STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
COUNTY OF HENDERSON FEBRUARY 19, 2003
The Henderson County Board of Commissioners met for a regularly scheduled meeting at 9:00 a.m. in the Commissioners' Conference Room of the Henderson County Office Building.
Those present were: Chairman Grady Hawkins, Vice-Chairman Larry Young, Commissioner Bill Moyer, Commissioner Charlie Messer, Commissioner Shannon Baldwin, County Manager David E. Nicholson, Asst. County Attorney Russell Burrell, and Clerk to the Board Elizabeth W. Corn.
Also present were: Planning Director Karen C. Smith, Budget and Management Director Selena Coffey, Fire Marshal/Emergency Management Coordinator Rocky Hyder, Public Information Officer Chris S. Coulson, Environmental Planner Nippy Page, and Deputy Clerk to the Board/Volunteer Coordinator Amy Brantley.
Absent was County Attorney Angela S. Beeker.
CALL TO ORDER/WELCOME
Chairman Hawkins called the meeting to order and welcomed all in attendance.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Commissioner Moyer led those in attendance in the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag.
Jerry Senn, Hendersonville Church of Christ, gave the invocation.
Chairman Hawkins announced that we had a student present observing our meeting today, Samantha Childers from North Henderson, who was doing her internship. At our next meeting, March 3, the whole class is scheduled to be at the meeting.
Chairman Hawkins also announced that Angela Beeker would not be present today. Russ Burrell, Asst. County Attorney was present for any legal assistance.
DISCUSSION/ADJUSTMENT OF AGENDA
Commissioner Moyer asked for the following addition(s) to the agenda:
BRCC land and Human Service Building - Discussion Item AE@
Commissioner Messer asked for the following addition(s) to the agenda:
Maximum Security Prison - Discussion Item AF@
Chairman Hawkins made the motion to approve the agenda as revised. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Chairman Hawkins made the motion to approve the Consent Agenda as presented. All voted in favor and the motion carried. The CONSENT AGENDA consisted of the following:
Draft minutes were presented for the Board=s review and approval of the following meetings:
January 15, 2003, regular meeting
February 3, 2003, regular meeting
Tax Collector=s Report
Terry F. Lyda, Tax Collector, had provided the Board with the Tax Collector=s Report dated February 18, 2003.
Deputy Tax Collector=s Report
Darlene B. Burgess, Deputy Tax Collector, had provided the Board with the Deputy Tax Collector=s Report dated February 11, 2003.
Apple Country Greenway=s Annual Report
The Apple Country Greenway Commission had submitted their Annual Report for 2002 for the Board=s review. No action was necessary. It was for information only.
Sheriff=s Department - Sidearm Request
Sheriff George H. Erwin, Jr. requested that the Board authorize the sale of a service firearm to Deputy Mary Harwood Poole (Becky). In 1994, the Board approved a Service Sidearm Policy. According to the policy, the Board must establish a purchase price for the weapon. The Sheriff had indicated that the value of the sidearm is $420. Should the Board approve this request, Deputy Poole would be responsible to pay for the weapon less the discount provided by the Policy.
The County Manager recommended the Board authorize the sale of this sidearm based on the adopted policy.
Tax Release Requests (57)
A list of 57 tax release requests was submitted for Board approval.
Tax Refund Requests (20)
A list of 20 tax refund requests was submitted for Board approval.
Request for Improvement Guarantee for Taylor Forest Subdivision
LAM Investments, Inc., Developer
Luther E. Smith, agent for LAM Investments, Inc., had submitted an application for an improvement guarantee for road improvements in a subdivision known as Taylor Forest. Taylor Forest will be located off of Gilreath Loop Road in the Mills River area. The Planning Board granted approval of the Master Plan and conditional approval of the Development Plan for the project on January 21, 2003. The improvement guarantee is proposed to cover the cost of grading, drainage, seeding, placement of stone and paving of the first 1,000-linear foot section of a 1,367-linear foot road serving the subdivision.
Pursuant to Section 170-38 of the Henderson County Code, a developer may, in lieu of completing all of the required improvements prior to Final Plat approval, post a performance guarantee to secure the County=s interest in seeing that satisfactory construction of incomplete improvements occurs. One type of permitted guarantee is an irrevocable letter of credit. The developer intends to secure a letter of credit from Mountain Federal Credit Union in the amount of $48,399.00, which includes the cost of the road improvements to be guaranteed ($38,720.00) as well as the required 25% contingency of $9,680.00. The proposed completion date for the improvements is August 31, 2003.
A draft Performance Guarantee Agreement was submitted for the Board=s consideration. If the improvement guarantee application is approved, the developer must submit a letter of credit in accordance with the terms of the Agreement. The County Attorney must review the letter of credit and certify the Agreement as to form prior to its execution by the Chairman and the developer.
Cable Audit Contract
A proposed contract was submitted for Board review with John Howell of Telecommunications Consulting Associates to audit Mediacom (our Cable TV provider). Both the franchise fee paid to the County and compliance with the franchise will be audited. This idea was discussed with the Board at the February 3 meeting and is the first step in the process of negotiation of their franchise.
The County Manager recommended that the Board approve this contract. We will use funds generated from the Franchise Fees to pay for this contract.
The Board had entered into agreement with Tax Assessor Eddie Mitchum to end his employment with Henderson County. The agreement was effective February 13 meaning his last day with Henderson County was February 12, 2003 which is approximately five months in advance of the expiration of his term of appointment as the Henderson County Assessor. A copy of the agreement is attached as a part of these minutes.
Notification of Vacancies
The Board was notified of the following vacancies which will appear for nominations on the next agenda:
1. Solid Waste Advisory Committee - 4 vac.
Chairman Hawkins reminded the Board of the following vacancies and opened the floor to nominations:
1. Nursing/Adult Care Home Community Advisory Committee - 9 vac.
There were no nominations at this time so this item was rolled to the next meeting.
2. Fire and Rescue Advisory Committee - 1 vac.
The Fire and Rescue Advisory Committee had nominated Bill Stepp as their representative, position #4. Chairman Hawkins made the motion to accept Mr. Stepp by acclamation. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
3. Juvenile Crime Prevention Council - 1 vac.
Commissioner Messer nominated Maria White. Chairman Hawkins made the motion to accept Ms. White by acclamation. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
4. Historic Courthouse Committee - 4 vac.
Amy Brantley reminded the Board that several positions were filled at the last meeting but the Board still needs representatives from Travel & Tourism, Chamber of Commerce, Historic Preservation Committee and the Downtown Beautification Committee. Travel & Tourism submitted Tom Young=s name. Chamber of Commerce submitted Spence Campbell (appointed at the last meeting but not to a specific position) and Vanessa Mintz. Historic Preservation Commission submitted Judy Abrell. Downtown Beautification Committee submitted Jim Kastetter.
Commissioner Moyer had nominated Spence Campbell at the last meeting. He suggested that Mr. Campbell represent the public and put Vanessa Mintz into the Chamber position.
Commissioner Moyer nominated Tom Orr as a public representative.
Commissioner Young nominated Melissa Maurer to represent the Downtown Beautification Commission, Merchant=s Association and the School System. He also nominated Theron Maybin as a citizen representative from the farming community.
Chairman Hawkins made the motion to accept all the above nominations to the Historic Courthouse Committee. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
5. Henderson County Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee
Jack Lynch and Tedd Pearce were both nominated for Chairman at the last meeting. The Clerk was asked to poll the Board and the outcome was as follows:
Commissioner Moyer Tedd Pearce
Commissioner Messer Tedd Pearce
Chairman Hawkins Jack Lynch
Commissioner Young Jack Lynch
Commissioner Baldwin Jack Lynch Jack Lynch is the new Chairman.
6. Agriculture Advisory Board - 2 vac.
Chairman Hawkins nominated Kenny Barnwell and Theron Maybin for reappointment. Commissioner Baldwin nominated R.D. Hodges. A vote will be taken at the next meeting.
Commissioner Moyer indicated that if it was the Board=s pleasure he would serve as ex-officio, non-voting member to this Board.
7. Board of Equalization and Review - 2 vac.
Chairman Hawkins nominated Babs Kuykendall and Bill Farrell for reappointment. Chairman Hawkins made the motion to accept both nominees by acclamation. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
8. Recreation Advisory Board - 2 vac.
Commissioner Messer nominated James Schweitzer and Virgil McClure. Chairman Hawkins nominated Don Ward. A vote will be taken at the next meeting.
9. Henderson County Planning Board - 1 vac.
Commissioner Baldwin nominated Rick Merrill. Chairman Hawkins nominated Cindy Dabaibeh. A vote will be taken at the next meeting.
PRESENTATION OF EMS SYSTEM CERTIFICATE
During 2002, Henderson County had to complete and submit documentation to the State Office of Emergency Medical Services to re-certify our EMS. We recently were informed that the Henderson County Emergency Medical Service had received its certification. This has brought all the Emergency Services together; Rescue Squad, Fire Departments, First Responder Programs, Blue Ridge Community College.
Mr. Jim Morris (Regional Coordinator), North Carolina Office of Emergency Medical Services, was at the meeting and presented the certificate from the State of North Carolina to Terry Layne, our EMS Director. Henderson County is now a County EMS System. Mr. Layne thanked his staff for their hard work in this process. They spent a lot of time and effort on this. Jennifer Jackson assisted Mr. Layne legally. Dr. Crit Harley, Medical Director, and the Quality Management Committee also assisted very much in this process.
David Nicholson thanked Terry Layne and his staff as well as the Quality Management Team. They did a wonderful job putting this together.
STRATEGY FOR COMPLETING MAJOR PLANNING INITIATIVES
During the retreat last month, the Board asked Staff to develop a strategy for completing the County Comprehensive Plan (CCP) and to present the strategy to the Board on February 19, 2003. The Board was interested in adding a community participation process to the development of the Plan and it also wanted staff to incorporate previous small area plans (such as the Mills River/Fletcher Area Study) and future studies as proposed in the 1999 Countywide Land Use Regulation Guide.
Also during the retreat, the Board discussed the status of the Zoning Ordinance Rewrite project and the steps required to adopt zoning text and map amendments. Staff agreed to meet with Commissioners Young and Baldwin to orient them to the project and the Board decided it would set a workshop to discuss outstanding issues. Because the Zoning Ordinance Rewrite (including related zoning map amendments) is also a major planning project, Staff had developed a recommended timeframe for completing it given the strategy for finishing the CCP.
In developing its plan to accomplish the CCP and the Zoning Ordinance Rewrite projects, Staff consulted with Geoffrey Willett of the North Carolina Department of Commerce, Division of Community Assistance.
Mr. Willett made some introductory comments to the Board prior to Staff presenting its recommendations. Mr. Willett stated APlanning is thinking carefully, one step at a time@. He reminded the Board that they have a staff that wants to do the best job for this county and he has confidence that they can do it. Much of this work will be enhanced by GIS. Some outside resources will be needed. He is conservative on staff, feeling staff needs to be lean, particularly in government but in this period coming up we don=t have the in-house resources to fully cover this project. He supports staff=s recommendation regarding resources and agrees with it. The proposal stretches into 2004 and the Board was hoping to finish this by the end of 2003. He felt that if the Board looked at all the pieces of the project they would understand why it stretches into 2004.
Karen Smith, Planning Director, reviewed the charts with the Board which were the County Comprehensive Plan (CCP) Revised Project Schedule as well as the major planning initiative timeline. The Project has been broken into six phases:
1) Review/update existing drafts:
Henderson County in Perspective
Assessment of Factors Influencing Growth
2) Update Advisory Committee (2/12/03 mtg.)
3) Update Planning Board (2/18/03 mtg.)
II. Focus Area Determination
a) Determine focus areas for community based planning
2) Input from Advisory Committee
3) Input from Planning Board
4) Update Commissioners
III. Community Based Planning
1) Development and distribution of community survey
2) Structure and organize community meetings
3) Hold community meetings
4) Assimilate community input from meetings and survey
5) Report community input/survey information
6) Update Advisory Committee
7) Update Planning Board
8) Update Commissioners
IV. Element Development
1) Continue preparation and update of element drafts
2) Incorporation of community input into element drafts
3) Input from Advisory Committee
4) Input from Planning Board
5) Update Commissioners
22. Development of Implementation Strategy
1) Development of growth management strategy
2) Development of implementation strategy:
Prioritization of small area planning efforts
Final analysis of element recommendations
3) Draft CCP to Advisory Committee
4) Draft CCP to Planning Board
5) Present draft CCP to Commissioners
6) Publicize draft CCP
1) Adoption of 2020 Comprehensive County Plan
2) Development of small area plans
3) Begin implementation of CCP recommendations
According to the plan, staff would not take on any new small area studies until the plan is completed. The Advisory Committee and the Planning Board have both seen the Plan and are supportive of it. The Planning Board would like for their role to be defined and would like to be sure that there will be sufficient resources provided.
The Zoning Ordinance Rewrite is another big planning project that has been going on. Staff tried to figure out how to make that work with this completion of the CCP. Staff proposed that the Zoning Ordinance Rewrite be tabled until CCP completion. Prior to that, staff needs some direction from the Board so they can complete the Zoning Ordinance Rewrite Clean-up. Ms. Smith recommended a workshop for the Board to work with staff through some of the main issues of the Rewrite. Staff proposed to bring that back to the Board in April. Although the Zoning Ordinance Rewrite would be on hold people would still be able to come in with rezoning applications so while staff work would not be concentrating on drafting new text they would still be accepting applications for changes in zoning under the current zoning ordinance. Staff resources will be needed to complete those studies as needed.
There was some brief discussion of whether or not a moratorium would be needed on permits or on rezoning. Staff had not proposed any type of a moratorium. Mr. Nicholson felt there should be no hold-up on routine rezoning requests.
There was discussion of how the Mills River study would affect this time line. Karen Smith stated that the Mills River study has already been done. Implementation of that study not yet begun. She questioned whether the Board would want to implement that study and its recommendations based on the current zoning ordinance or if they would want to wait for the New Zoning Ordinance Rewrite. The Mills River study did not encompass all the area proposed for incorporation but it did have some recommendations for future land uses.
There seemed to continue to be questions about small study areas. Mr. Nicholson explained that if a study could not wait, then staff would need to rework the time line. Much discussion followed.
David Nicholson stated that Henderson County has invested about $25,000 in this project the last couple of years. Mr. Nicholson, Mr. Willett and planning staff recommended to hire someone whose full-time job is to focus on this project. He proposed hiring a Planner III. He=s looking for someone with a planning background but experience as a project manager ($11,300 for the remainder of this fiscal year). He also suggested putting $2,000 toward the survey design and development about May of this year. He estimated the need for $50,000 about July of this year for community based planning expenses (included postage and mailing processing, supplies, expenses associated with survey tabulation and reporting of data, overtime, etc.). $10,000 has been planned for community group facilitation about August of this year.
Mr. Nicholson also reviewed the planned expenses for 2004:
$10,000 Element consulting assistance
$10,000 Printing expenses (included printing of draft and final documents)
Mr. Nicholson stated that the process of revisiting the time line and reworking the process has energized staff.
It was the consensus of the Board to get staff to add the Mills River Study and #25 North Study to the time line, rework it and bring it back to the Board along with a firm cost so the Board can take action to approve the proposal. The Mills River Study has been done but the implementation has not yet been done. US #25 North area needs studies because of the widening of the road in that area. There was some discussion of US #64 East and Upward Road but it was decided that the Mills River and the #25 North areas were more important at this time. Everyone realized that during the time line (next 18 months) there will be other day to day business to take care of in the planning department (business as usual). There was some discussion of a moratorium on zoning or on permits but it was decided that it was not an appropriate tool to use at this time.
Staff was directed to bring this item back to the Board at the next meeting, March 3, 2003.
INFORMAL PUBLIC COMMENTS
1. David White - Mr. White (WCCA) stated that Western Carolina Community Action operates Apple Country Transportation. Over the last 20 years WCCA has worked with the county to provide services that are valued by county residents. WCCA has also worked closely with NC DOT=s public transportation division which administers community transportation programs like Apple Country. He is hearing that some doors are closing and one of those is the rural operating assistance program and administrative funds through the section 53-11 program for rural transportation systems as well as the rural public transportation funds that are being used to fund the current public transportation routes. We have 800 people a week riding on our public transportation routes currently.
At the same time he hears that other doors are opening; i.e. increased federal funding that will be coming through the MPO which could help replace some of the doors that are closing and allow for additional services. In order for these doors to open fully and do the most for Henderson County, he recommended that we need to participate fully in an M.P.O. By fully participating in the M.P.O. Henderson County will have the opportunity to strengthen Apple Country. If the county does not participate in the M.P.O. he believes it would weaken Apple Country and allow folks in other municipalities and other counties to make decisions about what kind of community transportation program Henderson County has.
2. Dick Baird - Mr. Baird had been asked by the management of WHKP to make it clear that when he speaks before the Board he is speaking as Dick Baird, a private citizen, not as a member of the WHKP staff. He is not an employee of WHKP. He is an analyst and commentator but he receives no compensation.
He briefly mentioned the State Prison issue. He stated that the Dept. of Corrections is going to build a prison facility of 1,000 beds in Western North Carolina. A number of counties are being considered for that facility, Henderson County included. It will create 410 employment opportunities, half or so would be local. He felt that this issue needs to be discussed and public input received. The State is expecting the county to come up with 150 acres of prime flat prison suitable land. He mentioned that the old Agfa plant is vacant, Transylvania County has an unemployment rate of about 13%.
He discussed budget guidance. He stated that the first thing that should have been on the budget schedule was Board direction to the Budget Director.
Philosophically he feels that the Board needs to get on with the County=s business, don=t shift it back to the citizens.
Courthouse Committee - He feels the Board should step up and make that decision
Gun Ordinance - He feels that the Board should make some changes to the proposed
ordinance and get on with it.
Farmland Assessment - Farmers are very unhappy with the way they were treated.
He stated that he had never understood why governments don=t have Master Plans - It could be a simple document that gives a general philosophy of where the entity wants to go, how they want to get there, etc.
Comprehensive County Plan - the Board has put off what was progressing nicely last fall.
Comments from Commissioners
Commissioner Moyer stated that the State Prison was an add-on to this agenda and will be discussed but one of the provisions the State has put on the property is that it has to have access to at least one major highway. (This is the reason the State has rejected the idea of using the old Agfa property).
Commissioner Messer also informed Mr. Baird that the Gun Ordinance was also scheduled to be discussed later during this meeting.
Chairman Hawkins called a brief technical break to change videotapes.
3. P.M. Anderson - Mr. Anderson stated that he would like to obtain official confirmation that revenue neutral principles will be applied this year following the recent assessment of real property.
4. Bette Taylor - Ms. Taylor discussed animal control, stating that two Pit Bulls and a pup were running loose in her neighborhood. She lives in the Stonecrest area off Highway #25. She has had to fence her property for her own protection, 12,000 sq. ft. She suggested a leash law or perhaps imposing a higher fee of insurance for those who have dogs running loose.
PUBLIC HEARING - Road Names
Chairman Hawkins made the motion for the Board to go into public hearing. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Rocky Hyder requested the Board approve the following list of road names (renaming):
Old Name Proposed Name
Pisgah Pride Lane Willow Valley Farm Way
Holly Knoll Circle Holly Hill Dr North
Unnamed Road Racing Lane
Pheasant Ridge Drive Old Logging Trail
There was none.
Chairman Hawkins made the motion for the Board to go out of public hearing. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Chairman Hawkins made the motion that the Board accept the above names as submitted. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
PUBLIC HEARING on Property Address Changes
Chairman Hawkins made the motion for the Board to go into public hearing. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Rocky Hyder stated that pursuant to NCGS 153A-239.1, the Board of Commissioners established a public hearing for the purpose of approving property address number changes in Henderson County. The record of changes had been filed with the Clerk to the Board. This is usually done on an annual basis. Approximately 1,400 changes have been effected since last February. He requested the Board to formally approve those property address changes.
There was none.
Chairman Hawkins made the motion for the Board to go out of public hearing. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Chairman Hawkins made the motion that the Board accept the changes as presented. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
UPDATE ON NATIONAL FLOOD INSURANCE PROGRAM
Rocky Hyder reminded the Board that during the Board=s retreat last month, Staff reported that it was beginning to reexamine the issue of whether the County should participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Henderson County is one of three counties in North Carolina that do not participate in the program.
Staff had prepared a slide presentation that provided some basic information about flooding and the NFIP. The presentation reviewed reasons why it is time to discuss NFIP again and outlined some of the requirements for participating in the NFIP.
The power point presentation was designed to provide the groundwork for future discussions of this issue by the Board.
The County Manager stated that it had been several years since Henderson County had considered participation in the National Flood Insurance Program. Due to legislation which was passed during last year=s General Assembly Session that could effect our ability to receive Federal and State assistance during and following disasters, we will have to strongly consider the adoption of this program. It will take several months to complete the necessary work to apply for inclusion in the program and develop the required ordinance which will include building standards.
The Board was requested to hear the presentation and consider authorizing staff to develop the necessary elements for participation within the National Flood Insurance Program. Mr. Nicholson explained that as staff begins this effort our goal will be to first protect life and property through the ordinance.
Mr. Hyder explained that the NFIP was developed in the 1960's as a result of efforts from communities that had a lot of land area within the floodplain. Private insurance carriers would not insure those properties because flooding is such a common occurrence as a disaster. Therefore the Federal Government decided to step in and subsidize an insurance program so that those communities that had a large land area in the floodplain would be able to develop those areas so that their tax base would be substantial enough to support their operations.
Senate Bill 300 was passed last year which amended GS 166-A which is the General Statute that effects disaster relief funding in North Carolina. The amendment tied any type of State or Federal disaster assistance that the county may be eligible for to participation in the National Flood Insurance Program.
Mr. Hyder stated that there had been rapid growth in the county including development in the floodplains. Since 1982 we have had about 439 structures actually built in the floodplain. We have also had Land Use and other Studies that have recommended some type of method to manage the floodplain. The State of North Carolina has undergone a statewide floodplain mapping effort which began in August of 2000. They have projected that they will map our area in 2005; however, that particular project is unfunded at this time.
There are three basic components to participate in the NFIP:
1. Update 1982 FIRM maps (flood maps)
remap floodplain showing encroachment
2. Adopt floodplain management regulations
3. Provide enforcement
There are about 200 miles of river that we would be responsible for in Henderson County. It has been estimated that it could cost $340,000 to map Henderson County=s floodplains. We are one of only three counties that do not participate in the program.
FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) establishes what the minimum standards are in regard to managing the floodplain:
No construction or filling is permitted in the floodway.
Construction is permitted in the flood fringe if it is elevated above the BFE. Fill is permitted in the flood fringe if hydraulic engineering studies are conducted.
FEMA sets the minimum standard but they are actually regulated by a local ordinance.
Develop some standard for lowest floor elevation
County could apply stricter standards than NFIP, based on public safety
Do not allow development (1-2% of the property in the county)
No development or fill in the floodplain (including flood fringe)
Benefits of participation
C Make flood insurance available
C Make Federal and State disaster assistance available
C Adjacent Property owners may be protected from effects of improper fill activities
C Prevent floodplain encroachment, which would
Protect public health and safety
Protect environmentally sensitive areas
If we do not participate?
The following services are unavailable for property located in the floodplain:
Federal and State assistance
grants and loans (for buildings)
disaster assistance and
Cost of joining program
Engineering studies showing encroachment
Additional staff for:
Mr. Hyder explained that participating in the NFIP would probably forever change what happens in our floodplains. Depending on our level of participation, we would either decrease or increase the loss of life and property within the floodplain area. Our level of participation would also determine how we manage some of the more sensitive, natural areas in the county, while protecting our water quality. Floods are the most common disaster in the United States.
Discussion followed. The Board is in favor of proceeding with trying to get in the NFIP. The Board asked David to check and see if the State will allow us to use the 1982 floodplain maps initially.
Chairman Hawkins called a short break, stating the meeting would be called back to order at approximately 12:35.
ANIMAL SERVICES ORDINANCE
Tom Bridges reminded the Board that on November 4, 2002, the Board of Public Health presented the Board a new proposed Animal Services Ordinance. At the Board=s retreat, they requested a formal presentation be made to the Board at this meeting on this proposed ordinance and its alternatives.
David Chapman, Chairman of the Board of Public Health could not be present but Tom Bridges, Public Health Director was. The Henderson County Board of Health appointed an Animal Control Committee with the following members: Dr. David Chapman, Chairman; Dr. John Bell, Physician; Dr. William Martin, Veterinarian; Commissioner Marilyn Gordon; Tom Bridges, Robert Smith, Brenda Miller; and Russ Burrell, resource staff. The Animal Control Committee met about a year and a half on this matter. In studying the issues, they reviewed ordinances from other North Carolina counties to see how North Carolina animal control laws fit. They reviewed ordinancess from Halifax County, Forsythe County, Durham County, Chatham County, Wilson County and the 1998 Animal Control Ordinance revision that was previously proposed by the Henderson County Board of Health which was never acted on by the Board of County Commissioners. They also contracted with John Mays, Executive Director of the National Animal Control Association and he reviewed our Animal Control Program and prepared a report which was given to the Board of Commissioners in November 2001. He provided some proposals as far as operations, efficiencies, or issues that he felt were important to be addressed. He made some recommendations. His report states the ideal. Mr. Bridges stated that they began to try to implement what they could within the current budget. They have written policies and procedures already. No public hearings have been held yet.
Mr. Bridges stated that this report is available on the web site for the Health Department. The Animal Control Committee and the Board of Health limited the scope of the proposal due to the following reasons:
Cost perspective - the Ordinance proposed by the Board of Health was rewritten from the perspective of current activities while recommending citations or civil penalties for enforcing State and County laws and providing additional revenue base to cover some of the cost for the program. (The Board of Commissioners actually set the fees)
Currently animal control services are operated through the Henderson County Health Department and have been for quite a few years. He suggested that it might be better to have another department over Animal Control.
The proposal may not adequately address municipal county issues regarding animal control services and how budgeting would be determined. It was the opinion of the Board of Health that this issue needs to be dealt with more directly by the Board of Commissioners and the municipalities. Overall the Board of Health is a representative body of the community and was split over the optional ordinances that are in part 3 of this report i.e. county-wide leash law, licensure of all dogs.
A workshop was recommended so the Animal Control Committee and the Board of Commissioners could meet and review items in detail.
Mr. Bridges stated that it was the opinion of the Board of Health that counties often make the mistake to design and build an animal control shelter that in the long run is less efficient and becomes more costly to build or maintain. The Board of Health recommended that a consultant credentialed and experienced in plan design of an animal control shelter with the goal of establishing an appropriate setting and shelter design that would enable a doubling or tripling of animal adoptions, if it=s properly placed and sited and built in a way to attract people to adopt animals. They would also like to promote more animal control education opportunities to educate people about spay and neuter, rabies shots, neglect, abuse as well as microchipping.
The Board was agreeable with having a workshop on this issue. Chairman Hawkins asked the County Manager to get some of the discussions lined up with municipalities and others on this issue.
FY 2003-2004 BUDGET ISSUES
Chairman Hawkins stated that he would like to see the Board develop some kind of statement on ARevenue Neutral@ and work on setting some goals for the three large fund users: Sheriff=s Department, Board of Education, and Department of Social Services. He felt the Board should give the County Manager some guidance on what they feel Capital Projects should be for the year and whether or not the Board anticipates additional school construction in this budget year. The Board should offer some guidance on Article 44 tax and on fund balance for the year. Chairman Hawkins reminded the County Manager that the Board is awaiting a County Vehicle Policy on the utilization of our county fleet.
Mr. Nicholson mentioned that the Board had asked for some prebudget workshops, working on goals for the largest departments. He had distributed information from the four largest departments from last year=s budget for the Board=s review. Those departments were: Sheriff=s Department, Board of Education, Department of Social Services, and Public Health Department.
During discussion at the last Board meeting concerning the upcoming budget, the Board asked staff to schedule pre-budget meetings with the Board of Education, Department of Social Services, Department of Public Health, and the Sheriff. The purpose of these meetings is to discuss their goals for the coming fiscal year. Staff had updated a budget calendar that included these workshops. Staff also provided information from some of the previous budget presentations which included goals and outcomes.
The Board may discuss setting some of those prebudget workshops under AImportant Dates@ at this meeting.
During discussions Chairman Hawkins gave some examples of goals the Board of Commissioners would be interested in - Board of Education: reduce drop-out rate, improve end of course test grades for minorities, demonstrate some educational quality improvement with class size.
Chairman Hawkins stated that it is important to realize in discussion of revenue neutral it is not necessarily what your total budget was last year, but the portion of the budget revenue that you can control, which is basically property tax. For Henderson County that is about $40 some million although we have a $77,000,000 budget.
Commissioner Moyer discussed the revenue neutral approach which means that when David looks at the tax rate of 50 cents and we get the revaluation numbers, we take the growth (using a formula) and work your way backwards. If the rate becomes 44 or 45 cents that sets the rate and is the starting point. If the Board sets the tax rate at higher than that rate then they need to be prepared to explain why to the public (increase for whatever project).
Commissioner Baldwin stressed that when you talk about revenue neutral you=re not really dealing with the same revenues because of growth. What you really have is revenue neutral plus growth which combines to give you your revenue level to start with.
Commissioner Messer expressed that along with the growth you have added expense.
Mills River Incorporation will affect our sales tax, whenever the incorporation happens. The County will lose close to one million dollars worth of revenue when Mills River incorporates. The Article 44 Sales Tax that goes into effect July 1, 2003 will bring in over a million dollars.
Commissioner Baldwin stressed the need for discussions with the various departments on the front end so the Board becomes a little more active in establishing parameters for the budget. He felt it important to know where the departments are going and what their needs are before attaching dollars to their programs.
Chairman Hawkins called a brief technical break, to change videotapes.
There was consensus of the Board to have some early dialogue with the larger departments, at least the three larger ones: Sheriff, Board of Ed., DSS, and have some mutual goal settings.
Discussion followed concerning capital projects the Commissioners wished the County Manager to include in next year=s budget:
Human Services Facility
Historic Courthouse (at least set aside a quarter million dollars this year)
Mr. Nicholson informed the Board that staff will present a Capital Improvement Plan as part of the budget this year. He mentioned EMS, the main station as well as the satellite station planned for Upward Road. Library branches have been on the table for several years now.
They also directed Mr. Nicholson not to appropriate fund balance. We are currently at the 10.5 cent range. LGC suggests a minimum of 8% fund balance. The Board discussed the Incorporation of Mills River.
David Nicholson suggested that we plan to take the monies from the sales tax and use them for one-time issues, maybe a one time capital project like the animal shelter. Or it may be needed to replace fund balance if Mills River doesn=t incorporate until July 2004.
Sales Tax Distribution
Within the units of local governments, county government can choose annually the distribution method for sales tax. The two options are by population and by Ad Valorem Tax Levy. Should the Board wish to change the method, we must notify the NC Department of Revenue by April. Mr. Nicholson had prepared a spreadsheet with information concerning the alternatives. There was also some discussion of the tax effect due to the possible incorporation of Mills River.
Mr. Nicholson reviewed briefly a couple of examples that had been prepared concerning the options for sales tax distribution. Partly because this is a reappraisal year, it was the consensus of the Board to wait until next year to think about going to ad valorem tax distribution.
Motor Vehicle Valuations
At a previous meeting, the Board discussed information on the effect of a possible change to the motor vehicle valuation. Currently, Henderson County uses the high value (decision was made by former Tax Assessors). The vast majority of North Carolina Counties use the standard valuation. Mr. Nicholson had prepared some information for the Board concerning the different options.
Following discussion, Chairman Hawkins made the motion to go to the standard rate from the high rate on motor vehicle valuation, effective July 2003. A vote was taken and the motion passed four to one with Commissioner Baldwin voting nay.
APPROVAL OF ORDER GRANTING A SPECIAL USE PERMIT FOR EXPANSION TO A PREEXISTING MINING AND EXTRACTION OPERATION FOR HOOPERS CREEK QUARRY
Chairman Hawkins reminded those present that Ms. Beeker was absent and she had prepared this order but he also made everyone aware that when the State permitted the extension to the quarry it changed the amount of area included. It was Ms. Beeker=s advice that the Board postpone this issue to an upcoming meeting to open up the hearing again and get the actual boundary size that the State has permitted and include that as part of the deliberatons.
No action was taken. This item was rolled.
ORDINANCE TO REGULATE FIRING OF WEAPONS
Chairman Hawkins also suggested that this item be rolled, partly due to the fact that Ms. Beeker was absent from the meeting. We will still have a public hearing. Commissioner Moyer felt that there were some major problems with the proposed ordinance and he felt that the Board needed to reconsider this issue.
Chairman Hawkins referenced some laws that are already on the books. The Board will reconsider this issue at a later date.
BLUE RIDGE COMMUNITY COLLEGE PROPERTY - add-on by Commissioner Moyer
Commissioner Moyer stated that he would like to get some more information for the Board on the piece of property in question. He and Commissioner Messer went out and looked at the property. Mr. Moyer felt that the Board should get an impartial person to do a site plan of what it would cost for site preparation and what type footprint of a building (80,000 sq. ft.) could be put on that site. The Board was in agreement to get more information on this piece of property.
STATE PRISON - add-on by Commissioner Messer
Commissioner Messer stated that it was brought to his attention in the last few days of some talk about locating a prison in either Henderson, Haywood, or Transylvania county. He would like to see this Board discuss the impact it would have on Henderson County, the pros and the cons.
Chairman Hawkins stated that to his knowledge the County had not been contacted yet by the Bureau of Prisons with an inquiry as to whether or not we want it in our county. The Commissioners had received a forwarded e-mail from Representative Justus that posed the question. Apparently they are looking for 100 - 150 acres of land to be donated for the site. Chairman Hawkins had asked Scott Hamilton of the Chamber of Commerce, our economic guru, to look around and there has been some search for that amount of land to fit the requirements they were asking for. They also requested that the land be close to a major road with sewer and gas. There are advantages to having that workforce for our citizens but there is no guarantee that the workforce would come out of our county.
Commissioner Young asked that Mr. Nicholson check with the County Manager in McDowell County because they have a prison that=s been in operation there for 10-15 years which is a 2,000 bed prison. Property in McDowell County is probably worth $15,000 an acre and its probably $50,000 an acre in Henderson County. It would be interesting though to know what the prison has done for McDowell County as far as revenue increased, jobs, etc.
Commissioner Moyer felt that the Board owed it to the citizens of the County to do a thorough investigation and list the pros and cons of locating a prison in our county.
Chairman Hawkins suggested that Scott Hamilton might be able to assist Mr. Nicholson with a presentation of the pros and cons and a result of some of the investigations that have been on-going.
MPO BOUNDARY EXPANSION
Mr. Nicholson informed the Board that there are two things that are happening with the MPO. The first one is on the boundaries of the MPO. The other is the memorandum of understanding. The Board will need to have some discussion over its involvement. We will be asked to join this MPO formally soon. At tomorrow=s MPO meeting they are going to consider the boundary that affects Henderson County. We=ve had a hands-off attitude in Henderson County about the issue of the MPO. Mr. Nicholson wanted to give the Board an opportunity, if they wished, to make any comments about the boundary lines that will be presented tomorrow to their policy board. Mr. Nicholson stated that he was at the meeting where the original boundary lines were drawn but did not participate in the discussion because he had no authority from the Board. The Hendersonville City Manager, Laurel Park Manager, and the Fletcher Town Manager all gave input to the process.
He showed the boundaries on a map. Mr. Nicholson stated that except for the National Forest, the far eastern part of our county and the far southern part would not be included in this boundary but the rest of the county would. The majority of the transportation issues associated with Henderson County are probably going to be in this MPO boundary. RPO will become a lesser issue for Henderson County because the majority of Henderson County is now in the MPO.
Following discussion, it was the consensus of the Board for Mr. Nicholson to relay that Henderson County would prefer to have the minimum area of our county in the MPO that is required by the MSA. This Board felt that we should do our own transportation planning.
Mr. Nicholson asked if the Board wished to have the prebudget meetings during regular meetings or to call a special meeting. It was decided to try to schedule them for regular meetings.
There was discussion concerning a workshop on the Animal Control Ord./Facility. Chairman Hawkins suggested a workshop be scheduled for Tuesday, March 4 at 7:00 p.m. No motion was made. Everyone just added this to their calendars.
Chairman Hawkins made the motion to reopen the public hearing on the Hoopers Creek Quarry for March 3, 2003 at 7:00 p.m. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
County Manager Announcement
Mr. Nicholson wanted to notify the community that Henderson County has been awarded $112,500 of CDBG funds for the Parkside Commons project at the old East Flat Rock Elementary School Property. This Community Development Block Grant will help with utility costs for the project.
There being no further business to come before the Board, Chairman Hawkins made the motion to adjourn the meeting at approximately 2:55 p.m. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Elizabeth W. Corn, Clerk to the Board
Grady Hawkins, Chairman