WATAUGA COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
TUESDAY, MARCH 4, 2014
The Watauga County Board of Commissioners held a regular meeting on Tuesday, March 4, 2014, at 8:30 A.M. in the Commissioners' Board Room of the Watauga County Administration Building, Boone, North Carolina.
PRESENT: Nathan Miller, Chairman
David Blust, Vice-Chairman
Billy Kennedy, Commissioner
John Welch, Commissioner
Perry Yates, Commissioner
Stacey “Four” Eggers, IV, County Attorney
Deron Geouque, County Manager
Anita J. Fogle, Clerk to the Board
Chairman Miller called the meeting to order at 8:31 A.M.
Vice-Chairman Blust opened the meeting with a prayer and Commissioner Yates led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Approval of Minutes
Chairman Miller called for additions and/or corrections to the February 18, 2014, regular meeting minutes.
Commissioner Yates, seconded by Commissioner Kennedy, moved to approve the January 21, 2014, regular meeting minutes as presented.
Approval of Agenda
Chairman Miller called for additions and/or corrections to the March 4, 2014, agenda.
County Manager Geouque requested to add Attorney/Client Matters to the scheduled closed session and possible action after the closed session.
Commissioner Kennedy, seconded by Vice-Chairman Blust, moved to approve the March 4, 2014, agenda as amended.
Proposals from Destination By Design
Ms. Teresa Buckwalter and Mr. Alex Gotherman, with Destination By Design, gave presentations on the following two projects:
A. Our Mother’s Garden
Mr. Gotherman presented a conceptual plan for Our Mother’s Garden. The project was proposed by Appalachian State University’s Institute for Health and Human Services. The Garden was proposed to be located on County-owned property adjacent to the Human Services Center Building which was prepared as a building pad for a future facility. Ms. Mary Sheryl Horine and Ms. Carol Cook with the Institute for Health and Human Services were present. Ms. Horine reviewed the project and discussed the location.
With a future building planned for the location proposed by the Institute for Health and Human Services; County Manager Geouque recommended consideration of placing the Garden on the area adjacent to King Street at the far end of the Human Services Center Complex. The County Manager stated that staff believed that location had the best opportunity for the sustainability of the park. The proposed location was not able to be built on and would potentially serve as parking once a new building was constructed at the site. However, the Town may not require the additional parking to be built which in turn would allow the park to remain whereas relocation would be the only option for the park if the site originally proposed, between the Health Department and Human Services building, was selected.
Project on Aging Director, Angie Boitnotte, stated that she believed seniors would be willing to walk across the parking lot to access the park. Ms. Horine stated that she would prepare a survey for the Senior Center participants regarding their preference regarding park location. Ms. Boitnotte stated that she would distribute the surveys.
No action was taken.
B. West Downtown Alive!
Ms. Teresa Buckwalter presented a conceptual plan for improvements to the western area of Downtown Boone from the Human Services Complex to Water Street. The project was proposed by High Country Pathways and will also be presented to the Boone Town Council. Ms. Buckwalter stated that the plan included improvements to several County-owned properties and was inclusive of Our Mother’s Garden as well.
The presentation was given for information only; therefore no action was required at this time. Ms. Buckwalter did encourage Board members to feel free to forward comments regarding the project.
Community Care Clinic, Inc., Annual Report
Ms. Melissa Selby, Community Care Clinic Director, shared a report detailing the Clinic’s activities in 2013.
The report was for information only with no action required.
Intergovernmental retreat request
Mr. Phil Trew, Director of Planning at High Country Council of Governments, stated that there was dissatisfaction with the Intergovernmental Retreats in that they were informative in nature resulting with no action. In September 2013, Mr. Trew began meeting with each of the entities that participated in the Retreats and suggested two officials from each be appointed to meet with a facilitator to determine what the best course of action would be when organizing the Intergovernmental Retreats. Mr. Trew stated that, at that time, Chairman Miller and Commissioner Kennedy were appointed to represent Watauga County.
Mr. Trew has confirmed a rate of $2,000 with Ms. Lydian Altman, from the UNC School of Government, to facilitate the meeting. Mr. Trew requested the Board approve $400 for the County’s portion of the facilitator cost with each of the Towns paying a share of the remaining amount. ASU was not included in the billing as they would not have delegates and provided the venue at no cost.
Commissioner Yates, second by Commissioner Welch, moved to approve the expenditure of $400 for Watauga County’s portion of the facilitator cost for the Intergovernmental Retreat Committee meeting.
Cooperative extension staffing request
Mr. Jim Hamilton, Cooperative Extension Director, requested authorization to use funds budgeted for the frozen horticulture agent to increase the temporary horticulture agent from twenty (20) to forty (40) hours. Currently, the County is paying nine (9) of the twenty (20) hours with the State paying the remaining eleven (11) hours.
County Manager Geouque stated that, per the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Cooperative Extension, the percentage of funding for personnel was forty-five percent (45%) County funding and fifty-five percent (55%) State funding.
Mr. Hamilton’s proposal was to increase the temporary employee’s hours from twenty (20) to forty (40) hours. The County would pay twenty-nine (29) of the hours with the State continuing to pay eleven (11) hours. That would have the County paying seventy-two and half percent (72.5%) and the State paying twenty-seven and a half percent (27.5%) which was not in accordance with the MOU.
The County Manager stated that funding was available in the Cooperative Extension budget to cover Mr. Hamilton’s request; however, the potential existed for this arrangement to set a precedent in reduced funding from the State as the County was willing to fund more than the forty-five percent (45%) stated in the MOU. Additionally, staff had concerns related to benefits. Mr. Hamilton stated that the provision of benefits would not be required. The County Manager reported that, in the past, staff had received a contrary opinion with regards to retirement benefits through the Local Government Employees Retirement System. The directive received was that any employee scheduled more than 1,000 hours was required to be placed in the retirement system regardless of the classification of the employee.
After lengthy discussion, Commissioner Yates, seconded by Commissioner Welch, moved to table consideration of the request to allow the County Manager and Mr. Hamilton an opportunity to further research benefit requirements.
Economic Development Matters
A. Proposed Appalachian Enterprise Center Lease
Mr. Joe Furman, Planning and Inspections Director, presented a proposed lease with the High Country Workforce Development Board (HCWDB) for a portion of the Appalachian Enterprise Center (AEC). The proposed lease was discussed at the Annual Budget Retreat.
Mr. Furman stated that some renovation work was needed to the facility in order to accommodate the occupying agencies. The Maintenance Director would oversee the renovation process which would be bid out. Mr. Furman anticipated the cost of the work would be recovered from proceeds of the first year of the lease. The lease amount was proposed at $45,000 which would include utilities and maintenance and was consistent with the lease amount for incubator tenants. The County Attorney prepared the proposed lease.
Commissioner Kennedy, seconded by Commissioner Yates, moved to approve the lease with High Country Workforce Development Board as presented for $45,000 per year with a term of thirty (30) months followed with annual automatic renewals, with the effective date to be July 1, 2014, or sooner, if facility renovations were completed prior to that date.
Vice-Chairman Blust, seconded by Commissioner Yates, moved to approve the renovation work needed to the Appalachian Enterprise Center and to authorize funds, not to exceed $20,000, to cover the costs of the work.
After further discussion, Mr. Furman was to proceed forward and come back to the Board with bids if they exceeded the County’s local policy of $15,000.
B. Update on Workforce Development Matters
Mr. Adrian Tait, High Country Workforce Development, updated the Board on Workforce Development matters.
The report was for information only.
A. Monthly Collections Report
Tax Administrator Larry Warren presented the Tax Collections Report for the month of February 2014. This report was presented for information only and, therefore, no action was required.
B. Refunds and Releases
Mr. Warren presented the Refunds and Releases Report for February 2014, as well as a report from the new motor vehicle billing system, North Carolina Vehicle Tax System (NCVTS), for Board approval:
TO BE TYPED IN MINUTE BOOK
Commissioner Kennedy, seconded by Vice-Chairman Blust, moved to approve the Refunds and Releases Report for February 2014, as presented.
Commissioner Yates, seconded by Commissioner Welch, moved to approve the North Carolina Vehicle Tax System Refunds and Releases Report for February 2014 as presented.
A. Smoky Mountain Quarterly Report
Ms. Margaret Pierce, Finance Director, presented the Smoky Mountain Center Quarterly Financial Report as required by Statute.
The report was given for information only.
B. Real Property Sale Request
Ms. Pierce presented a proposed resolution authorizing the sale of real property located at 347 Oak Street, Boone NC 28607 as discussed at the Annual Budget Retreat. The County had previously adopted a resolution establishing the electronic auction method; however, the proposed resolution was required to be adopted for the specific property to be sold via the electronic process.
Commissioner Yates, seconded by Commissioner Welch, moved to adopt the resolution authorizing the sale of real property located at 347 Oak Street, Boone, North Carolina, as presented.
Miscellaneous Administrative Matters
A. Proposed Lease for Probation and Parole
County Manager Geouque presented revisions requested by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety in the probation and parole space lease.
The County Attorney reviewed the changes as follows: the amount of square footage was added back in; the lease would begin in April 2014 and end in March 2017; and Section # 7 referenced the General Statute.
After discussion, the Chairman tabled consideration of the proposed lease to allow for the County Attorney to inform the NC Department of Public Safety that the County did not wish to include the amount of square footage in the lease.
B. Re-Appointment of the Board Members for the Watauga Community Housing Trust
The County Manager presented the members of the Watauga Community Housing Trust for consideration and re-appointment. In addition, a request was made to move the Habitat for Humanity organization from “elected” to “appointed.”
Commissioner Kennedy, seconded by Vice-Chairman Blust, moved to move Habitat for Humanity’s representative from an “elected” status to an “appointed” status.
Vice-Chairman Blust, seconded by Commissioner Welch, moved to approve the following reappointments to the Watauga Community Housing Trust:
Town of Boone 2016
Northwest Regional Housing Authority 2015
Appalachian Regional Healthcare System 2016
Board of Education 2015
High Country Home Builders Association 2016
W.A.M.Y. Community Action, Inc. 2015
Habitat for Humanity 2016
C. Budget Amendment
County Manager Geouque presented a budget amendment appropriating $1,170,236 from the unassigned fund balance that was accrued at the end of Fiscal Year 2012-2013 to fund future County and School capital needs. Per discussion from the Annual Budget Retreat, the County Manager proposed the one-time appropriation in the amount of $1,170,236 from the unassigned fund balance with $870,236 to be allocated to the Recreation/Pool Renovations Capital Project Fund and the remaining $300,000 to be allocated to the Watauga County School Capital Project Fund.
Commissioner Kennedy, seconded by Commissioner Welch, moved to approve the budget amendment as presented by the County Manager.
D. Approval of Inmate Medical Service Agreement with JLW Enterprises, Inc.
County Manager Geouque presented proposed amendments to the contract with JLW Enterprises, Inc. for inmate care which were in addition to the renewal approved on December 17, 2013, including a four percent (4%) CPI increase. The Sheriff’s Office recommended the renewal of the contract. Adequate funds are in the jail budget to cover the increase.
The County Attorney stated that he had reviewed the proposed contract and found no issues of concern.
Commissioner Kennedy, seconded by Commissioner Yates, moved to renew the contract with JLW Enterprises, Inc. for inmate care for one (1) additional year in the amount of $7,881.12 per month.
E. Proposed Paving Agreement with the NC Department of Transportation for the Boone Rural Fire District
County Manager Geouque stated that the Boone Rural Fire District recently completed construction of a new fire station and the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) had discretionary funds to assist in providing driveway connections. The County Manager presented a proposed Reimbursable Agreement with the NCDOT which was required in order for the Boone Rural Fire District to be eligible to receive the funds. The maximum amount eligible for reimbursement was $25,000 with any additional amount over that to be funded by the Boone Rural Fire District. The County Manager stated that similar agreements had been approved for Meat Camp and Foscoe Volunteer Fire Departments.
Commissioner Yates, seconded by Commissioner Kennedy, moved to approve the North Carolina Department of Transportation Reimbursable Agreement as presented contingent upon the Boone Fire District funding any costs over the amount received from the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
F. Boards & Commissions
Watauga County Tourism Development Authority
County Manager Geouque stated that the terms of Matthew Vincent and Connie Baird expired in February 2014 on the Watauga County Tourism Development Authority. Also, Sonya Garland has resigned her seat due to time constraints. Therefore, three seats were available; one to fill an unexpired term for two years and two for three-year terms.
Both, Mr. Vincent and Ms. Baird have submitted volunteer applications and were willing to continue to serve if so reappointed. Volunteer applications were also received by Greg Tarbutton, William Leonard, and Steve Tatum; each of whom has expressed interest in serving.
The above were second readings with the exception of Mr. Tatum, which was a first reading.
The County Manager stated that the Board of Commissioners also needed to appoint the Chairman of the TDA Board.
Commissioner Welch, seconded by Commissioner Kennedy, moved to reappoint Matthew Vincent to the Watauga County Tourism Development Authority for a three-year term.
Commissioner Welch, seconded by Commissioner Kennedy, moved to appoint Matthew Vincent as the Chairman of the Watauga County Tourism Development Authority.
Commissioner Welch, seconded by Commissioner Kennedy, moved to appoint William Leonard to the Watauga County Tourism Development Authority for a three-year term.
VOTE: Aye-2(Kennedy, Welch)
Nay-3(Miller, Blust, Yates)
Chairman Miller moved to reappoint Connie Baird to the Watauga County Tourism Development Authority for a three-year term.
Chairman Miller’s motion died for lack of a second.
Vice-Chairman Blust, seconded by Commissioner Yates, moved to appoint Greg Tarbutton to the Watauga County Tourism Development Authority for a three-year term.
VOTE: Aye-3(Miller, Blust, Yates)
Commissioner Yates, seconded by Vice-Chairman Blust, moved to table consideration of an appointment to fill the two-year, unexpired term to the Watauga County Tourism Development Authority.
Watauga County Adult Care Home Community Advisory Committee
Ms. Julie Wiggins, Regional Ombudsman with High Country Council of Governments’ Area Agency on Aging, requests that Ms. Pat Taylor and Ms. Angelina Greene each be reappointed to the Watauga County Adult Care Home Community Advisory Committee for three-year terms.
Vice-Chairman Blust, seconded by Commissioner Welch, moved to reappoint Pat Taylor and Angelina Greene to three-year terms on the Watauga County Adult Care Home Community Advisory Committee.
County Manager Geouque announced the following:
· Save the date: Cooperative Extension invites you to attend the Small Farms Week kickoff event on Monday, March 24, 2014, at the Boone United Methodist Church. Watauga County is hosting the event as Bill Moretz, local apple grower and former Farmer's Market president, was the recipient of this prestigious award in 2013. The event, which will welcome more than 200 small farmers and Extension agents from across the state, begins at 9:30 A.M. NC A&T State University faculty member, Dr. Manny Reyes, will be the keynote speaker. Breakout sessions on technical topics will follow and lunch will be served around noon.
· The dedication of the Highway 421 Bridge in honor of fallen Deputy William R. Mast, Jr. will be March 25, 2014 at 10:00 AM. Per the family’s request, there will be a small ceremony including opening remarks, an invocation, a presentation of colors, the bridge dedication, an unveiling of the sign, and closing remarks. The ceremony will be held at Brookshire Park.
· The Board will need to schedule two budget work sessions for the County’s annual budget process. Current dates for Board consideration are May 8th, 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM, May13th, 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM, May 15th, 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM, and May 16th 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM.
After discussion and by consensus, the Board scheduled the following two Budget Work Sessions: Thursday, May 8, 2014, at 4:00 P.M. and Tuesday, May 13, 2014, at 4:00 P.M. Both Work Sessions will be held in the Commissioners’ Conference Room in the Watauga County Administration Building.
· The North Carolina Association of County Commissioners will be holding district meetings across the State in March and April with the meeting for our district being on April 3, 2014 in Catawba County. If you wish to attend, please see Anita who will be happy to RSVP for you. Please click on the following link to view a short introduction to the District Meetings: District Meetings Introduction Link.
· Save the date: The Watauga County Economic Development Commission and Appalachian State University will hold an Economic Summit on Tuesday, April 8, 2014, at the Holmes Convocation Center from 8:00 A.M. to 1:30 P.M.
· Tax Administrator, Larry Warren, will soon bring prospective dates for scheduling Board of Equalization and Review meetings.
There was no public comment.
At 10:37 A.M., Commissioner Kennedy, seconded by Vice-Chairman Blust, moved to enter Closed Session to discuss Personnel Matters, per G. S. 143-318.11(a)(6) and Attorney/Client Matters, per G. S. 143-318.11(a)(3).
Vice-Chairman Blust, seconded by Commissioner Welch, moved to resume the open meeting at 10:57 A.M.
Possible Action After Closed Session
Commissioner Yates, seconded by Commissioner Kennedy, moved to appoint Mr. Tom Hughes as the new Director of the Watauga County Department of Social Services effective April 1, 2014, and to set Mr. Hughes annual salary at $75,000.
Commissioner Kennedy, seconded by Vice-Chairman Blust, moved to adjourn the meeting at 10:58 A.M.
Nathan A. Miller, Chairman
Anita J. Fogle, Clerk to the Board