it was time that a decision be made to move forward.
There being no further public comment, Commissioner Hammer made a motion to close the public hearing. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
RESOLUTION TO APPROVE REFINANCING OF THE EXISTING
Jennifer Herman, Finance Officer, presented a Resolution Making Certain Findings and Determinations Regarding the Financing of Governmental Facilities and the Financing and Refinancing of Certain School Facilities Pursuant to an Installment Financing Agreement and Requesting the Local Government Commission to Approve the Financing Arrangement.
Ms. Herman stated that this
supplemental resolution was drafted to include the refinancing of the debt at ACHS. The original resolution approved on
Commissioner Robertson made a motion
to approve the resolution approving the refinancing of the existing debt for
RESOLUTION TO APPROVE BANK FOR INSTALLMENT FINANCING AGREEMENT
Jennifer Herman, Finance Officer, presented a Resolution Accepting the Proposal of Bank of America, N.A. in Connection with an Installment Financing for Governmental Facilities and the Financing and Refinancing of Certain School Facilities. Ms. Herman explained that the resolution was to simply approve the use of Bank of America for the installment financing package for the auditorium, field house, DSS addition, and refinancing of ACHS debt.
Ms. Herman informed the Board that once the resolution was approved, staff would notify Bank of America, their attorneys, and the County special counsel to move forward with drafting a financing agreement.
Commissioner Robertson pointed out that the amount of the loan was specified as $6.3 million. He clarified that, if the bids for the projects came in lower than $6.3 million, only the amount needed would be drawn from Bank of America. Ms. Herman stated that the amount specified was to simply say that the project funding would not exceed $6.3 million.
Commissioner Harbinson agreed with Commissioners Hammer and Bolick when they stated that there would always be needs in the County and he noted that the County was fortunate to not have as many needs as so many other counties within the state. However, he stated that these needs would change everyday and he felt that there would be more needs, particularly classroom needs, within the next 10 to 15 year.
Commissioner Harbinson stated that he had problems with the financing of an auditorium and field house for several reasons including that it would cost too much for the County citizens to pay. He stated that nearly $5 million would be financed to pay for an auditorium and field house that the citizens of the county would be paying for over 15 years. Commissioner Harbinson agreed that much of that amount would be paid with sales tax revenues earmarked for school construction and classrooms but he pointed out that the County had agreed to refund the Board of Education $2 million from the General Fund, which included property taxes.
Commissioner Harbinson stated that the auditorium would include additional costs that had not been explained such as annual upkeep expenses, a possible director, and projected cost of utilities. Commissioner Harbinson stated that a new locker room had been constructed 2 years ago when additions and renovations were made at ACHS and he asked if yet another locker room costing $700,000 would be needed within the new field house if constructed. Commissioner Harbinson also stated that a new, spacious band room and a chorus room were also constructed at ACHS 2 years ago.
Commissioner Harbinson stated that
this was too big of an expense for taxpayers to fund, especially since it was a want and
not a need. Commissioner Harbinson felt it was
the Boards duty to use the least amount of taxpayers money to fill the
greatest need in the County and he felt that luxuries such as an auditorium and field
house should not be funded when there were still needs to be met. He also stated that funding these projects would
result in students being placed back in mobile units in the next few years. Commissioner Harbinson informed the Board that he
had sent a letter to Rick French recently to be forwarded to Jack Hoke, Superintendent,
asking for the number of additional classrooms currently needed at each school by a survey
of principals, a list of other current school related needs such as cafeterias and gyms,
and what classroom needs were projected over the next 15 years. Commissioner Harbinson felt that the reason the
Superintendent was not present at the meeting was because he never asked any of the
principals these questions. Commissioner
Harbinson stated that
Commissioner Harbinson stated that he
kept hearing that the Board of Education had assured the Board of Commissioners that the
school system was in great shape; however he read a portion of the minutes from the
October 25, 2001 Commissioners Meeting, which read:
Mr. Hoke noted that 10 additional classrooms were needed at each
middle school and a gym was needed at Stony Point Elementary School. Mr. Hoke also noted that Hiddenite and
Commissioner Harbinson stated that
sales tax revenues were required by law to be used to construct classrooms and schools,
not auditoriums and field houses. Commissioner
Harbinson stated that
Commissioner Harbinson stated that a
second high school in the County could be forgotten about if the funding for the
auditorium and field house was approved tonight. He
also stated that there would be no elementary school in the southeastern part of the
county to solve the overcrowding at
Commissioner Harbinson explained that
approving this project would cause property taxes to increase or result in a cut in the
General Fund for school projects. Commissioner
Harbinson stated that a new Board elected in 2006 would be stuck with raising taxes to
fund this project and he therefore requested that the current Board move ahead with
raising taxes so that a future Board would not have to carry such a burden. Commissioner Harbinson also stated that, if
approved, funding of these projects would cause
Commissioner Harbinson also discussed several design flaws that he noticed, which he felt was due to the fact that the citizens input was never considered. Commissioner Harbinson stated that a graduation could never be held in the proposed auditorium because there would only be 1,000 seats for 1,500 students families. He also stated that musicals couldnt be held in the auditorium since there would be no orchestra pit, nor could dinner theaters or banquets, or even the prom be held because the auditorium would have permanent seating. However, Commissioner Harbinson noted that a good band or chorus concert could be held a few times a year. Commissioner Harbinson felt that the citizens needed to design the auditorium to their needs and wants.
Commissioner Harbinson stated that if this action was approved tonight, there would be members of the Board of Education requesting a local bond referendum 3 to 5 years from now to build classrooms and schools.
At this time, Chairman Keever called time on Commissioner Harbinson and thanked him for his comments.
Chairman Keever replied to Commissioner Harbinsons comments by stating that dinner theaters would be able to be held at the new auditorium and he explained that the meal would be served in a separate area and then guests would move into the auditorium for the presentation. Chairman Keever also pointed out that several of the front seats of the auditorium could be removed to serve as an orchestra pit. Chairman Keever stated that money had been wasted in the county before; however, he noted that he saw the auditorium as an economic development tool that would support itself.
Commissioner Hammer stated that these projects would cost approximately $6 million and he pointed out that a new high school that had been mentioned would cost approximately $25-$30 million to build. Therefore, Commissioner Hammer did not feel that borrowing $6 million was going to bankrupt the County, nor would it affect the construction of a new high school or elementary school in the future.
Commissioner Robertson conveyed his appreciation to Commissioner Harbinson for his concerns with these projects but he stated that education was more that just reading, writing, and arithmetic. Commissioner Robertson stated that music and the arts were also an important part of education. He stated that he was aware that an auditorium had not been included in the original school facilities plan on file with the State; however, he noted that this project had been talked about and procrastinated over for 30 years. Commissioner Robertson felt that it was time this project was acted upon and begun because it was the right thing to do. Commissioner Robertson also felt confidence that there would be a State school bond referendum in the near future that would contribute to the project.
Commissioner Hammer made a motion to approve Bank of America for the Installment Financing Agreement for the auditorium, field house, DSS, addition, and ACHS refinancing. Commissioner Bolick 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 carried.
PROCLAMATION FOR SENIOR CENTER WEEK
Chairman Keever presented a
Commissioner Robertson made a motion to approve the proclamation. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
PROCLAMATION FOR NATIONAL CANCER SURVIVORS DAY
Chairman Keever presented a
Commissioner Robertson pointed out that there were 585 active, productive cancer survivors in the County with a population of approximately 34,000. Commissioner Robertson stated that there seemed to be a large percentage of the Countys population that had been affected by cancer and he was thankful that the Board had chosen to recognize those individuals.
Chairman Keever agreed that
Commissioner Harbinson pointed out that there had been far more people pass away from cancer than had survived it and he noted that being faced with something so serious gave people a real appreciation of life.
Commissioner Hammer made a motion to approve the proclamation. Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
LEASE FOR THE
Mr. French stated that possible uses
for the building were a satellite Library or
Commissioner Hammer stated that a
County satellite office for the
Commissioner Bolick felt that a
public hearing need to be held in the future to allow the citizens of
Commissioner Bolick made a motion to
approve the proposed agreement to lease the
APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE FOR YMCA PARTNERSHIP
Chairman Keever recommended the following individuals to serve on the YMCA Partnership Committee:
Donna Fincannon, Chairman of Parks & Recreation Board
Angela Blakely, YMCA Representative
Marcheta Campbell, YMCA Director of Operations
Jack Hoke, Schools Superintendent
Chairman Keever stated that all other members of the Parks & Recreation Board and Recreation staff would serve as ex-officio members along with Interim Senior Center Director Cindy Isaac and Finance Director Jennifer Herman. He noted that Jamie Starnes, Clerk to the Board, would send notices and keep minutes for the committee.
Commissioner Hammer suggested that the Senior Center Advisory Board members be included as ex-officio members. Chairman Keever accepted that suggestion.
Chairman Keever clarified that the
study committees responsibility was to gather information on the feasibility of
combining the YMCA, Recreation, and
Chairman Keever made a motion to approve the study committee as discussed. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
RESCHEDULING OF THE SECOND COMMISSIONERS MEETING IN MAY
Chairman Keever suggested that the May 17, 2004 Commissioners Meeting be rescheduled for May 24, 2004 to allow adequate time to get the proposed budget ready for presentation at that time. Chairman Keever stated that a work session would be held during the meeting to allow for discussion of the budget.
Chairman Keever made a motion to
BOARD APPOINTMENTS & REAPPOINTMENTS
Commissioner Hammer recommended that L.E. Herman be appointed to the Planning & Zoning Commission for a 2-year term.
Commissioner Hammer made a motion to approve the appointment of L.E. Herman to the Planning & Zoning Commission. Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
BUDGET ORDINANCE AMENDMENTS #35 - #38
Budget Amendment #35 To budget for an increase in Social Services State grant funds.
Budget Amendment #36 To decrease the budget for a transfer from the General Fund to the Solid Waste Fund.
Budget Amendment #37 To amend the grant project budget for final costs.
Budget Amendment #38 To amend transfers to the General Fund.
Commissioner Hammer made a motion to approve Budget Amendments #35 - #38. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
The following issues were discussed during Other Business:
A. May has been designated as Mental Health Month. Mr. French stated that a tour of the Alexander Opportunities facility was held today from to .
Commissioner Bolick requested the Board support an
ad in The Taylorsville Times in recognition of
the National Day of Prayer and to honor all service personnel from
Commissioner Bolick made a motion to approve the ad as requested. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Robertson made a motion to approve the Consent Agenda. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
CLOSED SESSION N.C.G.S. 143-318.11(a)(1, 5, & 6) TO PREVENT DISCLOSURE OF CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION, CONTRACTUAL & PERSONNEL
Commissioner Hammer made a motion to enter into Closed Session at 7:40 PM to prevent the disclosure of confidential information as well as to discuss contractual matters and personnel issues pursuant to N.C.G.S. 143-318.11(a)(1, 5, & 6). Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
There being no further business, Commissioner Bolick made a motion to adjourn at . Commissioner Harbinson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
W. Norris Keever, Chairman Jamie M. Starnes, Clerk to the Board