STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
COUNTY OF HENDERSON
MARCH 8, 1999
The Henderson County Board of Commissioners met with the Fletcher Town Council for a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. in the Fletcher Town Hall.
Those present were:
Henderson County: Chairman Grady Hawkins, Vice Chairman Bill Moyer, Commissioner Renee Kumor, Commissioner Don Ward, and Commissioner Marilyn Gordon. Staff present were County Manager, David E. Nicholson, Assistant County Manager Angela Beeker, Staff Attorney, Jennifer Jackson, County Engineer Gary Tweed.
Town of Fletcher: Mayor Robert Parrish, Councilman Milton Byrd, Councilman Bill Moore, and Councilman Charlie Messer. Staff present were Town Manager Craig Honeycutt, Town Clerk Jan Sherlock, and contracted engineer, Denny Martin.
Henderson County: Clerk to the Board, Elizabeth W. Corn, County Attorney, Don H. Elkins.
Town of Fletcher: Councilman Eddie Henderson.
CALL TO ORDER/WELCOME
Mayor Robert Parrish called the meeting to order and welcomed all in attendance. He stated that this would be an informal session with no public input. He felt that this meeting was a positive step.
DISCUSSION OF THE POSSIBLE CREATION OF A CANE CREEK WATER AND SEWER DISTRICT ADVISORY BOARD
Chairman Hawkins stated that he and Mayor Parrish had developed the agenda for today=s meeting. They had discussed the idea of making an advisory board to these bodies that looked at a series of issues confronting both in the sewer area. They had discussed any grant monies which might be available, and whether application should be made by the County, the Cane Creek Water and Sewer District (CCWSD), or Fletcher. They had also discussed a variety of other issues.
Chairman Hawkins felt that an advisory board could look at these issues in more detail within a particular time frame, keeping grant application deadlines in mind. He felt that the advisory board could be made up of representatives from Fletcher, from the County, and random residents of the Cane Creek Water and Sewer District. He felt that it would then be a good idea to approach the Metropolitan Sewer District(MSD) with the thought of getting representation on the MSD Board, or to ask them how MSD could be involved with the CCWSD, the County and the Town. He felt that it could have a synergistic effect for borrowing money, receiving grant money, etc., if there is a long range plan. He was looking at having a regional relationship for water and sewer - they go together. Those were his initial thoughts concerning the advisory board. They should be given a charter stating how, when, who to apply for grant money, what portion of the plan of Fletcher to apply for first - phases and timing.
Councilman Moore stated that the engineering would have to be complete to apply.
Chairman Hawkins agreed, stating that Fletcher was therefore in a good position to apply. The Boards need to decide how to get the most points in the application process by applying as the County, Fletcher, or jointly. He felt that there were also a variety of broader issues to look at:
- Owning and/or operation of a package treatment plant?
- Utilization of the Bent Creek site?
- Expand CCWSD to the Mills River?
- Parallel pipes down the French Broad River?
Mayor Parrish agreed that this summarized Chairman Hawkins and his prior discussions.
Chairman Hawkins stated that long range, he was looking at the formation of a true authority. This could be built from this committee.
Mayor Parrish felt that the formation of an advisory committee would be a good start.
Councilman Moore felt that a set of guidelines is needed for the advisory board, and he wondered who the advisory board would work with?
Mayor Parrish stated that it would be a CCWSD advisory board, and would cover all of CCWSD.
Chairman Hawkins stated that he didn=t see the advisory board as serving a Countywide role - only for the North end of the County.
Commissioner Kumor stated that the Board feels that they can work with the Town of Fletcher very well. This would demonstrate good faith in their working with Fletcher, which could set a tone to show that Henderson County is willing to work as a partner.
Chairman Hawkins stated that one area to study would be to conduct a rate study. He felt that once a position on the MSD Board was in place, we would have some input in their rate structure, and could possibly get the rate structure stabilized in the County.
Commissioner Kumor felt that the list of issues for study as presented on the agenda was comprehensive and that she could not think of anything else to add. The agenda is attached to and made a part of these minutes.
Vice-Chairman Moyer questioned whether it was realistic to get an advisory board in place by the end of March, in time for the grant deadline?
Mayor Parrish felt that the Boards could proceed ahead with applying for the grant, and in the meantime, form the advisory board. It would take time to get such a board in place.
Councilman Byrd asked if the professional resources sitting in the room could speak regarding the advantages and disadvantages of an advisory board. He personally felt that it was a win-win approach; however he wanted to get staff input.
Commissioner Ward spoke regarding the rate study. He felt it would impact annexation. This is one of the first things the advisory board would need to look at. More customers would have a major impact on a rate study.
Chairman Hawkins stated that the line down U.S. 25 has left the station. The only decision remaining is who should apply for the grant money? The advisory board would go beyond this. The deadline for the grant money is the end of March.
Councilman Byrd again inquired as to the advantages and disadvantages of the advisory board?
Chairman Hawkins replied that he doesn=t know as far as the grant goes whether points would be given for having an advisory board. Long term, an advisory board is beneficial.
Mayor Parrish stated that the Town is going to follow the direction of their professionals.
Engineer Denny Martin stated that the grant and the advisory board have no connection. An advisory board is an investment in future sewer services in the North end of the County, and to get cooperation of these two bodies. Regarding the grant application, he needs information on consumption in CCWSD which Jim Erwin is gathering for him. In his opinion, it looks like CCWSD is going to have to be the applicant because median household income for the applicant is used as the criteria. It makes a difference in the cost.
County Manager, David Nicholson, stated that a lot of issues are on the table. He felt that everyone should first understand the difference between an Advisory Board and an Administrative Board. The CCWSD must stay in place until all of the debt is paid off. The CCWSD currently owes approximately $1.3 Million. At that point, the CCWSD could be changed. Or alternatively, the advisory board could be given the opportunity to consider, whether another organization should be created to pay off the debt? Mr. Nicholson stated that there are several outstanding issues to consider:
- Buncombe County is looking at applying for grant money to take the interceptor to south Buncombe County. This would fill up the interceptor lines. Does it make sense to form a sanitary district to cover the whole area?
- Bent Creek - The idea was to swap it or work with MSD to build a plant to serve CCWSD and Buncombe County.
- Allocation issues - CCWSD has a lot of allocation now, 1.35 MGD. CCWSD is only using 350,000 GPD now; however, long term it should be looked at.
There are a number of other issues to look at-- growth plus long term issues associated with drainage basins. Sewer should follow drainage basins. An advisory board lets everyone come to the table and discuss the issues. The Board of Commissioners wants the Town of Fletcher=s input in this. Lines will produce growth.
Councilman Byrd asked whether it is possible to pay off debt, increase demand, and lower rate structure? Is it possible to do with all three balanced?
Commissioner Kumor stated that an advisory board could answer those questions.
Councilman Byrd stated that if these questions cannot be answered, then the formation of an advisory board needs to be justified to the public. These weaknesses would need to be discussed and brought into balance.
Mayor Parrish stated that the rates were raised in 1997 to try and address the deficit. The deficit should be gone by the end of this calendar year. He questioned whether at that time the rates could be looked at.
Mr. Nicholson stated that the Board of Commissioners will be looking at rates at budget time. He stated that there is a difference between deficit and debt. Deficit is what the County has been working on. This is one of the issues for the advisory board to study. It will bring Fletcher to the table so Fletcher can gain a clear understanding of the rates.
Mayor Parrish stated that the advisory board could look at a rate study, and for Fletcher, hopefully reduce the rates.
Town Manager, Craig Honeycutt, stated that at the Council=s regularly scheduled meeting this evening, the Council will approve a contract for Martin McGill to complete the grant application. They are looking at doing the engineering for all three proposed projects: Westfeldt/Hudson, U.S. 25, and Cane Creek Industrial Park. They will have Preliminary Engineering Reports done for all by the end of March. They are estimating that construction of all three projects will cost $1.5 Million. The Town would like to get with the Board of Commissioners when they know who will apply. This is an important first step. Prior boards have asked for this. The advisory board is just advisory. Later if the structure is changed, the advisory board would be a part of this.
Chairman Hawkins stated that he would like to get the advisory board to look at a service district. Maybe the system could be expanded this way so that it would become a self-supporting system.
Mayor Parrish agreed that the District needs more customers.
Chairman Hawkins stated that MSD is an important piece of the puzzle because we need to stabilize rates.
Councilman Byrd asked whether an authority could mandate sewer connections for safety reasons, e.g. where the ground does not perk?
Chairman Hawkins stated that the County is currently looking at mandatory connections for subdivisions based on distance from public sewer. It could probably be done here as well.
Commissioner Ward stated that a service district could be formed similar to a fire district. A tax is set by the authority or the Board of Commissioners, or the District. The tax would be set at budget time.
Mayor Parrish stated that he felt this could work in Mills River. They are in dire need. Mayor Parrish asked whether Chairman Hawkins would like to pose the question regarding pursuit of an advisory board for the CCWSD to the Board of Commissioners.
Chairman Hawkins questioned whether the Board of Commissioners was in favor of this proposal-- what was the consensus of the Board? He stated that the makeup of the advisory board could be discussed later by the Mayor and himself.
All Commissioners nodded their heads in agreement. Chairman Hawkins stated that the consensus of this Board was to pursue the formation of an advisory board.
Mayor Parrish asked the Town Council if their consensus was to pursue this as well? All stated yes.
Commissioner Ward questioned whether this would be a five member board?
Mayor Parrish stated that it could have five or seven members.
Councilman Byrd felt that it should be looked at from a regional standpoint.
Commissioner Ward felt that an authority would like to have an advisory board as well, so this could be a two-fold board.
Chairman Hawkins questioned whether everyone would like for the Mayor and himself to get together regarding this? They could start with five.
Commissioner Kumor felt that we should start with five. It would be easier to add people later.
Commissioner Gordon questioned whether the Boards could go ahead and find members?
Chairman Hawkins stated that may make their jobs easier. The advisory board could have a County Commissioner, a representative from Fletcher, and from the eventual service district.
Councilman Byrd questioned whether we could not start with two representatives from each board and add a member at large from the surrounding region? The existing boards have a huge knowledge base, and this advisory board would need a lot of background knowledge.
Chairman Hawkins stated that the advisory board would be relying on the Utilities Department, and Gary Tweed. Fletcher has Denny Martin.
Commissioner Ward felt that if there are two representatives from each board, this would be no different that the two boards sitting down together.
Commissioner Gordon stated that if we went with 2-2, the advisory board could be seven members.
Councilman Byrd felt that sometimes it is helpful to have two representatives sitting at the table so they could discuss things with each other.
Chairman Hawkins felt that staff helps too.
Councilman Byrd agreed.
Chairman Hawkins felt that we could start with five. If we need to, go to seven.
Mayor Parrish stated that Chairman Hawkins and himself could discuss this among themselves first to arrive at an advisory board that would represent everyone. They would then bring it back to both boards.
Councilman Moore stated that he didn=t believe anyone cared whether the advisory board had five or seven members.
Chairman Hawkins stated that the Mayor and himself would get together, find some names, bring it back, and get suggestions from both boards.
Mayor Parrish stated that they would like to come to the County next.
Chairman Hawkins stated that after the advisory board is formed, the County and Fletcher could get back together to give the charge to the advisory board.
Councilman Byrd questioned whether the charge should be formed at this time?
Mayor Parrish referred to the agenda, and stated that this was the charge.
Councilman Moore stated that the Town welcomes this idea. This is a start. They have wanted to work with the County. There is a great need out there, and we can work together on this.
Councilman Messer stated that his main concern was the rates.
Councilman Moore stated that rates are a big part, but others are concerned with needing sewer.
Commissioner Gordon stated that she appreciated the Town=s attendance at the Board of Commissioners work session regarding sewer. She felt that this is a good place to start, and that the agenda contains a good list. She would put the rate study right at the top. She stated that the Board of Commissioners had discussed the rate structure issue at their work session.
The meeting was adjourned at 6:13 p.m.
Elizabeth W. Corn, Clerk Grady Hawkins, Chairman