STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
COUNTY OF HENDERSON JUNE 20, 2002
The Henderson County Board of Commissioners met for a special called meeting at 2:00 p.m. in the Commissioners' Conference Room of the Henderson County Office Building.
Those present were: Chairman Bill Moyer, Vice-Chair Marilyn Gordon, Commissioner Grady Hawkins, Commissioner Don Ward, Commissioner Charlie Messer, County Manager David E. Nicholson, and Clerk to the Board Elizabeth W. Corn.
Also present were: Finance Director J. Carey McLelland, Assistant to the County Manager Selena Coffey, and Public Information Officer Chris S. Coulson.
CALL TO ORDER/WELCOME
Chairman Moyer called the meeting to order and welcomed all in attendance stating that the purpose of the meeting was a budget work session with the following departments to be discussed today:
Department of Social Services
General Fund Issues
Present for this discussion from the Sheriff=s Department were: Sheriff George Erwin, Captain Jimmy Edney, and Captain Rodney Raines.
Sheriff Erwin stated his disgust with the State Government for the current budget crisis. He has proposed the same budget as last year due to the budget crisis. The Sheriff=s Department has 300 employees and volunteers who are also taxpayers (total of 150 volunteers). Of course, the biggest part of this budget is personnel related. There was some discussion concerning service levels with the calls for service to the Sheriff=s Department increasing annually (approx. 15% increase this year).
Sheriff Erwin explained where his additional 3% reductions in expenses were proposed to be taken from: cut wearing apparel (uniforms) and ballistic vests by half saving $45,000
travel and training and education cut by $25,000
cut departmental supplies by $24,000
eliminate all capital outlay (replacement radios, shotguns, etc.)
reduce professional services by $10,000
for a total savings of $194,000.
There was some discussion of leased vs. purchased vehicles. The County Manager was requested to revisit the issue of leased vehicles and recommend to the Board whether it is still feasible to lease vehicles, starting with the vehicles coming off the lease program this year.
Detention Facility Budget (Jail)
Sheriff Erwin briefly reviewed the Detention Facility (Jail) Budget.
Discussion regarding operating costs for the Detention Facility followed with the County Manager being asked to update the figures for this item. He will work on those and distribute the new numbers to the Board.
There was some discussion concerning the pretrial program and the impact if it was discontinued.
Sheriff Erwin explained that it costs us about $47 a day to house an inmate. The Governor has eliminated the program entirely. The Senate=s proposed budget drops the funding down to 65% - 70% of the current year funding but does not eliminate the program entirely although it changes some of the things that we have been doing, not being authorized expenditures any longer. Mr. Nicholson explained that we are working on the assumption that on June 30 that program will end. If the State budget is adopted by then, we will have to go through a process of bringing the CJP Act Committee together to look at the money we have and look at the new rules and regulations and reapply for these funds. The CJPA Committee will have to make a recommendation to the Board of Commissioners concerning whether any portion of the pretrial program can be continued.
The current plan is to utilize the jail and make it last another 20 years or more. Sheriff Erwin explained that the jail was opened on September 7, 2001 so we haven=t occupied it a year yet.
In discussions Sheriff Erwin explained that we have a kitchen at the jail that can act as our disaster kitchen for the community. He and Rocky Hyder have been looking at how to start stocking food to have a supply in case of an emergency.
Criminal Justice Partnership(CJP)
There was some discussion of the Board possibly placing $20,000 in the CJP budget in case no monies are added to the account in the State budget. The State budget has no monies in that account now.
Department of Social Services (DSS)
DSS Director Liston Smith could not be at this meeting. Present for this discussion was Administrative Officer Peggy Gray, Assistant Finance Director Dena Garey, and Chairman of the DSS Board Bill Lapsley.
Mr. Lapsley has been on the DSS Board for six years, three years serving as Chairman.
Ms. Gray stated that they have asked for a 10.12% overall increase this year, much of it due to Medicaid costs. For staff operations there was only a 2.55% increase. The total Medicaid funds coming into Henderson County under the State Budget figure were approx. $75 to 80 million dollars. Of that the county=s local share was $3.3 million.
Mr. Nicholson explained that Medicaid is roughly about six cents on our tax rate. In some parts of the state it is as high as twenty cents.
The question was raised whether Henderson County should remain an Aelecting county@. Brief discussion followed regarding the Work First Program and the Aworking poor@. We may have pretty well exhausted the candidates that qualify for the Work First Program in our county.
Mr. Lapsley stated that the Board of Social Services voted today to request that the Committee for the Work First Plan get called back into action to start work on developing an analysis of how our Work First Plan has been doing the last few years. It is up for renewal at the end of this year. The Committee will be asked to make a recommendation to the DSS Board and the Board of Commissioners as to how to proceed with Work First in the future.
Ms. Gray explained that DSS cut two positions out up front, vacant positions. She explained that most of their travel and training budget is spent for travel with clients, some is mandated training for new employees.
Ms. Gray explained that their proposed 3% reduction in expenses is projected to come from:
Freeze hiring of HSC II Work First position - $34,870
Freeze hiring of OA IV Part-time BRCC Work First position - $14,471
Freeze hiring of IMS II - Adult Assistance position - $49,630
Reduce board member expenses - $3,000
Reduce departmental supplies - $5,000
Reduce telephone - $7,500
Reduce maintenance of building - $4,000
Reduce maintenance of equipment - $3,000
Reduce travel and staff development - $3,000
Reduce professional services - $2,000
Reduce legal services - $25,000
Reduce medical services - $5,000
Reduce contract services ($8,800 laptop + $48,000 PH nurse)
Reduce contract services - EBT - $5,000
Reduce medical supplies and equipment - $500
Reduce burial funds - $506
This would be a total savings of $219,277.00.
Ms. Gray touched briefly on the effect on DSS that some items in the Governor=s budget and some items in the proposed Senate=s budget would have, creating mandates that would come down to local government following the adoption of the State budget, items that would not have been budgeted for on the local level.
Chairman Lapsley stated that the DSS budget won=t be finalized when the county budget is adopted before July 1. When the state budget is adopted it is anticipated that it will have a major effect on the DSS budget about September or October.
David Nicholson reminded the Board that staff has been working on the proposed transition of our Emergency Youth Shelter to a Foster Care Home. They hope to have some beds still available for emergency care or emergency placement if those needs arise.
Chairman Moyer called a brief technical recess.
General Fund Budget
David Nicholson reviewed a number of items with the Board.
Mr. Nicholson provided for the Board=s review a list - AReduction Initiatives by Department, 3% Reductions in Overall Departmental Budgets, FY 02/03 Budget@ for a grand total of $1,585,017. He has not had adequate time yet to analyze these proposed reductions. Some he would probably propose for the budget while others he would not. He asked the Board to allow him time to review these in detail and he would give the Board some updated list by the first of the week with recommendations at that time.
Commissioner Ward was the one who asked for the 3% reductions and he stated that with the unforseen future with the State budget, he suggested eliminating DSS and Schools from the 3% reductions. Following some discussion, it was decided to leave the list as is, not eliminating anyone at this time.
Library Director Bill Snyder explained that the County Manager=s recommended budget is a hold the line budget and has been for the past three years. Anything less than the County Manager=s recommended budget will be a reduction in services. Library use has gone up 15% in the last two years with no increase in budget other than uncontrollable costs. Currently the library has five frozen positions.
Mr. Snyder=s proposed 3% reductions were as follows:
Vacant Maintenance Positions. To be made half time when filled
Projected savings in salary and benefits $16,042
Temporary Salaries. Will result in closing the main library on
Sundays. No other locations affected. $15,000
Library Materials $31,574
Total Reductions = $62,616
This reduction would not hurt them as much as the next one listed.
Mr. Snyder submitted a list of recommended reallocation of library hours should the County budget require a further reduction (emergency backup plan or full 9% reduction) resulting in a reduction in hours at the main library by 18 hours per week. Branch library hours would also be reduced, reductions ranging from 4 hours per week at the most active branches to 20 or more hours at the least active. The total reduction would be over 20% of currently available library hours.
The Library Board passed a motion as follows:
Motion by Stan Shelley - AI move that the Library Board endorse Mr. Synder=s general procedure in reference to possible budget reductions but that any reductions in excess of 5% of the proposed budget will have a negative impact on library services, such as children=s programs, after-school programs and access to libraries on weekends, that is not acceptable to this Board.@
There was some discussion regarding volunteers with Mr. Snyder stating that 9 - 10,000 hours per year are donated to the library by volunteers assisting Library personnel. The Friends of the Library have 8,000 volunteer hours that go into the Annual Book Sale every year which yields approx. $50,000 for Library Programs.
Jackson Park Bridge
Mr. Nicholson provided information to the Board regarding this issue.
Mr. Nicholson stated that in the State budget there is a proposal to take a one year funding of the ADM fund, which is 1% of the corporate income tax, and put it toward the State budget. Henderson County has been fairly conservative on how we approach the ADM fund. We are currently using it for debt service to Henderson County but we always use the previous year=s ADM funds. So if it gets passed it will affect the money we have for the following year and whether it would be for capital projects or for debt service to the tune of $430,000 to $440,000 in this fiscal year.
Soil & Water District
Soil & Water is proposing to start a program with a grant to assist people to remove abandoned orchards. They are looking for a match from the county of $15,000 for people who are below the median income level in our community and cannot afford to pay the match.
Mr. Nicholson mentioned that for the past couple years Soil & Water has received a Clean Water Management Trust Fund Grant but that has run out and they have now applied for an EPA grant.
Carey McLelland distributed newly updated fire district numbers for the Board=s review.
MCWSD - Mud Creek Water and Sewer District
Mr. Nicholson stated that when the Board gets to the Budget Ordinance they will notice that there are still some funds listed for Mud Creek. This was done before the Board eliminated Mud Creek Water and Sewer District. He will roll some of those expenditures into Cane Creek such as the 25 North Project. Mud Creek Water and Sewer District has been dissolved.
Commissioner Gordon made the motion for the Board to adjourn at 4:10 p.m. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Elizabeth W. Corn, Clerk to the Board William L. Moyer, Chairman