WATAUGA COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
MONDAY, JANUARY 7, 2002
The Watauga County Board of Commissioners held a regular meeting on Monday, January 7, 2002 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 J. Fogle, Clerk to the Board
Chairman Hodges called the meeting to order at 9:03 A.M. welcoming those in attendance.
A moment of silence was observed.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Chairman Hodges called for additions or corrections to the December 3, 2001 regular meeting and closed session minutes.
Vice-Chairman Coffey, seconded by Commissioner Sweeting, moved to approve the December 3, 2001 regular meeting and closed session minutes as presented.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Commissioner Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to approve the January 7, 2002 agenda as presented.
WATAUGA MEDICS FUNDING REQUEST
Mr. Craig Sullivan, Director of Watauga Medics, Inc., stated that approximately six months ago funding was approved for an additional EMS crew (12 hour a day, 7 days a week) for Watauga Medics Inc. The additional crew was subsidized with County funds in the amount of $58,716 and was to be reviewed after six months to determine if the need warranted continuance of the additional crew and to examine the increased revenues of Watauga Medics relevant to increased charges approved by the Board.
Mr. Sullivan reviewed the number of calls and the effect of the additional crew on improved services to citizens of the County. Mr. Sullivan requested to extend the contract and continue the service as it is subsidized by the County in the amount of $58,716 for the next six month period beginning January 2002.
Mr. Sullivan also stated that when and if the Medicare “Fee Schedule” was implemented, the County would begin to see the subsidy amount decrease depending on how Medicare structured their payments. The earliest possible date for implementation of the “Schedule” was April 1, 2002.
Commissioner Sweeting moved to approve the request to continue to fund the additional 12 hour a day, 7 day a week Watauga Medics EMS crew for an additional six months beginning January 2002 with a County subsidy of $58,716 as presented and also requested Mr. Sullivan update the Board in April 2002 regarding the status of the Medicare “Fee Schedule.”
There was no second.
Nay-4(Hodges, Coffey, Lawrence, Wilkie)
Commissioner Wilkie, seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to approve the request to continue to fund the additional 12 hour a day, 7 day a week Watauga Medics EMS crew for an additional three month period beginning January 2002 for half the subsidized amount requested and also requested Mr. Sullivan update the Board in April 2002 regarding the status of the Medicare “Fee Schedule.”
SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT NEW POSITION REQUEST
Sheriff Lyons requested an additional Bailiff position be added for the Sheriff’s Department. The request was based on increased needs for Bailiff time due to scheduled Court Sessions that required such presence. Sheriff Lyons stated that funds were available in his salary line to cover the addition due to retirements of higher paid officers.
After discussion, and by consensus, the Board requested that Sheriff Lyons report back at the February 4, 2002, Board meeting with information regarding the ratio of his staff to the size of the County compared to other similar County’s. Concerns were expressed regarding the funds available in future budgets.
County Attorney Hedrick confirmed that the Court Schedule had and will most likely continue to increase with an additional Superior Court Judge possibly being added to our district within the next year. The County Attorney also stated that Lieutenant Steve Edmisten would be sorely missed in the Courtrooms upon his retirement in February 2002.
Commissioner Sweeting asked if a Retired Officer could serve as a part-time Bailiff and the Sheriff stated yes as long as he/she were still certified.
Commissioner Wilkie requested a list of all Sheriff’s Department personnel along with a description of each of their duties.
A. Collections Report – Tax Administrator, Kelvin Byrd, presented the Tax Collections Report for the month of December, 2001.
B. Refunds & Releases – Tax Administrator Byrd presented the following Refunds and Releases for December, 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.
DISCUSSION OF RETIREE INSURANCE BENEFITS
County Manager Nelson stated that per Commissioner request time was reserved to discuss retiree insurance benefits for employees who retired prior to the adoption of the Ordinance extending said benefits. The County Manager stated that five employees had retired since July 1, 2001, with one who opted to retain medical and dental insurance coverage through retired status and one who opted to retain medical insurance through COBRA status.
MISCELLANEOUS ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS
A. Sheriff’s Department Retirement Award Request – County Manager Nelson stated that G.S. 20-187.2 allows governing bodies of a law enforcement agency to award a retiring member his/her service side arm at a price determined by the governing body. In Watauga County, law enforcement personnel may retire at age 55 with 25 years of credible service with full retirement benefits. The County Manager stated that Mr. Steve Edmisten planned to retire February 1, 2002, with full benefits and 25 years of service with 17 years of service to Watauga County and that the Sheriff’s Department requested that his side arm and badge be awarded to him upon his retirement and that the Board set the price of the side arm at $1.
Vice-Chairman Coffey, seconded by Commissioner Wilkie, made a motion to award Mr. Steve Edmisten his side arm and badge upon his retirement at a cost of $1 for the side arm.
B. “I Have A Dream Week” Proclamation Request – County Manager Nelson stated that a request had been received from Ms. Mary Gray, Chairperson of the I-Have-A-Dream Task Force, to proclaim January 18-27, 2002, as I-Have-A-Dream Week in Watauga County. Ms. Betty Wells-Donahue, member of the Task Force, was present and thanked the Board for their support and invited the Board to the upcoming events associated with I-Have-A-Dream Week.
Commissioner Wilkie seconded by Commissioner Sweeting, moved to proclaim January 18-27, 2002 as I-Have-A-Dream Week in Watauga County.
C. Employee Assistance Program Contract Proposal – The County Manager requested that the contract for the Employee Assistance Program offered by New River Behavioral Health Care be renewed. The contract was the same as last year’s which included six visits at a cost of $25 per session for each covered employee during the fiscal year. Five employees benefited from this program in 2001.
Vice-Chairman Coffey, seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to approve this contract as presented.
D. Landfill Engineering Proposal – County Manager Nelson stated that a proposal had been made from Draper Aden Associates to perform engineering services for the transfer station project at the Landfill area. The Manager recommended Alternative One which was a proposal for earth work only. The proposed cost of this engineering service was $17,400. The County Manager stated that Draper Aden had done extensive work at the landfill for the past nine to ten years, and was familiar with all aspects of the County’s operation, and therefore recommended the acceptance of the proposal. The County Manager stated that the County may exempt itself from the statute mandated selection process when the total cost is under $30,000 or at its sole discretion by stating the reasons for a project being exempted from the selection process (G.S. 143-64.32).
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Vice-Chairman Coffey, moved to accept this proposal as presented using funds from the Sanitation Department’s Capital Reserve Fund for the contract.
E. Discussion of Board of County Commissioners’ 2nd January Meeting Date – County Manager Nelson stated that the Board’s second January meeting date was regularly scheduled for January 15, 2002. The Manager recommended that the meeting be rescheduled to January 22, 2002.
Vice-Chairman Coffey, seconded by Commissioner Wilkie, moved to reschedule the second January Board meeting to January 22, 2002.
F. Boards and Commissions – County Manager Nelson stated that Mr. Fred Badders was recommended for a one-year appointment to the Watauga County Nursing Home Community Advisory Committee to fill a current vacancy.
Commissioner Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Wilkie, moved to appoint Mr. Fred Badders to a one-year term to the Watauga County Nursing Homes Community Advisory Committee.
The County Manager stated that the following nominations were made for the Watauga County Recreation Commission: Mr. Bill Hollingsworth to replace Ms. Donna Nicastro; Mr. Michael Maybee to be reappointed; Mr. Keith Tester to fill the position vacated by Mr. Charles Travis; and Mr. David Wray to fill the un-expired term of Mr. Terry Lentz
This was the first reading for the above appointments and therefore no action was required.
The County Manager stated that the Western North Carolina Caucus was being established to ensure parity in State and Federal funding for western North Carolina. The plan was to form a fifty-two (52) member group that consists of one county commissioner and one elected official representing the municipalities from each county. Herb Greene, Chairman of the Board of Caldwell County, requested that the Board appoint a member to represent Watauga County. Per Commissioner request the County Manager stated that he checked to determine if the appointment had to be one of the Commissioners or if they could appoint a representative. The Manager was informed that the position was requested to be filled by an elected official. However, if neither of the Commissioners could serve on the committee an additional Town Official could be appointed to fill the County’s seat.
The Board, by consensus, agreed to make a decision regarding the Western NC Caucus appointment at the next scheduled meeting.
G. Discussion of the Board of County Commissioners’ Annual Retreat – County Manager Nelson presented the Board with a draft agenda, proposed dates and times, and a proposed location for consideration for the Annual Pre-Budget Retreat. The County Manager discussed topics as well as dates and arrangements for the Retreat and requested that Commissioners contact him with any additional requests or information for the agenda.
The 2002 Annual Pre-Budget Retreat will be on March 1-2, 2002, at the Human Services Building Conference Room from 6:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. on Friday and from 8:30 A.M. to 12:00 Noon on Saturday.
H. Announcements – County Manager Nelson stated that the NCACC was sponsoring a Mental Health Reform Training for County Officials on January 17, 2002 at the Sheraton Research Triangle Park. The County Manager asked that any Commissioner who wished to attend please notify Anita Fogle, Clerk to the Board.
At 9:58 A.M., Commissioner Sweeting, seconded by Commissioner Wilkie, moved to enter Closed Session to discuss Land Acquisition, per G.S. 143-318.11(a)(5)(i); Attorney/Client Matters, per G.S. 143-318-11(a)(3); and Personnel Matters, per G.S. 143-318-11(a)(6).
Commissioner Sweeting, seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to resume the open meeting at 11:03 A.M.
NORTH CAROLINA PARKS AND RECREATION TRUST FUND (PARTF) GRANT APPLICATION
The Board, by consensus, gave Ms. Deb Wynne, Parks and Recreation Director, approval to apply for the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) Grant in the amount of $250,000 to acquire additional land in Watauga County for additional athletic playing fields and for public outdoor recreation.
Commissioner Sweeting, seconded by Commissioner Wilkie, moved to offer to pay $408,000 for a 7.41 acre parcel of land, to be used for outdoor public recreation, on Brookshire Road, currently owned by Ms. Lorene Miller, with the following conditions and contingencies: 1] That a conditional use permit can be and is obtained from the Town of Boone, 2] That the Watauga County Parks and Recreation applied for and received a grant from the PARTF, and 3] That the County have until June 2002 to meet the first two conditions and contingencies before closing on the sale.
Mr. Dwayne Miller, representing the owner, stated that he was in agreement with the conditions and contingencies regarding the sale of the property stated in the motion.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Vice-Chairman Coffey, moved to adjourn the meeting at 11:10 A.M.
Anita J. Fogle
Clerk to the Board