WATAUGA COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2001
The Watauga County Board of Commissioners held a regular meeting on Monday, November 5, 2001 at 9:00 A.M. in the Board Room of the Watauga County Courthouse.
PRESENT: Jimmy Hodges, Chairman
James Coffey, Vice-Chairman
Jack Lawrence, Sr., Commissioner
Sue Sweeting, Commissioner
Pat Wilkie, Commissioner
Jeff Hedrick, County Attorney
Robert E. Nelson, Jr., County Manager
Anita Fogle, Clerk to the Board
Chairman Hodges called the meeting to order at 9:00 A.M. welcoming those in attendance and asked for continuing remembrance of the world situation.
A moment of silence was observed.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Chairman Hodges called for additions or corrections to the October 16, 2001 regular and closed session meeting minutes.
Commissioner Sweeting, seconded by Vice-Chairman Coffey, moved to approve the October 16, 2001 regular and closed session meeting minutes as presented.
APPROVAL OF NOVEMBER 5, 2001 AGENDA
Chairman Hodges called for additions or corrections to the November 5, 2001 agenda.
Vice-Chairman Coffey, seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to approve the November 5, 2001 agenda as presented.
WATAUGA EDUCATION AWARENESS MONTH PROPOSED PROCLAMATION
Mr. Al Wheeler, Watauga County Education Foundation Executive Director, presented the Board with a Proclamation declaring November 2001 as “Watauga Education Foundation Awareness Month.”
Commissioner Wilkie, seconded by Commissioner Sweeting, moved to adopt the Proclamation declaring November 2001 as “Watauga Education Foundation Awareness Month” as presented by Mr. Wheeler.
FISCAL YEAR 2000/2001 AUDIT PRESENTATION
Mr. Bryce Holder, Holder, Copeland & Associates, made a brief presentation of the County’s Fiscal Year 2000/2001 audit. He discussed the general fund balance noting the overall collection rate was good. In addition, Mr. Holder commended Finance Director, Doris Isaacs, and her staff.
FIREMAN’S ASSOCIATION FUNDING REQUEST
Mr. Terry Combs presented a request on behalf of the Fireman’s Association for an upgrade of the newly installed Tater Hill communications tower. Mr. Combs requested that a repeater be installed at a cost of $5,000 that would improve the signal in the western part of the County.
Mr. Combs stated that the new repeater should work in conjunction with the upgrade of the County’s communications system of which the County is currently accepting bids for the budgeted $40,000 upgrade. Mr. Combs agreed that a committee was needed to study long range communication needs for the County but that the repeater was needed now.
Commissioner Sweeting, seconded by Commissioner Wilkie, moved to approve the request for a repeater as presented to be purchased from the fund balance and to form a committee to study the long term communication needs of the County.
STUDY COMMITTEE ON ZONING REPORT
Mr. Joe Furman presented a report from the Study Committee on Zoning which stated the progress to date and also noted that the committee made a recommendation for the Board to provide additional time for the committee to finish it’s work before forwarding final recommendations to the Board.
After discussion, Commissioner Wilkie, seconded by Commissioner Sweeting, moved to allow the Study Committee on Zoning to proceed with their meetings and make specific recommendations for parking, outdoor lighting, noise (in off hours), buffers, setbacks, drainage/stormwater, dust, and building height standards for high impact land uses and to forward recommendations to the Planning Board in a timely manner.
VOTE: Aye-4 (Hodges, Lawrence, Sweeting, Wilkie)
DISCUSSION OF EXTENDING THE MORATORIUM ON CERTAIN HIGH IMPACT LAND USES
County Manager Nelson stated that per Commissioner request, time was allocated for discussion of extending the Moratorium on Certain High Impact Land Uses. Mr. Furman presented the Board with the following recommendations to amend the current Moratorium if extended:
1) All references to “diesel generating plant” should be replaced with “electricity generating plant” and redefined as “a stand-alone fossil fuel fired plant not ancillary to another land use which generates electricity to be distributed to consumers”.
2) The fourth paragraph of the moratorium beginning with “WHEREAS, as recently recognized in preliminary results . . .” should be eliminated since the chip mill study is now complete. It could not be replaced at all or could be replaced with “WHEREAS, as stated in a comprehensive study of chip mills (Economic And Ecological Impacts Associated With Wood Chip Production In North Carolina, The Southern Center For Sustainable Forests: Duke University and North Carolina State University) ‘The number of wood chip mills has increased from 2 to 18 in North Carolina during the period from 1980 to 2000. . . . Public opinion about chip mills is severely polarized among North Carolina stakeholders, and results from (1) differing world views with regard to the economic and ecological benefits of private forests, and (2) absence of mutually acceptable information and the lack of pertinent information. There are more conflicting concerns in the Piedmont and Mountain regions, with considerably less conflict found in the Coastal Plain.’
3) A new paragraph after the current tenth paragraph which begins with “WHEREAS” should be added: “WHEREAS, the said committee has requested additional time in which to seek consensus; and”
4) A new expiration date was needed.
County Attorney Hedrick stated that Mr. David Owen with the Institute of Government was impressed with the progress of the committee and therefore an extension would be appropriate. The County Attorney also stated that in the event the moratorium was extended it could be abolished before it’s expiration date if the committee’s work was completed.
Commissioner Sweeting, seconded by Commissioner Wilkie, moved to set a Public Hearing for the regularly scheduled Board meeting on Tuesday, November 20, 2001 to consider extending the Moratorium on Certain High Impact Land Uses, with the suggested amendments including the suggested language in recommendation number two (2), for one year.
A. Budget Amendments – Finance Director, Doris Isaacs, presented the following budget amendments for Board approval:
Account # Description Debit Credit
103300-343101 NC DOT Bike Helmet Grant 2,000
104310-449902 Misc. Exp-Helmet Grant 2,000
To recognize award of a grant from the NC DOT for assistance in enforcing the new state bicycle helmet law.
Account # Description Debit Credit
103300-352102 NC Crime Control-RAP 17,335
105210-469823 Reaching Adol. Program 17,335
To recognize the carryover funds for the Reaching Adolescent Program. Grant period ran from 07-01-99 through 08-31-2001. This amendment recognizes the balance carried over from last fiscal year to complete the last two months of this program.
Account # Description Debit Credit
103586-384000 POA - Donations 450
105550-469810 Volunteer Recognition 200
105550-429200 Program Supplies 250
To recognize earmarked donations.
Account # Description Debit Credit
103835-384000 Donations – Animal Control 397
104380-449901 Donations – Spay/Neuter 397
To recognize a donation from the First Presbyterian Church youth group to assist in animal adoptions for individuals who cannot afford the spay/neuter program.
Account # Description Debit Credit
103300-345001 DOT – Work 1st Grant 3,539
103300-345002 DOT – Rural General Public 27,018
104500-469844 Work 1st Employment Trans. 3,539
104500-469843 Rural General Public 27,018
To recognize the award of Department of Transportation grants.
Account # Description Debit Credit
103991-399103 Fund Balance Approp – Carryover Prior Year 16,749
103300-349510 Golden Leaf Grant - Retainage 10,000
104951-412600 Salaries – Part Time 6,475
104951-418100 Social Security/Medicare 1,430
104951-418600 Worker’s Compensation 300
104951-429000 Other Supplies 3,020
104951-431100 Travel – Mileage 2,076
104951-431200 Travel - Subsistence 700
104951-439500 Employee Training 217
104951-449100 Dues & Subscriptions 2,015
104951-451000 Data Processing – Other 4,732
104951-452000 Data Processing Equip. 4,009
104951-469500 Contracted Services 1,775
To recognize unspent Golden Leaf Grant funds @ 06-30-2001.
Vice-Chairman Coffey seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to approve the budget amendments as presented.
B. County’s Refunding Bond – Escrow Deposit Proposed Agreement – Ms. Isaacs presented the proposed County’s Refunding Bond Resolution.
In addition, Ms. Isaacs presented the Escrow Deposit Agreement for consideration. Ms. Isaacs stated that the Local Government Commission had reviewed the agreement.
Action was postponed until the next agenda item was addressed.
C. Ferris, Baker, Watts, Inc. Request to Bid on Bonds – Ms. Isaacs stated that the County’s refunding consultant, Ferris, Baker, Watts, Inc. requested to bid on the Bonds that the County prepared to issue in the refunding process. The Local Government Commission and the County’s Bond Counsel advised the County that this was not a conflict of interest.
County Attorney Hedrick stated that all the documents have been reviewed by the Local Government Commission through a lengthy conference call.
Vice-Chairman Coffey, seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, made a motion to adopt the Refunding Bond Resolution and to approve the Escrow Deposit Agreement as presented and to allow Ferris, Baker, Watts, Inc. to bid on the Bonds as presented by Ms. Isaacs.
A. Monthly Collections Report – Tax Administrator, Kelvin Byrd, presented the Tax Collections Report for the month of October 2001.
B. Releases and Refunds – Tax Administrator Byrd presented the following Refunds and Releases for October 2001 for Board approval:
TO BE TYPED IN MINUTE BOOK
Commissioner Sweeting, seconded by Vice-Chairman Coffey, moved to approve the Refunds and Releases Report as presented.
SENIOR CENTER FUNDING REQUEST
Ms. Angie Boitnotte, Project on Aging Director, addressed the Board regarding an additional appropriation of State funds for the County’s two senior centers. She stated the total of $11,364 required a local match of $1,263, which was present in the Project on Aging’s current budget. Ms. Boitnotte noted the funds would be used to furnish a computer lab at the L. E. Harrill Senior Center and to purchase program supplies and equipment. The funds were used for renovations, equipment, program supplies, and contracted classes at the Western Watauga Community Center including the installation of fluorescent lighting in dim hallways.
Vice-Chairman Coffey seconded by Commissioner Wilkie, moved to approve the additional appropriation of State funds as presented by Ms. Boitnotte.
PARKS AND RECREATION MATTERS
A. Grant Request – Ms. Deb Wynne, Director of Watauga County Parks and Recreation, reviewed the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PART F) grant process. Ms. Wynne stated that Watauga County was eligible to apply for a maximum of $250,000 to develop parks or make improvements to existing facilities. Ms. Wynne requested $5,000 to fund consultants (surveyors, landscape architects, etc.) whose required tasks must be completed prior to submission of the grant.
Ms. Wynne stated that several projects have been mentioned but that none were confirmed. Ms. Wynne plans to return to the Board with detailed projects, at which time she will request to apply for the grant. Ms. Wynne stated that one project being considered was lighting for the fields at Hardin Park School.
Commissioner Wilkie seconded by Commissioner Sweeting, moved to approve the request for $5,000 to fund consultants out of the Contingency Fund as presented.
B. Proposed Fee Increase – Ms. Wynne reviewed proposed fee increases for Parks and Recreation Programs to be effective January 1, 2002. Ms. Wynne stated that these fees have been reviewed and endorsed by the Watauga County Parks and Recreation Commission. The increases were as follows:
A. Increase all adult team athletic leagues + $25
B. Increase all youth program fees + $5
Late Registration fee for all programs
Increase late fee + $5 (to $10)
Increase weekly fee $5 (to $55 – Summer Parks & $70 – Summer Arts)
A. Picnic Shelter + $2.50 per hour (to $7.50/hr)
B. Cove Creek Gym & Optimist Clubhouse + $5 per hour (to $15/hr - $40/half day* - $60/all day*) (Do Away with Profit/Non-Profit)
C. Ballfield/without lights Recreation Play ($10 per hr/$30 half day/$50 day)
D. Ballfield/without lights Tournament Play ($15 per hr/$45 half day*/$75 day)
E. Recreation Equipment Rental ($10 per week night/$20 weekend)
*half day is 4 hours & day is 8 hours
Daily Fees Current Fees Proposed Fees
Adult Lap $2.50 $3.50
Senior Adult Lap $2.00 $2.50
Youth $2.00 $2.50
Adult $2.50 $3.00
Senior $2.00 $2.50
Family Swim $10.00 $12.00
Swim Lessons $30.00 $35.00
Senior Exercise $2.00 $2.50
Community Swim $18.00/$23.00 $20.00/$25.00
(without lessons/with lessons)
Vice-Chairman Coffey, seconded by Commissioner Sweeting, made a motion to approve the Parks and Recreation fee increases as presented by Ms. Wynne.
MISCELLANEOUS ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS
A. Ginn House Upset Bid Update – County Manager Nelson stated that the Clerk to the Board received two upset bids on the Ginn House that were appropriate and acceptable. The high upset bid was in the amount of $415,000 from The Vetro Law Firm. Pursuant to the upset bid process, a new advertisement was placed in the Watauga Democrat on Wednesday, October 31, 2001 beginning the new ten day upset period. The County Manager stated that since Monday, November 12th is a holiday, the new upset bid time runs through 1:00 P.M. Tuesday, November 13th.
B. Boards and Commissions – County Manager Nelson stated that the following recommendations were offered for the following Boards and Commissions:
Valle Crucis Historic Preservation Commission
Boyd Whitley for a three year term
Maria Hyde for a three year term
Watauga County Library Board of Trustees
Roberta Jackson for a four year term
Watauga County Adult Care Home Community Advisory Committee
Angie Greene for a three year term
Watauga County Board of Adjustment
Janet Beck for a three year term
Jane Nicholson for a three year term
Vice-Chairman Coffey, seconded by Commissioner Wilkie, made a motion to appoint those recommended to serve on the above listed Boards and Commissions as presented by the County Manager.
County Manager Nelson also stated that Mr. Mike Fox resigned his position, which was to expire in December 2002, on the Recreation Commission. The County Manager announced that Mr. Tom Trexler, Bethel Elementary School Principal, recommended Ms. Becca Saunders to fill Mr. Fox’s un-expired term.
No Board action is required as this was the first reading of this nomination.
C. Appointment of Lead Agency for the Rural Internet Access Authority – County Manager Nelson stated that the North Carolina Rural Internet Access Authority announced that $10,000 was available to Watauga County, one of eighty-four rural North Carolina counties eligible for the Rural Internet planning effort. The Authority required that a lead agency or “champion” be appointed to lead this development process. The County Manager stated that Watauga County has WataugaNet, directed by the Appalachian Regional Development Institute (ARDI) of Appalachian State University. The Manager and Ms. Glenda Duncan, IT Director, recommended that ARDI/WataugaNet be designated as the lead agency or “champion” for this program. It was also recommended that Watauga County be identified as the fiscal agent for the grant.
Commissioner Lawrence, seconded by Commissioner Sweeting, made a motion to appoint Appalachian Regional Development Institute (ARDI)/WataugaNet to serve as the local connectivity champion for Watauga County in the E-Communities Program through the Rural Internet Access Authority.
D. Charter Cable Fee Increase Discussion of Public Hearing – County Manager Nelson stated that Charter Communications announced a rate increase of $3.95 per month, plus taxes and fees, effective December 1, 2001. The County Manger stated that per the County’s Cable Franchise Ordinance, the Board of Commissioners may require a representative for Charter attend a Public Hearing to allow citizen input and concern to be recorded. However, the Board had no regulatory oversight regarding rate approval for the proposed increase.
Commissioner Wilkie, seconded by Commissioner Sweeting, made a motion to set a Public Hearing to be held on November 20, 2001 at 7:00 P.M. to allow citizen comment on the Charter Communications rate increase.
E. Landfill Monitoring Report – County Manager Nelson reviewed the most recently conducted groundwater and surface water assessment for the closed Landfill as conducted by Draper Aden, Associates. The County Manager stated that the concentration and the size of the plume continued to diminish. The County Manager stated that by Board direction, he requested that twelve additional offsite private wells (which included the Greer, Bolick, and Williamson wells) be tested during this monitoring event. County Manager Nelson stated that none of the twelve private wells that were tested showed any sign of contaminates.
The Board agreed, by consensus, to forward the Monitoring Assessment Report to the North Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
F. Requested Work Session for CIP Update – County Manger Nelson stated that the County received the structural engineer’s report on the Heilig Meyers Warehouse property concerning the feasibility and cost of possible renovation. The County Manager requested a work session be scheduled to update the County’s Capital Improvement Plan. The County Manager suggested that at the requested session, staff would review the report on the Heilig Meyers property as well as update the long range plans for space needs and building projects that may need to be scheduled in the immediate future.
The Board agreed, by consensus, to hold a work session immediately following the regularly scheduled Board meeting on Monday, December 3, 2001.
G. Proposed Records Retention Schedule – County Manger Nelson stated that the Department of Cultural Resources, Division of Archives and History, Archives and Record Section, forwarded to Watauga County a Records and Retention Disposition Schedule. The document is a policy that governments are required to adhere in disposing and retaining records.
Commissioner Sweeting, seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, made a motion to adopt the Records and Retention Disposition Schedule as presented by the County Manager.
H. Announcements – County Manager Nelson announced that the Chamber of Commerce had invited the Board to a reception honoring Sam Erby at Appalachian Ski Mountain at 6:00 P.M. on Monday, November 12, 2001. The County Manager stated that those who planned to attend could RSVP or contact Anita Fogle, Clerk to the Board.
County Manager Nelson announced that traditionally the Board has cancelled the second regularly scheduled meeting in December due to the holiday season.
The Board agreed, by consensus, to cancel the regularly scheduled Tuesday, December 18, 2001 Board meeting unless developments required a meeting.
At 10:04 A.M., Commissioner Sweeting, seconded by Commissioner Wilkie, moved to enter Closed Session to discuss Personnel Matters, G.S. 143-318311 (a)(6).
Commissioner Sweeting, seconded by Vice-Chairman Coffey, moved to resume the open meeting at 10:22 A.M.
County Manager Nelson presented the Board with the following personnel reclassifications in closed session:
Salary Grade Minimum Mid-Point Maximum
Taxmapper I (vacant position only) 7 $21,917 $27,396 $32,876
GIS Technician II 11 $26,136 $32,671 $39,205
(Comparable to Land Records Specialist)
Finance Accounting Tech IV 12 $27,313 $34,141 $40,969
Accounts Payable Supervisor
Finance Accounting Tech V 14 $29,826 $37,283 $44,739
Accounts Payable Supervisor
Commissioner Wilkie, seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to accept the recommended position reclassifications as presented by County Manager Nelson.
Commissioner Lawrence, seconded by Commissioner Sweeting, moved to adjourn the meeting at 10:23 A.M.
Jimmy Hodges, Chairman
Anita J. Fogle, Clerk to the Board