The Henderson County
Board of Commissioners met for a special called meeting at in the Commissioners' Conference Room
of the HendersonCountyOfficeBuilding.
Those present were:Chairman Bill Moyer, Vice-Chairman Charlie
Messer, Commissioner Larry Young, Commissioner Shannon Baldwin, Commissioner Chuck
McGrady, County Manager David E. Nicholson, County Attorney Russell Burrell, and
Clerk to the Board Elizabeth Corn.
Also present were: Budget
& Management Director Selena Coffey, Finance Director J. Carey McLelland,
and Deputy Clerk to the Board Amy Brantley.
CALL TO ORDER/WELCOME
Chairman Moyer called
the meeting to order and welcomed all in attendance. He stated that the purpose
of the meeting was to hold a Public Hearing with respect to the FY 2005-2006
FISCAL YEAR 2005-06 BUDGET PUBLIC HEARING
1.Fielding Lucas – Mr. Lucas stated that
this budget was the public referendum on the School Board’s Strategic Plan for
Class Size Reductions. Depending on what the Board does, the County may or may
not be committed to forever funding an operating cost differential for the
elementary part of the school system and later, by this precedent, for the
middle schools. He reminded the Board that of the two original bond referendum
schools, MillsRiver and Hillandale were in dire need
of or even beyond repair, yet the School Board found it more necessary to deal
with a self-imposed class size mandate. He suggested the following alternatives
for the Board’s consideration: 1) decline to fund the request to implement the
third year of the class size reduction program and direct that the Sugarloaf
School conform to State 600 elementary school model class and classroom sizes, 2)
pull the Sugarloaf School out of the Schools Debt Service budget and submit the
project to a bond referendum and do not fund the year three class size program
until the public decides, 3) fund both the debt service and class size
reduction plans as submitted by the School Board, or 4) give the School Board
taxing authority and get out of the schools management process. He recommended
option one, giving MillsRiver and Hillandale some
modernization and general resuscitation first.
2.Don Bryant – Mr. Bryant stated that
he was the Principal at UpwardElementary School. He
spoke to the need for office support help, citing examples where such support
would be able to really make a difference at a school. He stated that the major
item he wished to discuss was the additional need for school nurses, noting
that HendersonCounty was desperately behind on ratios.
Mr. Bryant introduced Shelia Devine and Robbie Goolsby, both school nurses who
discussed the need for school nurses. Ms. Devine noted that in schools having
school nurses, on average it saved teachers 7 hours a day in instruction time. Ms.
Goolsby discussed a number of the procedures performed by teachers following
training by the school nurses, pointing out many which required significant
training and forced the nurses to delegate a nursing responsibility to teachers
and teacher’s assistants. Mr. Bryant discussed a specific case at UpwardElementary
School where a new teacher was spending a minimum
of 45 minutes a day caring for a student with diabetes.
3.Jim Barrett – Mr. Barrett stated that
he was the Director of Pisgah Legal Services, which had an office on 4th Avenue East.
He thanked the Board for their funding of the Alliance agencies, of which Pisgah Legal
Services was one of their accredited safety net programs. Pisgah Legal Services
provides free legal assistance in non-criminal cases to help people meet basic
needs, such as helping victims of domestic violence get protective orders in
court. He stated that funding for the Alliance
had been static for many years, and urged the Board to increase that funding
level. The County funds Pisgah Legal at $10,000 per year, while the services
cost more than $250,000. Their request was for an additional $10,000 which
would provide an additional 20 domestic violence protective orders per year, or
help 25 families not be suddenly displaced. Mr. Barrett continued his
discussion regarding a variety of reasons why the County should increase Pisgah
Legal Services funding for the coming fiscal year.
4.Melanie Mullen – Ms. Mullen spoke as the
Director of the Alliance for Human Services for
the 14 non-profits who had gone through the accreditation process with the Alliance. She recognized
the representatives from the agencies funded by the County. She thanked the
Board for their time and consideration of the Alliance’s funding request.
5.Henry Johnson – Mr. Johnson stated that
he was speaking as a representative of the United Way of HendersonCounty
where he was the Executive Director. He believed it was time for the County to
consider an increase in the amount of funding provided to private non-profits.
He supported the Alliance’s Board recommendation
of $222,500 in County funding for 14 Alliance
accredited programs to help partially meet their needs. Funding for the Alliance had been static
at $180,000 for the past five years. County support of the programs had been
crucial, and had helped provide solutions to local human service issues that
would otherwise have fallen to the public sector – primarily to County
departments. The United way had seen an increased demand for program services
and the need for local funding, not only due to population growth but also due
to changes in federal and state support.
6.Jim Howard – Mr. Howard stated that
he was a member of the Board of the Alliance
for Human Services. For the last several years, a representative of the Alliance had come before
the Board and urged them to fund the human service agencies requesting County
grants. During that time, the lives of thousands of individuals had been
improved by the funding of those agencies. Those agencies save the County money
by providing services that would otherwise fall on the County. Some agencies
provide training and education for individuals to help them become job seekers
and applicants, when they otherwise might require public assistance. Funding is
also sometimes used as a match for federal or state grants. He discussed the financial
significance of the agencies as a source of jobs and salaries, and the impact
that has on the economics of the County.
7.Maurean Adams – Ms. Adams stated that
she was the Executive Director of the Children and FamilyResourceCenter,
one of the Alliance
accredited agencies. She stated that the Center improved the lives of children
and families. Since the inception of the center about five years ago, they had
grown from serving 500 to over 6,000. They had grown from 3 staff to 16. She
stated that they keep a thumb on what is going on with children in the
community, and stated that the County would see more diabetic children, more
abuse and more strain on the foster care system unless we work together with
families early in a child’s development before these problems become bigger
problems. The funding provided by the County is a collaborative piece of that
effort, and she asked that the Board give serious consideration to that funding
and the Alliance’s
8.Dr. Colin Thomas – Dr. Thomas stated that
he represented the free clinics as the incoming Board President of the free
clinics, also known as the VolunteerMedicalResourceCenter. He stated that
they provide free medical and dental care to uninsured low income residents of HendersonCounty. They use volunteer health care
professionals to provide those services. They had been in existence about 3 ½
years. In 2002, a study showed that 17% of HendersonCounty
residents had no health insurance, and 20,000 residents had an income less than
185% of the federal poverty level. All of those individuals can get their
health care in the hospital emergency rooms, and many do. However, the burden
on the emergency rooms can be lessened by individuals using the clinic. The
estimated value of services and medications given last year was $465,000 and
the estimated emergency room savings were $196,000.By using volunteer professionals, the
clinic can also lessen the Health Department’s need for increasing paid staff.
9.Dr. David Cook – Dr. Cook was present
representing Innerfaith Assistance Ministry. He thanked the Board for their
previous support of Medifind, a volunteer based program helping some of our
vulnerable, fragile citizens acquire medications. Last year, Medifind saved 649
residents $2,021,620 in medication expenses. He stated that this program also
creates a savings in reduction of visits to the emergency room, while improving
the health and quality of life for some older citizens. He asked that the Board
consider continuing to support Medifind.
10.Jill Van Horne –Ms. Van Horne stated
that she was a Counselor at MarloweElementary School. School
counselors are required to have a Master’s Degree in School Counseling. In
addition, many counselors in HendersonCounty have their license
to practice privately. Her time as a counselor is chiseled away with many tasks
not related to school counseling, which prevents her from developing a
comprehensive school counseling program as recommended by the American School
Counseling Association (ASCA). While all of the tasks being performed are
important, they are not the best use of time and education for school
counselors. Ms. Van Horne discussed a number of duties being performed by the
counselors that could be performed by a paraprofessional, leaving the counselors
to do the job they were trained to do.
11.Diane Bowers – Ms. Bowers stated that
she was the Executive Director of the Blue Ridge Literacy Council, an Alliance accredited
agency. She thanked the Board for their previous support, and requested their
support for the increase in the Alliance’s
budget. She stated that they were no longer the non-profits of the past, but
were lean, mean, and cut-throat and do a big, good and effective job in the
County. She pointed out that they were also held accountable now. Like the
school system, the Council must conduct standardized testing on every student
they work with. They are held accountable to federal standards of level
increasement, and consistently exceed federal mandates by 90 percentage points.
She noted that about five years ago a national accounting firm was commissioned
to do an economic impact analysis of the cash contributions to volunteer
literacy councils in the United
States. They found that for every dollar
donated, 33 dollars are returned to the local economy. Based on their past rate
of funding, the County’s contribution had returned to the local economy
$478,000 a year. She urged the Board to consider the Alliance’s request, stating that the County
would get it back.
12.Ann Crisp – Ms. Crisp stated that
she was an elementary school counselor at DanaElementary School.
She thanked the Board for the renovation and expansion project that had just
begun at the school. She spoke on behalf of the request to add additional
support staff in the School budget. She discussed the job of the school
counselors, stating that they help teach social, emotional and person skills,
they help students learn how to learn, and teach students how to earn a living.
She reiterated that her time as a counselor is chiseled away with many tasks
not related to school counseling., and requested the Board consider the funding
request which would allow the counselors to do their jobs.
13.Ken Perkins – Mr. Perkins is the
Director of Housing Assistance. He thanked the Board for raising the real
issues of affordable housing in the County. Housing Assistance is one of the
few non-profits in the County that bring tax dollars to the County budget. Over
the past few years, they had produced over $20 million worth of tax producing
shelter in the County. He discussed the Village at King Creek, stating that it
had received a lot of state and national attention. He stated that in addition
to providing new shelters, they needed to work to preserve the tax base already
here. He noted that they get countless calls for a program called Urgent
Repair, which preserved health, safety and warmth for the citizens occupying
those shelters. Very few dollars are available for home repair, and Mr. Perkins
requested the County help them get the dollars that were available by providing
a match for already promised State grants.
14.Dick Baird – Mr. Baird stated that
government finance is composed of three distinct groups of somewhat opposing
objectives: the service provider, the service consumer and the sugar daddy. The
service provider, the County and CountyManager, naturally
advocates for the service consumer. Mr. Baird stated that he was advocating for
the sugar daddy. Mr. Baird discussed true budget growth, the cost of illegal
immigrants to the residents, his ideas for improving the education system, that
there was not a need for a Development and Enforcement Services Division, and
the growth management strategies.
15.Kelly Dull – Ms. Dull stated that she
was a school counselor at EdneyvilleElementary School, and
was speaking of behalf of the request for support staff. She provided the
following monthly statistics from her school: 10-15 reports made to DSS, 10-15
family or individual referrals to counselors in the community, 80-100 students
seen for counseling, 45-50 students involved in small group counseling, 20-25
students are helped financially, about 100 contacts are made with teachers, and
50-55 contacts are made with parents. Additional support staff would allow
students to continue receiving the services they desperately need.
Commissioner McGrady made the motion to adjourn the meeting.
All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Elizabeth W. Corn, Clerk
to the BoardWilliam L. Moyer, Chairman