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
Also present were: Finance Director J. Carey McLelland, IT
Director Becky Snyder, Library Director Bill Snyder, Auditor
Absent was: Commissioner
CALL TO ORDER/WELCOME
Chairman Moyer called the meeting to order and welcomed all in attendance. The purpose of this meeting was a workshop on the FY 2007-2008 Budget.
FY 2007-2008 BUDGET – SCHOOLS
Chairman Moyer called Ervin Bazzle, Chairman of the Board of Education to the podium.
Mr. Ervin Bazzle stated that their budget was built on two aspects; current expense and capital outlay. Mr. Bazzle felt that the schools were in a bad position because for a number of years the schools, especially elementary, were neglected by being under-funded. The School Board is in the process now and had been since 1998 of trying to catch up. He shared information of needed renovations, repairs, and improvements that need to be done at many of the schools.
In 1993 when the city
and county school systems merged there was an agreement signed by the
Mr. Bazzle noted that in the previous year, had the state not refunded money to the schools from rollbacks, more than teachers supplements for supplies would have been cut, positions would have been cut. The “uncontrollable items” for this year’s budget request is over $700,000.
Mr. Bazzle briefly discussed capital outlay and stated that it was not being funded in a level that they could take care of the problems they have. This year there are two things in the capital budget that he noted; technology and a matter of the pump station needed at Flat Rock. The capital outlay budget is $2,785,000 and current expense is $18,951,648. The lower our tax base goes, the less money they get from the state.
Commissioner Williams stated that the Board of Commissioners has restraints. It is a challenge to stay within the growth rate. The Commissioners look at about 1/3 of the County funds going toward public education. The only alternative is to raise taxes or rob from other services that are provided which are just as important. What the Board must consider is what they can afford, how much is appropriate, and how much can they continue to increase this year and going forward?
Chairman Moyer stated that in respect to growth and school expenses, there were plenty of studies showing that the cost of residential development, when people are making good money on it, far exceeds what the dollars generated from that growth do that do not pay for the cost of that growth. It doesn’t pay for schools, recreation, and other items.
Chairman Moyer suggested the current expense be increased to $18.8 million.
Commissioner McGrady asked what would be left of the class-size reduction plan with the proposed budget cut.
Chairman Ervin Bazzle stated that at this point the schools did not have the space for new teachers.
Discussion followed between the Board of Education members and the Board of Commissioners with questions and concerns.
Chairman Moyer made the motion to increase the school budget by $800,000 and that it all be put in current expense, but allow the County Manager to talk to the superintendent of the schools to find out if they would like it split between current or capital in a different fashion and get back to the Board. This is a conditional approval with a provision that when the final budget information comes out that the tax rate not be in excess of 46.2 and that the fund balance not go below 12%. The voted passed 3 to 1 with Commissioners Williams voting nay.
stated that he had a problem going above the 12% threshold. He has a problem banking money when services
are needed in
Chairman Moyer confirmed the numbers for Ervin Bazzle as follows:
$2,098,675.00 was the
proposed capital budget from the
$18,002,573.00 was the
proposed current budget from the
Chairman Moyer added $800,000.00 to the proposed capital which can be allocated by the Board of Education.
A five minute break was taken to change video tapes.
FY 2007-2008 BUDGET – FIRE DEPARTMENTS
Chairman Moyer called
the meeting back to order. As part of the budget workshop the board would be
looking at some of the Fire Tax Districts.
Mr. Moyer mentioned that the Fire and Rescue Advisory Committee held
three meetings to review the budgets of all departments in exhausting
detail. Four departments were making a
presentation at this meeting. Chairman Moyer
thanked Lee Roy Nicholson and the Advisory Committee for the tremendous work
and reviews they had done. The four
departments making presentations were Dana, Etowah, Fletcher and
Chief of the Dana Fire and Rescue Jimmy Womack stated that the difference in numbers for 2007 versus 2006 was $125,334.00. Dana Fire and Rescue has three full-time paid firemen and were considering adding one additional fireman. They are in the process of looking at replacing two trucks that are over 20 years old. Depending on the condition of the trucks, it would cost $2,000-$20,000 to get the two trucks UL Certified. The Fire Department is looking at purchasing 2007 NFDA compliant air-packs to replace existing air-packs (turnout gear). In the previous year Dana Fire and Rescue had responded to over 1200 calls.
Chairman Moyer asked Mr. Womack to explain the insurance rating, when the department is up for re-inspection, and the importance of the vehicle on the insurance rating going forward.
Mr. Womack responded that the department’s insurance rating was up and it looked like in fall 2008 or spring of 2009 it would be due. They are looking at replacing one of the tankers with a bigger tanker, which would supply more water in the district, and replacing the engine in the other tanker. One tanker could cost anywhere from 250 to 400 thousand dollars depending on equipment.
Chairman Moyer informed the Board that the Fire and Rescue Advisory Committee voted unanimously to continue their rate at .10 after they were provided with this information.
Commissioner Messer noted that volunteers were a thing of the past. There was high growth in the Dana area and he agreed with the rate continuation.
Chairman Moyer stated that the Board accepted the recommendation of the Fire and Rescue Advisory Committee. It would not be official until the budget was adopted.
Chief of the Etowah Fire Department Roger Freeman, Treasurer Dan Hayes, and President Marty Austin came before the Board. Roger Freeman stated in regards to their budget they had originally requested eight and one-half cents (.085) to maintain where they were, however with the recent development projects going on in their district; Seven Falls, Biltmore Farms, Eade Road, and Crystal Springs, they have determined that the rate can be decreased to eight cents (.08).
The department has a truck that is twenty years old and they are looking at re-evaluating in 2009. They currently hold a class four rating which gives a break to the taxpayers.
Chairman Moyer asked Mr. Freeman to explain the efforts to put costs of added fire protection on the developer rather than the taxpayers.
Mr. Freeman explained
that the fire department had been working with Lapsley and Associates, the
representatives and developers of Biltmore Farms and
Chairman Moyer stated that the reason Etowah Fire Department was at the meeting was because when they made their presentation to the Fire and Rescue Advisory Committee there was concern that the developments would take longer than expected.
Commissioner McGrady commended the firemen and was supportive of the rate and recommended it for approval.
Chief of the Fletcher Fire Department Greg Garland requested to remain at the same rate of nine and one-half cents (.095). He focused on three areas; increasing starting pay in salary, adding three personnel for the substation and a sewer line project that would cost approximately $150,000. The bordering fire departments and bordering county fire department were polled to determine the salary range and they were the lowest paying department of all departments. To keep good employees they must increase their starting salary to be competitive.
Chairman Moyer stated that the Fire and Rescue Advisory Committee voted unanimously to continue with the nine and one-half cent rate (.095).
Chief of the Mills River Fire Department Rick
Livingston, Board of Director President Dr. Howard Norton and Board of Director
Treasurer Joe Fowler came before the Board.
Mr. Livingston reviewed the current status of the department. Due to growth they plan to begin construction
of a second substation which was recommended by the NC Department of Insurance
in the next two months. No additional
apparatus will be needed to equip the second (Boyleston) substation. They are looking at the possibility of a
third substation in the upper North and
Mr. Livingston stated that they had experiencee an unexplained reduction in tax revenue within the county portion of their district for the past three years even with huge growth. During this time they had been provided with nine different sets of numbers from the Tax Assessor’s Office. This had made the budget process very difficult. For the reasons given Mr. Livingston was requesting that their tax rate remain at six and one-half cents (.065). The rate was approved by the Mills River Town Council.
Chairman Moyer stated that the Fire and Rescue Advisory Committee unanimously recommended the continuation of the six and one-half cent rate (.065).
A five minute break was taken to change video tapes.
FY2007-2008 - GOVERNING BODY BUDGET
Chairman Moyer called the meeting back to order to continue the budget workshop. Governing Body was next under discussion. The Governing Body has two full-time employees and five part-time employees.
There was no change in
FY2007-2008 – COMPENSATION PLAN
Chairman Moyer noted
that the next item was the compensation plan.
Mr. Moyer explained that all major items had been discussed. The Board had requested that the
Commissioner McGrady asked if the electronics recycling and hazardous waste disposal project that the county had just completed was a recurring expenditure or a one time expenditure.
Commissioner Williams stated that looking at the current compensation plan the county is looking at a 5% increase annually. The proposed is between 3.5 and 4%. Mr. Williams questioned the retention bonus/lump sum payment.
County Manager Steve Wyatt responded that the increase by retention bonus was not added to base. It is a lump sum paid on/or around the anniversary date. The percentage ranges from 1% to 7.5% depending on number of years service or experience. Less than five years there is no payment. Five to nine years is 1%. At ten years it increases to 2% and so on.
Chairman Moyer raised questions in regard to the plan based on the experience he had with the county. The current plan does not move people in grade at all. The COLA and longevity are designed to compensate for the fact the plan does not move people properly through grade in reasonable steps. Chairman Moyer stated that all budgets had been reviewed and the Board must also look out for their employees. There is some concern with respect to the changes that are being made on the benefits side among the employees. Mr. Moyer suggested approving the plan as presented.
Commissioner McGrady supported the plan and was committed to 2008 but would like to look at the numbers again before making a future year decision.
Commissioner Messer supported the plan.
Commissioner Williams would like to see the items discussed earmarked to come from the fund balance.
Commissioner Messer made the motion for the Board to adjourn. All voted in favor and the motion carried.