August 16, 2004
The Alexander County Board of
Commissioners held a regular meeting on
CALL TO ORDER
Chairman Keever called the meeting to order at .
INVOCATION & PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Commissioner Robertson gave the
invocation and J.D. Latham, student at
Chairman Keever mentioned that Commissioner Robertsons father, Allie Robertson, had unfortunately passed away recently. He stated that he had great respect for Allie because he was an upstanding citizen, very trustworthy, and because he and Mrs. Robertson had raised 3 outstanding men, Darrell, Dale, and Robert. Chairman Keever conveyed his sympathy to Commissioner Robertson for his loss.
ADOPTION OF AGENDA
Chairman Keever requested that the Board take action on rescheduling several Commissioners Meetings during Other Business.
Commissioner Hammer made a motion to adopt the agenda as amended. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
SWEARING IN OF JOHN WATTS TO THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
Chairman Keever requested consideration of accepting John Watts appointment to the Board of Commissioners to replace Joel Harbinson whos resignation was effective August 2, 2004 at 12:00 Noon. Commissioner Robertson pointed out that the recommendation had been made by the Alexander County Democratic Party Executive Committee and was therefore in accordance with N.C. Statutes.
Commissioner Bolick made a motion to accept the appointment of John Watts to the Board of Commissioners to replace Joel Harbinson. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Seth Chapman, Clerk of Court, gave
the oath of office for the position of
Chairman Keever stated that if it hadnt been for Commissioner Watts father, C.G. Watts, who organized the Morehead Scholarship Program, he may have never had an interest in pursuing a college degree. Chairman Keever gave Mr. Watts the credit for giving him the incentive to want to go to school.
Commissioner Watts conveyed his
appreciation for the opportunity to serve on the Board again. He felt that one of the greatest callings was to
help your fellow citizen and he stated that he would do his best to serve
PUBLIC HEARING: REZONING CASE 04-6: WIKE & PAYNE
Sylvia Turnmire, Director of Planning
& Development, presented Rezoning Case 04-6 submitted by James and Reva Wike as well
as Ray and Mary Sue Payne. The parties
requested rezoning of property located on Millersville between
Ms. Turnmire stated that the applicants wished to rezone the property in order to place a manufactured home on the property and for additional farming use.
Ms. Turnmire explained that the RA-20 district was intended for low-density residential and agricultural purposes including single-family dwellings, two-family dwellings (individual), individual manufactured homes, and related uses necessary for a sound neighborhood.
Ms. Turnmire informed the Board that staff had received several phone calls from individuals requesting information in regards to the requests. She noted that no one had indicated a position in favor of or in opposition to the request. Ms. Turnmire also stated that a support petition had been provided by the applications, which many adjoining neighbors had signed.
Ms. Turnmire informed the Board that
the Planning & Zoning Commission held a public meeting on
Commissioner Hammer pointed out that he could not recall a time when a support petition has been submitted.
Chairman Keever called the public hearing to order and requested any public comment. There being no public comment, Commissioner Bolick made a motion to close the public hearing. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Watts made a motion to approve Rezoning Cases 04-6. Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
PUBLIC HEARING: COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT (CDBG) FUND
Nancy Coley, WPCOG Community Development Administrator, stated that the objective of the N.C. Community Development program was to expand jobs, build community assets, provide decent housing, improve living environments, and meet local needs in particular emergencies.
Ms. Coley reported that the State of
Community Revitalization Grants are designed to improve or develop residential areas for low and moderate income households in 2 subcategories including Concentrated Needs applications which are accepted on a 2-year cycle. If a local government elects to apply, it must choose a project area with severe needs of multiple elements such as water and sewer, sewer and housing, housing, streets and drainage. The Revitalization Strategies program is designed to provide grants to local governments to address multiple needs in high poverty neighborhoods.
Scattered Site Housing Rehabilitation Grants
in the amount of $400,000 are awarded to counties once every 3 years. This non-competitive grant category funds the
rehabilitation or replacement of severe housing units throughout the county.
Infrastructure Grant Applications are
accepted on a yearly basis. These funds can be
used to provide water and/or sewer to low and moderate income areas that exhibit a severe
need. The maximum grant request is $750,000. A new program is available to assist local
governments in providing funding for taps and connections for low-income persons within
their jurisdiction. Maximum grant amount is
$75,000. Applications are accepted on a
first-come, first-serve basis.
CDBG Funds can also be used for economic development. These applications are submitted to the Department of Commerce Finance Center and are funded through an open window process which means they can be submitted at any time. For each job created or retained, counties can receive $12,000 in CDBG funds to provide water and/or sewer to the industry. All CDBG projects involving public facilities require a local government match of 25% of the total project. Economic development funds can be used to install infrastructure or provide a direct loan to an industry that pledges to create jobs for low and moderate income persons. CDBG loans are made in conjunction with bank loans and can represent 50% of the total project financing.
Other CDBG grant
categories are Housing Development, Urgent Needs,
Ms. Coley stated that projects were evaluated and rated based on criteria including low and moderate income benefit, severity and treatment of the area, project appropriateness and feasibility, and local commitment.
Ms. Coley informed the Board that, before a grant application could be submitted, 2 public hearings must be held. She noted that this public hearing fulfilled the first public hearing requirement.
Chairman Keever asked if there were
any deadlines for any of the grant categories. Ms.
Coley replied that the deadline to submit applications for the Community Revitalization
(Concentrated Needs) Grant was later this fall. She
also noted that the deadline to submit applications for the taps and connections grant was
Commissioner Watts asked if funding
for these grants came from federal or state monies. Ms.
Coley replied that these funds were HUD funds coming from
Commissioner Watts asked how many houses were rehabilitated with funding from the last Scattered Site Housing Rehabilitation Grant. Ms. Coley responded that 3 houses had been rehabilitated and 2 relocations had taken place. Ms. Coley explained that the relocations occurred because the homes were too far deteriorated to repair so they were demolished and replaced with new ones. Ms. Coley also stated that 3 homes were still under contract for rehabilitation.
Commissioner Bolick inquired about the taps and connections grant and asked if the funding could be used throughout the entire county or if a certain area had to be specified with the application. Ms. Coley explained that anyone in the county was eligible as long as a water line existed in front of their home and they met the low and moderate income standards.
Commissioner Robertson pointed out
Commissioner Bolick inquired about
the timeline for the taps and connections grant. Ms.
Coley stated that the grant process was opened the first week in July. She explained that every local government
interested in the $75,000 taps and connections grant was given an opportunity to call
Commissioner Hammer stated that staff
would receive word at the end of the month about the possible receipt of a
Chairman Keever called the public hearing to order and requested any public comment. There being no public comment, Commissioner Bolick made a motion to close the public hearing. Commissioner Watts seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Jack Hoke, Alexander County Schools Superintendent, echoed Chairman Keevers comments about Allie Robertson. Mr. Hoke stated that he worked with Dale Robertson on a daily basis and noted that the gathering at the Robertson home and at the funeral made it quite evident that the Robertsons were well respected by the community. He also stated that the entire Robertson family had a valuable work ethic, high morals, and a commitment to excellence and he conveyed his appreciation to the Robertsons.
Mr. Hoke began his presentation by discussing the ABC results for the school system. He was proud to announce that Alexander Central High School had became a School of Distinction for the first time this past year with an 82.3% performance composite. He pointed out that ACHS had a performance composite of 42.3% when the ABC program began. Mr. Hoke presented performance composites for each school, which included:
East Alexander Middle School 81.2%
West Alexander Middle School 91.6%
Mr. Hoke also gave a Power Point Slide Show Presentation, which included the following information:
· High Student Performance
· Healthy Students in Safe, Orderly, and Caring Schools
· Qualified Teachers, Administrators, and Staff
· Strong Family, Community, and Business Support
· Effective and Efficient Operations
High Student Performance
· 86% of students in grades 3 - 8 and 10 scored at or above grade level on EOG test
· 82% of students in grades 8 - 12 that took EOG test scored at or above grade level
· No Child Left Behind Legislation to determine Adequate Yearly Progress
o Alexander County Schools 90%
o 9 out of 10 schools achieved AYP
· Alexander County Schools ranked 14 out of 115 school systems in the state, which is the top 12%
Performance Composite for Unifour High Schools
St. Stephens 86.9% Hibriten 77.1%
West Wilkes 86.2% North Wilkes 76.9%
Fred T. Foard 84.8% Bandy High 76.1%
Alexander Central 82.3% Wilkes Central 75.4%
Mooresville High 81.7% West Iredell 74.8%
East Wilkes 80.6% South Iredell 74.4%
Health Students in Safe, Orderly, and Caring Schools
· Workforce Investment Act Grant
· Alternative Learning Program
· Age-appropriate EC Programs at all schools
· Occupational Course of Study offers many students with disabilities the opportunity to graduate with a diploma and have work experience on and off campus
· Drop-out rate decreased to 3.82% from 5%
· Drop-out Prevention Counselor added at ACHS
· Suspensions decreased by 4%
· Suspensions at ACHS decreased 28%
· 14 students were provided homebound services and all 14 transitioned back into the regular school setting
Qualified Teachers, Administrators, and Staff
· 4 Administrators enrolled in Doctoral Program
· 4 Administrators enrolled in Educational Specialist Degree Program
· 6 Administrators completed the Principal Fellows Program
· 29 Initially Licensed Teacher I
· 35 Initially Licensed Teacher II
· 25 Initially Licensed Teacher III
· 41 new teachers to the system
· Teacher turnover rate 8.96%
· Local supplement for teachers 6%
· Added full-time Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor
· 10 ESL Teachers and 2 Assistants
Strong Family, Community, and Business Support
· Scholarships for ACHS students
· Strong partnership with CVCC
o Huskins Classes
o Classes Taught at ACHS campus
o Homegrown Teaching Scholars
o MagNIT Program
Effective and Efficient Operation (Construction 1998 2004)
· Total Cost $4 million / COPS $3.85 million
· Central Office / 7,000 square feet / Cost $644,007
· Total square footage of all projects since 1998 = 286,671
· Total cost of all projects since 1998 = $27.3 million
· COPS loan for all projects since 1998 = $11.2 million
Auditorium / 24,000 square
feet / Cost $4.3 million / To be complete
· Received the State Board of Education Award for Excellence in Financial Management
Great relationship with
Alexander County Commissioners and
Areas of Improvement
Social Studies at
· Writing Grades 4, 7, and 10
o Be more responsive to school needs
o Implement NC WISE Project
· Transfer students within district
· Media Funding
· Emphasis on the Arts
Chairman Keever asked if the Homegrown Teachers Program would possibly be expanded in the future. Mr. Hoke replied that expanding the program would depend entirely on funding available.
Commissioner Robertson inquired about improvement in U.S. History and writing. Mr. Hoke stated that one effort being made for improvement was social studies training for teachers in an attempt to get the curriculum more aligned with test information.
Commissioner Robertson asked if the federal government had taken any action to modify the No Child Left Behind Program. Mr. Hoke replied that the federal government had not taken major action on the program but had been a little more considerate, especially with English as a Second Language (ESL), by not accepting the scores for of Spanish speaking students the first 2 years that the student is enrolled in the school system, which helps the child tremendously.
Commissioner Watts stated that during
his initial tenure as
Commissioner Watts asked if benchmarks were established locally or at the state level. Mr. Hoke replied that benchmarks were, in fact, established by the state and he noted that those benchmarks had increased significantly for the 2004-2005 school year.
Commissioner Watts pointed out that testing levels for grades 4, 7, and 10 had been discussed. He asked if those testing scores had been tracked over the last 3 years to determine improvement. Mr. Hoke explained that the test had changed last year which made it difficult to accurately track improvement. He also stated that grammar and spelling were now being considered as part of the test scores, which had not been done in the past.
Commissioner Watts felt that there were some discrepancies with the drop-out rate formula while he served on the Board of Education because the formula allowed one student to be counted as a drop-out more than once. He asked if that same formula was still being used. Mr. Hoke replied that the drop-out formula had not changed significantly. He gave an example of a student dropping out, coming back to school, and then dropping out again and he explained that the student would be counted as 2 drop-outs, even though it was the same student. He also stated that a student that dropped out of school but went to the community college to pursue a G.E.D. was counted as a drop-out as well, which he did not agree with.
Commissioner Watts asked how many
Teaching Fellows could be found within the
Commissioner Watts asked if the EOG tests were given in Spanish as well as English. Mr. Hoke responded that the EOG tests were only provided in English; however, he reiterated that the school system had obtained a waiver so that a Spanish speaking students EOG testing scores would not be counted for the first 2 years of school enrollment.
Commissioner Watts asked how current
school facilities compared to those in 1998. Mr.
Hoke replied that the most important effort made was to get students out of the mobile
units. He stated that there were only 2 mobile
units left in the county one at ACHS and one at
Commissioner Watts asked if any Public School Building Funds were still available. Mr. Hoke replied that $299,962 remained and he noted that those funds would be used to implement the NCY project which would allow every teacher to have a computer to track attendance and to access pertinent information about particular students. He also mentioned that the project would allow the school system to provide principals with PDAs so that they could obtain class schedules for every student, which would be beneficial for students found roaming the halls or outside of class.
Commissioner Watts inquired about the number of students enrolled in the Alexander County School System. Mr. Hoke replied that there were 5,673 students enrolled in the system. Commissioner Watts asked how that number compared to last year. Mr. Hoke stated that there were approximately 70 more students this year than last. He also provided the number of students enrolled at each school, which was as follows:
East Alexander Middle School 694
West Alexander Middle School 662
Ellendale Elementary School 348
Hiddenite Elementary School 554
Sugar Loaf Elementary School 278
Wittenburg Elementary School 424
Commissioner Watts was interested in the status of the field house project. Mr. Hoke stated that the Board of Education was still committed to building a field house; however, he explained that the field house had to be pulled from the auditorium project and became an alternate. Mr. Hoke informed the Board that the Board of Education was now discussing redesigning the plans a little or re-bidding the project and funding the project with capital outlay monies. He stated that a decision would be made during the beginning of September. Commissioner Watts asked what the bids for the field house portion came in at. Mr. Hoke stated that the bids appeared to be around $850,000 but he felt that several components could be redesigned in order to bring the project down to a cost of less than $700,000. Commissioner Watts asked if the Board of Education had enough in capital outlay to fund the field house project without using any more half-cent sales tax. Mr. Hoke replied that there was adequate funding in capital outlay.
Commissioner Bolick asked when the Board could expect a new list of projected facilities needs for the next 3 to 5 years. Mr. Hoke stated that construction of the auditorium and field house would complete all facilities recommended in the 10-year plan. He also stated that staff was currently working on a new Transportation Information Management System that would provide a map of each school district showing where each child lived, color-coded by grade. Mr. Hoke felt that the school system was in very good shape in regard to facilities through 2008-2009 but he stated that the Board of Education would be discussing facilities within the next year to determine the next step.
Commissioner Bolick asked if the Board of Education saw any need for a second high school in the future. Mr. Hoke felt that there would eventually be a need for a second high school but he pointed out that it would not be any time in the near future. He noted that a second high school was not something that the Board of Education had been discussing.
Chairman Keever asked how growth in schools compared to what was projected by the Blue Ribbon Study Committee. Mr. Hoke replied that the current growth was very close to what was projected by the committee.
Commissioner Hammer felt that the Board of Education and school system had done a tremendous job in the last 10 years as far as facilities, student improvement, growth, etc. He pointed out that this county had done a great job with facilities in the way it used its money. Commissioner Hammer was also pleased that ACHS was one of the top 5 of 21 high schools in the region. He thanked Mr. Hoke and the Alexander County School System staff for their hard work.
Chairman Keever conveyed his appreciation to Mr. Hoke for his report and for the job he and the entire school system continued to do.
WORK FIRST BLOCK GRANT PLAN
Karen Hoyle, Social Services
Director, stated that the goal of the Work First Program was to place citizens in
employment and help them maintain that employment. Ms.
Hoyle explained that 5 years ago the state had requested that each county submit a plan as
to how the Work First Program would be operated. Counties
were allowed to choose to be either a
Ms. Hoyle explained that Standard
Counties followed the state policy which allowed counties to work more aggressively with
Work First recipients. Electing Counties are
able to draft a lot of their own policies but only receive a lump sum to operate the
program. Ms. Hoyle stated that the areas
employment market and the higher-risk families currently receiving Work First benefits
could negatively impact any financial gain from being an
Ms. Hoyle stated that several improvements had been made to the Work First Program over the last year. She informed the Board that the Alexander County Work First Program had ranked 65th in the state in June 2003; however, the County ranked 9th in the state in June 2004. Ms. Hoyle stated that a lot of reorganization and function changes had taken place as to how staff worked with families. She pointed out that the NC Division of Social Services Director visited the county in May to recognized work that had been done in many programs but, most importantly, the Work First Program.
Ms. Hoyle stated that a Work First Planning Committee had to be established to work on the plan to be submitted. She distributed a list of participants that had worked on the plan for the 2003-2005 year as well as a list of proposed participants for 2005-2007.
Commissioner Robertson made a motion
to remain a
Mr. Earp conveyed his appreciation to
the Board for their vote of confidence. He
stated that he had enjoyed working for the County since October 1987. He felt that
Chairman Keever congratulated Mr. Earp on his continued success.
BUDGET ORDINANCE AMENDMENTS
Budget Amendment #1
To budget for a new Respite grant and an increase in WIA grant for DSS. To increase the budget for salary and related
payroll costs to move extension agents salary up to minimum level of new NC agents
Budget Amendment #2 To budget for the purchase of a new phone system for 911 Communications. To budget for the purchase of 2 mobile data terminals with a 75% grant from the Governors Crime Commission.
Budget Amendment #3 To budget for a transfer to the General Fund for the purchase of Cougar Cards for employees and purchase of new American flags and flags with the new County seal.
Budget Amendment #4 To budget for an increase in annual insurance premiums for property and liability and workers compensation.
Budget Amendment #5 To budget for an increase in annual insurance premiums for property and liability and workers compensation.
Budget Amendment #6
To budget for a 2.5% cost-of-living adjustment for 2004-2005 (increase effective
Budget Amendment #7
To budget for a 2.5% cost-of-living adjustment for 2004-2005 (increase effective
Commissioner Hammer made a motion to approve Budget Amendments #1 - #7. Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Watts inquired about the status of the Fund Balance. Mr. French stated that the numbers werent clear so far for this year; however, he noted that the audit process would begin in about a week and that staff would know more then. He stated that staff estimated the Fund Balance to be a little over 8%.
LEGISLATIVE GOALS 2005
1. Seek legislation to implement some type of realistic phase out of county participation in the cost of Medicaid, beginning with a cap at current cost.
2. Support legislation to improve the system through which property taxes on motor vehicles are collected.
Support legislation to exempt counties,
cities, school boards, and community colleges from payment of state and local sales taxes
on purchases within
4. Support legislation to reinstitute state funding of local school system utility costs.
5. Seek legislation to provide financial resources and local regulatory control to satisfy regional water quality/supply planning needs, along with the resources necessary to meet environmentally sound water and sewer from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund and the NC Rural Center.
6. Seek legislation to increase the civil service process fee from $15 to $25.
7. Seek legislation to allow all counties to enact any or all of several revenue options from among those that have already been authorized for any other county.
8. Seek legislation to increase flexibility in the use of fees generated for the Emergency Telephone System Fund (E911) in order to expand the ability of counties to use these funds for purchase or lease of any and all communication equipment associated with receiving, processing, and dispatching emergency calls of law enforcement, fire, medical, rescue, or other public safety services.
9. Support an amendment to the State Constitution to require the General Assembly to adopt a state budget and any budget amendments by June 15th of each year.
10. Seek legislation to eliminate unfunded mandates.
Commissioner Watts discussed the reinstatement of state funding of local school system utility costs. He pointed out that he was serving on the Board of Education when the state stopped funding school utility costs. He asked Mr. Hoke how much had been budgeted for utilities in the school system budget. Mr. Hoke stated that he was not aware of that figure right off hand.
Commissioner Robertson stated that the Countys current portion of Medicaid costs totaled $1.7 million from the County budget, which was approximately 9 cents of the tax rate. Commissioner Robertson felt that the goal pertaining to phasing out county costs to Medicaid should be submitted with great emphasis.
Chairman Keever suggested the Board approve the legislative goals as presented and allow any additional goals to be added at the next Commissioners Meeting.
Commissioner Watts made a motion to approve the legislative goals as presented and also to allow amendments and additions to be made at the next Commissioners Meeting. Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
BOARD APPOINTMENTS & REAPPOINTMENTS
Commissioner Hammer presented the following appointments:
A. JUVENILE CRIME PREVENTION COUNCIL
Appoint Kaye Greene (replacing Jim Mock)
Appoint Avery Harrington
Appoint Commissioner Hammer
Commissioner Bolick made a motion to approve the appointments as presented. Commissioner Watts seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
The following issues were discussed during Other Business:
County staff will receive word regarding the
B. Sales tax figures have been received for another month. Mr. French stated that $5.7 million had been budgeted for sales tax revenues and he noted that the total received stood at approximately $5.3 million. He informed the Board that over $550,000 in sales tax monies had been received over the last 2 months. He noted that the total received would exceed what was budgeted if this trend continued.
The agreement with the City of
The solid waste convenience sites and the landfill
will remain open on
Mr. French stated that he had authorized
McGill Associates to move ahead with 2 proposals. The
first proposal is to evaluate the Sugar Loaf water system, recommend a water tank site,
and make recommendation with cost estimates. The
second proposal is to design water lines to enhance the Sugar Loaf system, prepare bids
and construction administration. Mr. French
stated that this was part of the process to strengthen the water system as County staff
and commissioners move toward serious planning for
F. A list of shelters currently being used in the county has been provided by Terry Foxx, Emergency Management Director.
G. Commissioner Bolick felt that Commissioner Watts needed to officially be appointed to the boards and committees that Commissioner Harbinson had been serving on.
Commissioner Bolick made a motion to appoint Commissioner Watts to the various boards and committees that Commissioner Harbinson had been serving on. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Chairman Keever suggested several changes to the
Commissioners Meeting Schedule including changing the September 20th
meeting to be held on September 13th, holding the October 18th
meeting at the new leased building in
Chairman Keever made a motion to amend the Commissioners Meeting Schedule as suggested. Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Hammer made a motion to approve the Consent Agenda. Commissioner Robertson 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 ON CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION, CONTRACTUAL, & PERSONNEL
Chairman Keever made a motion to enter into Closed Session at 7:47 PM to prevent 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 Robertson made a motion to adjourn at . Commissioner Bolick seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
W. Norris Keever, Chairman Jamie M. Starnes, Clerk to the Board