The Henderson County
Board of Commissioners met for a special called meeting at in the Commissioners' Conference Room
Those present were: Chairman Bill Moyer, Vice-Chairman Charlie Messer, Commissioner Larry Young, Commissioner Shannon Baldwin, Commissioner Chuck McGrady, County Manager Steven Wyatt, Assistant County Manager Justin Hembree, Assistant County Manager Selena Coffey, County Attorney Russell Burrell, Planning Director Anthony Starr, Finance Director J. Carey McLelland, Deputy Clerk to the Board Amy Brantley, and Clerk to the Board Elizabeth W. Corn.
Also present were the following members of the Board of Public Education: Superintendent Stephen L. Page, Chairman Ervin W. Bazzle, Vice-Chairman Melissa L. Maurer, Kenneth Butcher, Betsy Copolillo, Mary Louise Corn, and Debbie Reemes. Absent was Jane Orwoll.
CALL TO ORDER/WELCOME
Chairman Moyer called the meeting to order and welcomed all in attendance. He explained that this was a joint meeting of the Henderson County Board of Commissioners and the Board of Public Education.
Chairman Bazzle called the Board of Public Education to order.
Chairman Moyer stated that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss two key issues:
1. Schools’ maintenance budget and maintenance projects and how to effectively work together
in the coming year to be sure that the schools are kept in very good shape and the school board has sufficient monies to enable them to do so.
Chairman Moyer explained that both boards were very surprised when we received a $13,000,000 quote on what it would take to do the project that we had agreed would be done. The quote was not acceptable to either board. We all agreed to re-examine that project and see how we could immediately get that project moving so we could get it moving forward this year in an effective manner.
Maintenance Budget and Maintenance Projects
Chairman Moyer stated that we would begin with the maintenance issue. He asked Chairman Bazzle to lay out that issue.
Chairman Bazzle explained that they were in a mess in 1998 and 1999. The relationship between the two boards was not good and there wasn’t any degree of trust at all. At that point, everyone agreed that the facilities were not maintained properly and were in disrepair. Working together with then Superintendent Yeager, Bill Barnwell (Asst. Superintendent before) and their staff went through every school we had and compiled a master list of all the things that needed to be done, from repairing plumbing to roofs, carpet, everything. That was called the master list. Bill Barnwell started that in January of 1999 and finished the master list six months later. That master list still exists. It is updated and changed on a yearly basis. As we add inventory to that process, it is added to the master list. At the same time, an informal agreement existed between the two boards whereby the amount of the capital budget which includes all those things, maintenance, repairs, school buses, etc. would be increased to around $2,000,000 to $2,100,000 and there was another $200,000 that came out of sources that the School Board put into that.
Mr. Bazzle stated that from 2001 to 2005 they were operating with the idea that they would have about $2,000,000 to $2,100,000 each year to fund projects and they built their list accordingly from the master list they had. David Jones is no longer the person in charge of school buildings, Bo Caldwell is but they work together and are still there. They go through that list each year and add and subtract. For the years 2002 through 2005, whatever was on the list was done if it came in under budget, bar none. There were four projects that were not done, three were bid over project, came back in and had to be rolled to the next year. The fourth had to be moved because Flat Rock’s roof came down and they were told they had to fix it and had to move it up in the list. He stated those are the only four times that he knows of since 2000 through 2005 that anything listed on that project list was not done.
Chairman Bazzle explained
that as you go through the year things happen that cause you to use funds. The only other source they have for funds
like the repair work is to come to the Board of Commissioners and ask for that
money or to use the money they have and try to make it back up the next year or
move priority lists down. Starting in 2005 and 2006 the scene changed. The
$2,000,000 to $2,100,000 budget request that they sent over to the Board of
Commissioners was not approved, $1,600,000 was approved. The other amount of
money they were told to take out of their capital reserve and use. Etowah sewer happened, the bleacher stands at
Ervin Bazzle stated that the Board of Commissioners was shown some slides and pictures of maintenance needs. They were not shown to embarrass the Board, they were shown to show the condition of what they were asking for. Mr. Bazzle took the blame for that.
Chairman Bazzle stated that he’s bothered by where we are right now, and he hoped to put it to rest, he’s worked a long time on this and he feels everyone has the same interests. He feels the two boards know each other and trust each other. He knows of no specific incident where the Board of Commissioners has given the Board of Public Education money to do a project that has not been done, except for the few instances stated earlier. Mr. Bazzle stated “We can’t operate if we don’t trust each other… If we have to give you periodic reports which I think probably is a better idea because I really don’t know how you can go through our budget request with that many different things to be done and tell the difference between carpet at Rugby Middle and Flat Rock and whether it was there the year before. I think the proper way to do it is to give you periodic reviews like we do in the joint facilities but give you those reviews so you see where we are on the lineate projects. Now to operate, I think the best way I can go from right now is if there is a specific question you have about something that you’ve heard. I have not heard one thing, not one thing from any member of my staff or faculty about something that I’ve said that we were gonna do that we didn’t do. If we didn’t do it, they understood why.”
Commissioner Baldwin stated that it was important to have a strategic planning meeting with both boards. He recommended that the two boards embrace that process in the future.
Following much discussion, Chairman Moyer stressed that just before the budget was adopted, the Board was very desirous of having this meeting before adopting the budget so certain language wouldn’t have to go into the budget ordinance. The scheduling of the meeting couldn’t happen that quickly and the Board was told that they could not make the budget ordinance more restrictive after adopting it so they aired on the side of being restrictive. There is a clear clause in there that states once we have this meeting and the two boards reach an agreement, certain language can be lifted.
Steve Wyatt stated that in the state’s budge is about $170,000,000 which is dedicated for counties in the up-coming year in the lottery proposal. He believes that up until yesterday or today that money was only on paper but he received notification today at that the General Assembly appropriated $425,000,000 for the lottery education fund and of that they have ear-marked $170,000,000 toward the public school capital building fund. Basically they have anticipated revenue and in anticipation of that revenue, they have funded this. It will be similar to the ADM fund which we are currently using for Balfour, etc. We will be able to get quarterly distributions of the monies. The key is that the money has been appropriated. The Board has flexibility as of that they did not have previously. With the appropriation that gives the board the ability, should the Board of Commissioners see fit, to lift whatever restrictions. The funding for the capital expense in the coming year’s budget is $2,839,000 and as the school system goes forward throughout the year and spends that money, given the appropriation, he feels that we will be on tract to be able to work that down, draw, work that down, draw, etc. So as far as the restriction at this point, he feels that if the Board of Commissioners wants to thaw (unfreeze) those funds and make them available, they can. Those funds are basically for category I expenditures under the capital expense: renovation, construction, additions, physical facility type issues. You can’t use it on technology or on vehicles, it must be facility specific.
More on maintenance issues
Chairman Moyer made the motion that given the appropriation of $900,000 by the General Assembly, the restrictions on the maintenance money are lifted. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Chairman Bazzle requested that the line item restriction be lifted with the provision that the Board of Public Education be required to periodically report to the Board of County Commissioners.
Commissioner McGrady made the motion to lift the line item restrictions in the budget with respect to the maintenance items listed on the schedule and with the understanding that the school board will quarterly report to the Board of Commissioners on the projects that are being funded. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
There was some discussion of how the Board of Commissioners planned to use the quarterly reports from the Board of Public Education. Chairman Moyer stated that he intends to use it to compare the listing of the projects that the School Board intends to fund this year to compare to the report and see that those projects are done. It will help the Commissioners to be able to answer questions from citizens/constituents regarding maintenance issues. It was the consensus that the reports would be good for both boards. There were a couple of Commissioners who expressed an interest in having joint board meetings in place of joint facilities meetings.
Chairman Bazzle stated that
if he had believed that this Board had the authority to pull
Chairman Bazzle started the
He presented four different
plans to the Board of Commissioners: Plan A , Plan B, Plan C, and Plan D. The
new construction is configured on the football field and track that is there
now. That is an option. They used the
What was bid out was building 17 new classrooms and renovating 13 classrooms.
Ken Butcher explained that it is basically in two phases and at the end of the first phase you would have most of what you want. You would have the new gym and new cafeteria and most of your classrooms (Plan D). Phase II would be redoing that current cafeteria building.
There was much discussion regarding growth and the affect that has on our school facilities. The Commissioners felt that the Board of Public Education should consider looking at a capacity of 700 students, core facilities for 700 students and additional classrooms could be added later to bring capacity up to 700. Some of our schools are just about maxed out by the time they are constructed and in use.
The Board of Public Education was not ready to make a recommendation regarding the four plans and which they prefer at this time.
Pros and cons of the different plans were discussed.
Recommendations from Commissioners
Commissioner Young recommended tearing the older building down at Mills River, next to the cafeteria, tear the old high school part down and move in closer to the cafeteria building and connect it with a new school footprint of the Fletcher or Clear Creek and accommodate and use the media center and the part we’ve spent a lot of money on. In other words build a new school but incorporate it into the best part of the current school and go to 700 capacity.
Commissioner Messer was OK with the idea of looking at 700 capacity and come up with a plan that is in the best interests of our first and second graders, whenever they get to the kindergarten and up. If we can offset some of the wave now we’d be better off. He agreed that it is better to build a little bigger in the beginning than to build too small and then have to add mobile units.
Commissioner Baldwin stated that he felt one thing we need to do is look at setting the stage to bump up the capacity numbers, if and when we have to. Otherwise you’re looking at buying land and that’s going to be much more difficult to do in the future and will be much more expensive. He stated that the campus concept is the way to not duplicate recreation fields and other support facilities for one campus.
Commissioner McGrady stated that of the options provided, Plan D was his preference. He was not in favor of increasing the number of student capacity.
Chairman Moyer stated that his preference would also be Plan D but he would ask the Board of Public Education to look at the common areas and increase capacity for core areas. He feels we need to prepare for the future and knows that it would be far cheaper to add to the capacity of core structures now that to have to go back and add in the future.
Chairman Ervin Bazzle
Chairman Bazzle thanked the Board of Commissioners for the opportunity to meet and talk over issues together.
Chairman Moyer stated that he would like to see the time schedule continue to move. He wasn’t sure when the Board of Public Education would meet but hoped it would be soon and they would come back to the Board of Commissioners as soon as possible.
Motion for Board of Public Education
Ken Butcher moved that the Board get together next week and go over these options.
Commissioner Baldwin made the motion to adjourn the meeting. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Chairman Bazzle accepted the same motion from his board and the motion carried.
Elizabeth W. Corn, Clerk to the Board William L. Moyer, Chairman