The Henderson County
Board of Commissioners met for a regularly scheduled meeting at 8:30 a.m. in
the Commissioners' Meeting Room of the Historic Courthouse on
Those present were: Chairman Bill Moyer, Vice-Chairman
Also present were: Associate County Attorney Sarah Zambon, Deputy Clerk to the Board Terry Wilson, and Public Information Officer Pam Brice as well as numerous department heads.
CALL TO ORDER/WELCOME
Chairman Moyer called the meeting to order and welcomed all in attendance. He stated that this is the Board’s Planning Workshop, a very important session.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Commissioner Messer led the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag.
Chairman Moyer explained that the Board is having an abbreviated agenda today, not all the items we normally have. A few consent agenda items couldn’t wait until the February 2 meeting so they are on this agenda.
DISCUSSION/ADJUSTMENT OF AGENDA
There were no adjustments to the agenda. Commissioner McGrady made the motion to approve the agenda as submitted. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Commissioner McGrady made the motion to adopt the consent agenda. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Consent Agenda consisted of the following:
Draft minutes were presented for board review and approval of the following meetings:
November 3, 2008
November 14, 2008
November 19, 2008
Tax Collector’s Report
Deputy Tax Collector Carol McCraw had presented the Tax Collector’s Report to the Commissioners dated January 9, 2009 for information only. No action was required.
Henderson County Hospital Corporation acquisition of land
As part of
The following motion was suggested:
I move that the Board approve the purchase as indicated in the draft contract attached to this agenda item.
Reimbursement resolution for Henderson County Hospital Corporation
Henderson County Hospital Corporation’s Board of Trustees has determined it would be in the best interest of the Corporation to purchase several local medical practices, in accord with its long-term plans. Included in these purchases will be the purchase of certain real estate used in such practices.
The Hospital Corporation contemplates that the initial purchases of these practices should be made from available cash reserves. However, the Corporation Board wants to keep open for now the option of financing these purchases. To do so, since all real estate is held in the name of the County, and since any borrowing done would (1) require County approval and (2) likely require the real estate to be pledged as collateral for the loan. To do so with a later purchase, and to meet the public financing requirements for a County borrowing, this resolution is required.
The following motion was suggested:
I move that the Board adopt the Reimbursement Resolution contained together with this agenda item.
2009 HOME Grant Applications
Habitat for Humanity and
Housing Assistance Corporation (HAC) are requesting funding application
submission approval for HOME funds. HOME funds are administered through the
Asheville Regional Housing Consortium. HAC requests $100,000 for their
Homeownership Program through USDA Rural Development Self-Help to assist 5
low-income families (3 between 50-80% of the
Habitat for Humanity requests $170,000 for road construction (phase 4 roadway) and septic tank installation for 10 homes (phase 4 section) in the Shuey Knolls development in the Edneyville community.
The HOME grant application requires Board approval prior to submission (January 31, 2009 deadline).
Planning Staff recommends approving the submission of these HOME funding applications to the Asheville Regional Housing Consortium at their full amount. The complete applications were too lengthy to be included in the agenda packet but are available upon request.
The following motion was suggested:
I move that the Board approve the HOME applications for the
Housing Assistance Corporation and
Service Demand Trend Summary
Selena reviewed this section with the Board. Service demand has dropped in several departments but has picked up in others:
Demand down Demand up
Environmental Health Health Department
Inspections Law Enforcement
Planning (Plat Reviews and Development Library
Application Reviews) Planning (Major planning projects)
Register of Deeds (all but issuing marriage license) Social Services
Solid Waste Public Transit
Basically, in hard economic times you’ll see a decrease in development services and an increase in human services.
Chairman Moyer questioned how this information would be made available to the public. Staff stated that the information would be put on our website. Copies will be available in the office for people to view or they can purchase copies.
Energy Reduction Performance Report
Selena Coffey explained that we have six months of data on the following:
Electricity – reduced consumption of kilowatt hours by 6.5%.
Natural Gas – reduced consumption of therms by 24%.
Gas – reduced consumption of gallons of gasoline by 7.7%.
Diesel – reduced consumption of gallons of diesel fuel by 5.6%.
Selena also shared a bar graph on Fuel Cost Trend Summary for the same timeframe.
In September staff put into effect an emergency fuel usage policy where we only allowed emergency vehicles to use our county fuel supply and, of course, that was the bulk of the savings in gasoline use.
Currently the county uses 100 gallons per day of diesel fuel and 600 gallons per day of gasoline.
Chairman Moyer requested quarterly reports of service demands and energy costs on the Board’s regular agendas.
Departmental Cost Allocation Summary
Darlene Burgess (Internal Auditor) stated that cost allocation was based on the FY 2008 budget. Reductions were made from the budgets of Human Resources, Engineering & Facility Services, Information Technology, General Debt Service, Special Projects, and Transfers to Other Funds. The reductions were allocated to the various departments based on criteria that would most accurately allocate the costs.
She explained that from the Human Resources budget $72,371 was allocated to other departments, based on the number of benefit eligible employees. Included in this allocation were some of the wellness clinic expense, background checks for employees, cobra benefits, drug screenings, employee assistance program costs, flex spending accounts costs, and advertising costs for new positions.
Engineering & Facility Services - $2,569,695 was allocated, mostly based on square footage with the exception of several line items such as automotive supplies which was based on fuel usage. Included in these costs were items such as janitorial supplies and services, rental of real property, insurance, and maintenance and repair.
Information Technology - $455,538 was allocated, based on the number of computers used by each department. Some of the allocations, such as software maintenance and support were direct allocations to departments. Included in these allocations were e-mail costs, server expenses, software licenses, and maintenance agreements.
General Debt Services - $3,782,146 was allocated. The allocations in debt service were allocated based on square footage. Included in this category is debt service for the Etowah Library, Historic Courthouse, Sixth Avenue Clubhouse, Vehicle voting machines, the Jail and Human Services building.
Transfers/Non-Departmental Expenses $996,211 was allocated and includes the wellness clinic expenses, Historic Courthouse facility costs, Consulting and Grants Locator fees, and transfers to Public Schools.
Darlene Burgess explained that Governing Body’s budget changed by 261% because 92% of the debt service on the Historic Courthouse was allocated to the Governing Body based on square footage.
She explained that most of the large percentages of change were because of debt service. The cost of facilities include electricity, costs for heating, maintenance, lawn care because we don’t have debt service for many of our facilities. Parks and Recreation had some items for the FY 2008 such as sewer line construction, capital outlay for buildings and improvements.
Capital Plan Update
Carey McLelland explained that the actual outstanding debt ($117,939,042) is 0.91% of the total FY 2009 assessed tax value and the Board Policy maximum is 3.0%. Actual debt service payments are 13.38% of the FY 2009 General Fund budgeted expenditures and the Board Policy maximum is 15%. The current balance of the Capital Reserve Fund is $2,437,195. None of this $2.4 million has been ear-marked.
Carey McLelland reviewed outstanding debt principal:
2009 – Public Schools $75,787,920
The Board was given the numbers starting with FY 2009 and going to 2019.
2009 is the last year for debt payments on the 1998 School Bonds for Public Schools and for the Community College.
Carey McLelland explained that rates are starting to come down, he is looking at the possibility of refunding or refinancing some of this debt. He will share some information with the Board and the Manager on that in the near future. Our highest priced debt currently is our debt on the detention center. It is also our oldest debt.
Mark Williams stated that as we reduce our debt load, it enables us to have a little more borrowing power. He had specifically asked for this information to help guide the Board in the Capital Plan.
Carey McLelland stated that our grand total of debt service payments for 2009 are $15,400,368.
The following list of Capital Projects has not been funded in the FY 2008-2009, or projected FY 2009-2010 budgets:
· Schools: Classroom Additions/Bus Garage
· New Fletcher Library/Main Library Upgrade
Chairman Moyer stated that the Board needs to update the list at this time and look at other possibilities. We have problems with lack of capacity in the new Courthouse and problems associated with that overcrowding. The issue of the shooting range has been raised. The Board will need to take a good look and prioritize this list.
Chairman Moyer called a 10 minute break, starting back at 10:00 a.m.
FY 2007-2008 Year End Summary
Total General Fund Budget
There were four pages of county expenditures for the FY 2007-2008 budget.
Carey McLelland addressed some of the major variances in expenditures. Board of Elections had about 40% in unspent temporary and over-time wages and benefits. There was $49,000 in contracted and professional services still available at fiscal year end that didn’t have to be spent. There were also $88,000 in other operating line items to make up the total for Board of Elections of a $177,934 variance.
Carey McLelland mentioned the following:
Assessor’s Office had $211,947 variance. A little over $100,000 in lapsed salaries was unspent.
Legal had $73,346 in salary and benefits.
Building Services had $174,422 – a couple of positions that have not been replaced so there are lapsed salaries and benefits.
Carey stated that the Health Programs were grant funds, unspent was $238,855.
Under DSS – Federal and State – Medicaid was the majority of the $1,486,632, due to the Medicaid Swap Relief Package that the General Assembly approved. Carey McLelland stated that we budgeted the full amount of Medicaid that we anticipated having to pay off but the budget was approved before the General Assembly actually acted on that piece of legislation so we had $1.4 million in savings there.
addressed a $2,150,566 savings in debt service for the schools, because we
anticipated starting these projects earlier in FY 2008 and obtaining our
financing; however, the projects were not ready to proceed and we ended up not
actually starting until late in the fiscal year and we obtained our loan in
April of 2008. That money ended up not
having to be spent and rolled over to the current fiscal year for our first
debt service payment.
Stan Duncan addressed the Board, stating that the tax base is made up of four different components. The real property component is the largest (about 83% of the total tax base projections). He stated that he and his staff spend their time going out in the field and verifying properties on record and making sure it is as accurate as of January 1 of each year as they can. Personal property, with regards to business personal property especially, has steadily dropped off over the last couple of years. Looking ahead to FY 2009-2010 he continues to see that will probably be the case. He stated that when we see any kind of plant lay-offs and people lose their jobs, there will be a certain amount of people who go into an entrepreneurial type mode and will start a service connected job like lawn services, mowing and landscaping has been a big one over the past year or two. So you may see additional growth in the total number of business accounts but they will be very small business accounts. We’re not seeing the kind of growth we would have seen 5-8 years ago. He explained that the other piece of this is registered motor vehicles. In registering motor vehicles they are starting to see that people are not buying new cars as rapidly or as frequently as they used to buy new cars. So the cars that we have on record are gaining another year of depreciation. In the past we would have seen some growth in new car purchases and older cars being traded in and taken off our records, that is simply not taking place now. In addition, starting with the September renewals in 2008, those vehicles were valued as of their value on January 1, 2009. They saw about a 22-28% reduction in certain types of vehicles, specifically large SUVs and large pick-up trucks. Combine all this together and you end up with a significant reduction that we are projecting for FY 2009-2010 in the registered motor vehicle component to the total tax base. Mr. Duncan stated that the last piece, that we have very little knowledge of until they tell us what the numbers are, comes from the NC Department of Revenue and that has to do with the Public Utilities or Public Service Companies. Last year, for example, Stan stated they projected on a $200,000,000 contribution there and it actually came out to $198,000,000. In all of these except for real property, in the coming year, he will be making projections and has been making projections that he has shared with the Manager and Chairman to some degree, that are less in everything except for real property. He stated we’ve had a little bit of growth in real property but not sufficient to overcome necessarily the losses in personal property. Registered motor vehicles is really the big one. Stan Duncan stated, for all intensive purposes, we are essentially flat, we’re maybe $100,000,000 to the good but we are essentially flat for 2009-2010.
FY 2007-2008 Budget Performance
Total General Fund Budget
Revised Budget Actual Variance %Variance
Revenues $115,053,276 $115,984,928 $931,652 +0.81%
Expenditures $115,053,276 $108,697,973 $6,355,303 +5.5
Variance $0 $7,286,955 $7,286,955 +6.33%
Mr. Wyatt reminded the Board of our big ticket items which make up a substantial chunk of our budget; Medicaid and school debt service. He raised caution that these are one-time occurrences. Something like that could happen again but they are unlikely. He feels our timing is excellent to have been able to build up some of that cushion.
Fund Balance Available (based on current year budget)
Unreserved General Fund Balance = $21,872,379 (18.7%)
12% Board of Commissioners Fund = $14,050,098 (12%)
Chairman Moyer felt that the Board should discuss whether the 12% policy is still appropriate. He has been amazed at talking with other counties that the majority of them think we are on the very low side. A number of them have told him they use 15% as a bare minimum in these economic times. He hasn’t found anyone who is at the level we are that aren’t in trouble. He’s hearing a lot of 20%s. Maybe we need to adjust ours.
He also stated that we still have hanging over us what the state is going to do to balance their budget.
FY 2008-2009 Mid-Year Financial Report
Carey McLelland stated that the $592,300 revision to the Sheriff’s Department budget was mainly because we had borrowed $550,000 earlier in the fiscal year to do an expansion to our E-911 Communications Center. That gets budgeted in the Sheriff’s Department and there are loan proceeds to offset it on the revenue side. That is a large one-time expenditure.
Economic Development - $331,250 revision – Carey McLelland explained that we received a $300,000 grant for the agricultural ADFP Trust Fund Grant for the apple wedge project. That is one-time grant money as well as the $31,000 final payment to Elkamet for their NC 1 Fund payment.
Health Fund – Carey McLelland explained that we received a new $380,000 Childhood Obesity Program Grant. This is also a one-time funding.
Recreation – There was a management decision to move parks and maintenance folks from Central Services over to Recreation. That was a Board approved budget amendment.
General Fund Total – we have expended 46.4% of our budget for half the year.
Mr. Wyatt then addressed
FY 2008-2009 Revenues. He stated that
revenues are difficult to project, some are not in our control. Much of it
depends on when people pay their taxes. We are currently at 78.8% of paid
property taxes. Total General Fund
Revenues = 57.5% for half the year. We
are only slightly ahead of budget.
Permits & Fees – Carey McLelland stated that category includes inspection fees and recording fees in our Register of Deeds Office which are way off at this point in time, somewhere in the 20-25% range.
Sales & Services – Carey McLelland stated this category includes planning enforcement and environmental health, sanitation fees.
Steve stressed that no fund balance has been appropriated and our goal is to not have to spend it.
He does feel that we are about on target in revenues. There are concerns about October, November, and December going forward – sales tax revenues.
Steve reviewed a graph with the Board regarding FY 2008-2009 Sales Tax Revenues, with the bottom line being that we are at + $507,178 or half a million dollars ahead halfway through the year. He cautioned the Board that it is not because sales have been good. It’s because we reduced projections in the spring. We will get November’s sales tax figures mid-month February.
FY 2009-2010 Financial Projections
FY 2009-2010 Revenue Assumptions
· No increase in property tax rate
· Overall property tax base growth less than 1%
· Flat sales tax projections and loss of final ¼ cent Article 44 sales tax due to Medicaid Swap
· No incorporations
· No fund balance appropriated
FY 2009-2010 Projected Revenues
Revenues are projected based on the above assumptions.
· Ad Valorem Taxes – Current Year $58,123,758 (relatively level)
· Ad Valorem Taxes – Prior Year $1,470,000
· Local Option Sales Taxes $17,872,602 (a dip here)
· Other Taxes and Licenses $1,132,550
· Unrestricted Intergovernmental $62,000
· Restricted Intergovernmental $20,771,863
· Permits and Fees $1,291,500
· Sales and Services $7,539,161
· Investment Earnings $900,000
· Other Revenues (Includes Fire Dept. Agreement) $2,253,527
· Transfers from Other Funds $410,000
· Fund Balance Appropriated $0
TOTAL GENERAL FUND REVENUES $111,826,961
Difference FY 2008-2009 to FY 2009-2010 $5,706,018
That’s a big difference between current revenues and projected revenues, $5,706,018.
Stan Duncan explained that the General Assembly enacted some major changes that involve tax relief for our elderly and for our veterans. One is an expansion of an existing program – we actually increased the amount of tax value that we took out of the tax base by about 30% last year from what it had been in the previous year. He stated that we do not have a good feel for how much additional will be taken out with that expansion for this year but he expects it to be somewhere in the neighborhood of about another 10% to be taken out from that part of the base. That particular program involves local homes for personal property as well as single family residences for someone who’s 65 years of age or older and makes less than $25,600 in calendar year 2008 from all sources, then they qualify for 50% reduction in their assessed value on just the homesite, the home itself and any kind of related residential improvement so it’s a pretty big program.
Stan Duncan explained
that the second piece is something you may have read about or heard about
called a circuit breaker. That has to do with limiting a person’s property tax
bill to a percentage of their actual income for the previous calendar
year. The first threshold is a $25,600
ceiling for income and someone may elect to limit their tax bill which would be
a combination of the
Stan Duncan thinks that if you qualify for the circuit breaker, there is a deferred lien placed on that property for the amount of tax above the 4% or above the 5% and most of our citizens have expressed they don’t like having a lien lay out there for a number of years on their property for property tax purposes. They like to take care of it on an annual basis.
Stan Duncan explained
that the other expansion program has to do with veterans and if you are a
permanently disabled veteran as result of a service connected disability, then
you can qualify for the first $45,000 to be taken off the value of that
home. The big part of this is it is the
only program that is portable to the spouse so if the spouse of a veteran is
still unmarried then this benefit is portable to that spouse as well. Mike
Murdock had indicated to Mr. Duncan that there is where the larger number of
applicant pool will come from, will be those spouses. They have looked at the revenue law
subcommittee as a way to try to correlate income to value of residences but
have found no data base anywhere in the country that allows them to do that so
they will simply monitor it this first year. They are building some estimates
into the numbers that he has shared with the
Chairman Moyer felt it important to stress to folks that these are state programs and state regulations. They require specific forms and we have to follow their rules when we implement the program.
Stan Duncan explained that his folks have come up with a brochure that they are happy to send out to anyone who calls their office. They have been on the radio stations and they have been fortunate enough to get an article in the local newspaper about the tax relief programs. They want people to know about them. It is not a guarantee that if they call and make application that they will get it, but staff will certainly work with them to try to make sure the information is accurate and they know what their responsibilities are.
FY 2009-2010 Expenditure Assumptions
· County government overall operating budget reduced by $2,060,080
· Education operating budgets maintained at current level
· No growth percentage projected for Mental Health Maintenance of Effort funding, or
grant funded programs
· No new capital projects requiring debt service
· No obligation to fund Medicaid in FY 2009-2010
· One time NC Agricultural and Farmland Trust Fund Grant excluded in FY 2009-2010
· Flat fuel costs (gas and diesel)
FY 2009-2010 Projected Expenditures
HC Public School System
· Current Expense $20,205,922
· Capital Expense $2,255,339
· Debt Service $9,111,197
· Operational Expense $2,314,409
· Capital Expense $90,724
· Debt Service $1,498,977
TOTAL GENERAL FUND = $114,654,035
Projected Current Obligations for FY 2010
General Fund Expenditures $114,654,035
Projected Revenues $111,826,961
· Based on a tax base valuation of $12,970,000,000 in FY 2010, 1 TRE = $1,258,090
· Based on tax base estimate provided 12/17/2008
· $2,437,195 is currently held in the Capital Reserve Fund
To fund projected current obligations:
Fund Balance = (above the 12% BOC Policy) 16.3% currently $7,822,281
Needed to fund FY 2009-2010 Current Obligations = $2,827,074
There was some Board discussion regarding the increase in Public Health services and DSS services due to the economic climate and less services needed in Planning and Inspections. There may be a need to adjust upward for the departments who need to provide additional services and potentially make cuts in the areas where the demand for those services are down.
Commissioner McGrady asked that Carey pull up information and share with the Board regarding fund balance percentages and actual numbers that other counties are using. Everyone (other counties too) is fearful of what the sales tax might be and, if this economic situation continues the way it is, what the service demand might be on particularly the social services side. Before he is ready to make a firm decision regarding the next budget, those are numbers he would be interest in. He doesn’t see the need to mess with the fund balance policy at this time because he doesn’t think the citizens want the Board serving as their bank. He stated on the other hand, if our fund balance is high, we can’t just spend it down on things that will create continuing obligations for us.
Chairman Moyer called a 1 hour break for the Commissioners and staff to have lunch in the Community Room.
Board of Commissioners’ FY 2009-2010 Priority Setting
Chairman Moyer thanked staff for the wealth of valuable information they had provided to the Board. He stated the Board should now build on that, seeing what additional information is needed and what additional direction the Board needs to give to staff.
Chairman Moyer stated that the capital projects may have an impact on the Federal Stimulus Program. He wished to begin with a discussion of the Capital Projects:
Schools: Classroom Additions/Bus Garage
Chairman Moyer stated that with respect to the Schools and their capital projects, he thinks that the Joint Facilities Committee (Larry and Bill sit on that Committee representing the Board) should meet as quickly as they can and see what they have in mind so that information can be incorporated into this for discussion with this Board. As we get into budget deliberations, the Board can decide when they are ready to talk to the full School Board or how to handle this.
Chairman Moyer stated
that with respect to the
Sheriff Davis stated the
expansion for the
Chairman Moyer stated that it looks like this might be one of those projects that won’t get a date assigned to it at this time, but will stay on the Board’s radar.
Sheriff Davis added that currently they see a bottleneck in their booking area. That bottleneck translates to deputies, troopers, police officers not being able to get back out on the street as quickly as what we would like. He feels that with the ICE money that they are now generating, they would do a very small expansion enclosing part of a week-ender section that opens directly to the outside (seems to be a design flaw) and could literally have that capacity of 32 more beds immediately and at a substantially lower rate. It would help get officers back on the street and would additionally enclose that area so that it wasn’t a security risk. He stated that is a minor project, maybe $1 million to $1.5 million.
Chairman Moyer suggested Sheriff Davis write that up and submit it as part of the budget process.
Sheriff Davis stated that the Sheriff’s department is bursting at the seams now, above capacity. There have been some changes to some state and federal laws so that they now have to hold onto evidence much longer and they have no option, they have to have a secured facility to put those items in. There are more and more items that they are having to hold onto. He doesn’t see how they can keep sustaining this without going into some other type of facility just for storage capacity alone. For instance, he just reassigned when they did some reduction in force recently – he reassigned one position to the criminal investigations. There is a higher workload there now because of the economy. There is no place currently to put that person. As far as a timeframe – he can’t imagine how we can get another facility (third facility) and keep it secured for evidence. His timeframe would be sooner rather than later because he feels this is really starting to hinder operations. They are having to “rob Peter to pay Paul” constantly. Sheriff Davis thinks it would be prudent at some point that this be addressed. He constantly has projects that are maintenance type items that are going wrong in major ways. He hates to see us keep putting money into maintenance issues if we know something is on the horizon. “The next thing that we’ll have to do is a major expansion down at our evidence impound building. If that area is going to be used at some point for an expansion onto the courthouse or an expansion for whatever, I would hate to see us sink money into that only to have it torn down later. So, some type of direction on a timeframe would be very helpful to us in order for us to save money long-term.”
When questioned about a timeframe by a Commissioner, Sheriff Davis replied that at the current rate that they are storing and holding evidence alone, he doesn’t see how they can sustain five years, not without some type of an additional facility. “Five years from now would be an outside number.”
Chairman Moyer felt that the issues needed split, stating that they had talked about the evidence storage and the Board knows that is an issue to deal with. You can’t say that to solve that problem we have to have a law enforcement center. “We can solve that problem with a metal building and some other issues.”
Commissioner McGrady questioned how much is it going to cost us to maintain the spaces that law enforcement are currently in that are clearly inadequate. He is just trying to get a timeframe for the capital project. His impression is that 5-6 years from now we need the building built and if that is the case then we need to get this project online to begin the planning process next year or certainly the year after.
Chairman Moyer reminded the Board that there are other possibilities out there, other than building a new facility for law enforcement. Discussions were halted due to the economic times we are in.
Commissioner Young felt that the Board needs to sit and have a thorough discussion on capital projects and property that we need to sell. We have the assessor and the collector in the courthouse that need to be in other places so that room can be expanded in the courthouse for other court functions. He thinks the Board needs to have a special called meeting and look at capital projects, where we want to go, and what we’ve got available, what we’re going to do with excess properties we have and how we’re going to restructure it all the way through. He feels that until the Board addressed all this, they will not know where they are going.
Sheriff Davis said “In 1992 there was a Captain that presented to then Sheriff Jackson, plans for a law enforcement center and Sheriff Jackson, who never said anything about wanting anything – I remember very vividly him putting his hands on his suit and saying this was needed twenty years ago. So you can well imagine where we’re at now.”
Chairman Moyer also suggested to Sheriff Davis that he do a write up on the evidence issue for budget consideration.
New Fletcher Library/Main Library Upgrade
Chairman Moyer asked Bill Snyder, Public Library Director, to update the Board on these issues.
Bill Snyder explained
that for a number of years, at least ten, the libraries’ highest priority for
facilities improvements has been the Fletcher Library. Fletcher Library is over
20 years old now. It is not the property of
Chairman Moyer stated
that for a number of years this project has been pushed but the Town of
Bill Snyder stated that
the Town of Fletcher promised us a number of years ago that they would provide
property (Bill Moyer stated “many years ago”) and the Town, within the last
calendar year, did meet with the Library Board and said that even if the Town
is not ready to proceed with the project, they have the land and will make it
available and anytime the Library wants to proceed with this they (the Town)
are ready. Bill Snyder said he didn’t think we could keep waiting for the Town
Bill Snyder stated that the Main Library is coming up on 20 years old and they have issues, with any facility that is being used that heavily over a 20 year period. He said the main issue is electrical. The lighting system was not terribly good when it was installed and it has deteriorated over the years. They are in a situation where the lighting fixtures are getting so archaic that they can’t replace parts any longer. In the next 2-5 years he thinks a plan needs compiled to update the building and keep it usable for the next 20 years. He didn’t have a good budget number on that because architects and engineers would need to be brought in. He certainly feels it would fall within the $1 million to $2 million range.
Commissioner McGrady raised the issue of the Green River/Tuxedo Library, stating that the Board had in the budget four years ago about a half million set aside for the Library and/or Park facility. He asked Bill Snyder’s view on that. Bill Snyder stated that it is not the Library’s highest priority. It is on their radar. The issue they face in that community is lack of a good plan. Bill Snyder said they simply do not know which way the community wants to go there. When you look at the usage of the library it’s not growing like the other libraries are. Bill Snyder stated that if the citizens of that area can come together and come up with a good plan, a good definition for the Library Board as to what they want in a library, the Library Board would be in a better position to move forward. He stated until they have that, it is something they know they need to do but it certainly isn’t their highest priority.
Chairman Moyer said that covers the items on the capital projects list previously but he opened it up for other projects.
Firing Range/Shooting Range
Chairman Moyer stated
there had been some discussion of a firing/shooting range at the
Chairman Moyer said this project could be submitted under the Federal Stimulus Package. Heath Shuler’s office has met with Commissioner Messer on one occasion and has talked with some of the parties. Apparently there is going to be some money ear-marked in this Federal Stimulus Package clearly for law enforcement.
Commissioner Williams stated that ultimately the state is going to do what the state is going to do and we are left to pick up the pieces. If we can’t move forward by February which is an unrealistic timeframe, from all indicators he has heard, the State is going to press forward and will build the outdoor range and then we’ll be put in a position to where we either find the money to enclose it or it remains an outdoor range. He feels that we’ve been “painted into a corner.” We weren’t asked much on the front side, plans were made and then we were told this is going to happen. There has been very little that any of us have been able to do about it for close to a year now. Commissioner Williams agrees with the approach that is being taken right now and the efforts that are being made to try to get some of our neighboring counties involved and look at moving forward with changing things around to make it more safe for the community, the safety factor and the noise issue.
Chairman Moyer stated that where we’re headed is another special meeting with one of the issues being overall capital projects. He stated that the Sheriff needs to supply information on the detention center, evidence storage, and law enforcement center. He thinks the Board should talk with the school system and tell them we want a joint facilities meeting as quickly as possible to get that information so it’s ready for the special meeting. He asked the Board what additional projects they would like staff to take a look at, if any, before that meeting.
· Shooting/Firing range
· Recreation Facilities needs
· Bus Repair/Depot/Solid Waste/Recycling
at the sale of excess property: water dept., old health bldg., chamber
building, Sheriff office on
· Green River/Tuxedo Library/Park
· Courthouse overcrowding – Old health dept. building
Chairman Moyer stated that when we have that special meeting, we’re starting off with an assumption – no new capital projects requiring debt service in the coming year. That will be our starting point. If we adopt that and move forward, then we’re talking about starting in year #2 to take a look at how much debt service we’ve paid off and how much will be becoming available, take a look at these projects and see if we can match and have enough information on the projects and enough information on how much money will be available to see if we can come up with a schedule.
Chairman Moyer asked Carey McLelland to work up a refinancing plan before this special meeting. He thinks that we can free up some money by refinancing some of our debt at the current interest rates.
Chairman Moyer feels very strongly that we should prepare our budget this year using the departmental cost allocation method. Other Commissioners were in agreement. Commissioner Williams used the term Enterprise Accounting. If each county department is run like a small business, then you have to know the cost of running that business.
Chairman Moyer stated that we want to come up with a budget that is as transparent to the public and as understandable to the public as possible.
FY 2009-2010 EXPENDITURE ASSUMPTIONS
Chairman Moyer felt that
one of the very significant ones was that there would be Education operating
Chairman Moyer asked how do we move forward working with the School Board and the Blue Ridge Community College Board with that as one of our assumptions?
Commissioner Messer stated that we have a new State Governor and we have a $3 billion deficit sitting there. He said they’ve already cut the schools and now they’ve cut the colleges. Commissioner Messer said the information is already out there but we need to wait a while and leave this window open. We don’t know what the State is going to do, or the Federal Government. Regardless of what we plan, if the State didn’t plan that way and have put the burden back on us, then we’re in a mess. Who’s to say, in April that we won’t have to come up with another half million dollars for the schools or college, it’s very possible if we keep the same level of service at the schools and the Blue Ridge College as we have now.
Commissioner Young agreed but stated that we likely could not offset what the State would take away.
We already cut the county budget and county services this year by $1.5 million. We didn’t ask the School System or the College either one to cut their budgets that much. If they stay at the same level they are now, then they’ve really already got an increase in their budget.
Commissioner Williams stated that they haven’t gotten an increase. We’re talking here about the State putting pressure back on the counties. He doesn’t think that we need to be there trying to fill that void. If we keep the operational side about where it is, that is an advantage that the school has over where we’re going with local government in general. We are looking at about a $2 million reduction with county government with the schools staying at the same level. They essentially are getting a little bigger piece of that pie from the local level. He would be more open to funding some of the capital type expenses that they may have rather than adding to the operational side of things.
Commissioner McGrady felt we should tell the schools and the college that this is what we’re working from as the assumptions we’re making going forward and plan to put your budget together with the same set of assumptions that we’re making. If you have critical needs, whatever type, put together that list and communicate it. He can’t see us filling in what the State is cutting back on. “We’ve had teachers coming to us wanting additional supplement and I’m sitting here – we’re laying off people on the one hand and you’re asking us to put more money in a supplement, you’ve got to be crazy. How tone deaf are you?” I’m not going to go there. I’d just say to the schools, make the same assumption that we are making here.
The consensus of the Board was to allow some flexibility in the schools budget for maintenance issues rather than for operations. These sorts of things will come out during a Joint Facilities Meeting.
Chairman Moyer summarized that he be authorized to send a letter to both the Community College and the School System explaining the assumptions we are going on. “We will be anxious to receive your budget but these are the assumptions we’re looking at so far and we want you to identify your budget and these are the guidelines we’ve set up for us to look at so far.”
Chairman Moyer explained that we’ve improved our fund balance. There is a willingness to want to consider this but there is also some concern – we don’t want to become a bank sitting on monies. But it seems that everyone is interested in Carey and Steve coming up with some information as to where are the other counties, what is their fund balance, both percentage wise and dollar amount. The Board will then take a look at those figures and discuss our fund balance and policy.
talked briefly about using some of our fund balance for debt reduction. He
stated that the note on the
Fuel Costs – Chairman Moyer wasn’t sure that flat fuel costs was the right way to budget. He was not prepared to accept that assumption at this time.
CNG – Compressed Natural Gas
There was some
discussion that we need to move fast on locating a property and moving forward
with a CNG fuel station. The closest one is in Arden/Fletcher area.
Commissioner McGrady made the motion to adjourn the meeting, at 1:55 p.m. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Elizabeth W. Corn, Clerk to the Board William L. Moyer, Chairman