STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
COUNTY OF HENDERSON MARCH 4, 2003
The Henderson County Board of Commissioners met for a continuation of the March 3, 2003 regularly scheduled meeting at 7:00 p.m. in the Commissioners= Conference Room of the Henderson County Office Building at 100 North King Street, Hendersonville, North Carolina.
Those present were: Chairman Grady Hawkins, Vice-Chairman Larry Young, Commissioner Bill Moyer, Commissioner Charlie Messer, Commissioner Shannon Baldwin, County Manager David E. Nicholson, County Attorney Angela S. Beeker, Deputy Clerk to the Board Amy Brantley, Budget and Management Director Selena D. Coffey and Public Information Officer Chris Coulson.
CALL TO ORDER/WELCOME
Chairman Hawkins called the meeting to order and welcomed those in attendance. The purpose of this meeting was the continuation of the March 3, 2003 regularly scheduled meeting.
FY 2003-2004 BUDGET GOALS
Chairman Hawkins stated that at a previous meeting the Board had discussed various parameters for the upcoming budget process. Staff had presented a budget schedule calendar, which called for discussion of goals for the Sheriff=s Department budget at this meeting. The goals noted by the Board to support the Mission Statement of the Sheriff=s Department and augment the Mission Statement of the Board of Commissioners were:
C Lower the crime rate
C Lower the unsolved crime rate
C Lower auto accident rate in the department
Commissioner Young stated that the Board should look at car expense versus other counties. He noted that expense was not only the difference between leasing and buying, but included the expense per mile of having a car on the road. Commissioner Moyer noted that in the past year, staff had done a lot of work to devise a new car leasing policy. He felt the work on that should be reviewed with the newest commissioners. There followed much discussion on the vehicle situation for law enforcement vehicles and other departments. Commissioner Young commented again that he felt the cost per mile to operate county vehicles was a very important piece of the budget.
Commissioner Baldwin stated that it was important to establish a link between the departments and the Commissioner=s Mission Statement. He felt the departments could help the Board achieve those things in the Mission Statement, such as the Sheriff=s Department helping Ato protect life and property.@ He also felt it important that the Sheriff=s Department keep up with techniques, equipment and training.
UPDATE ON PENDING ISSUES
1. Cable Ad Hoc Advisory Committee
At a previous LGCCA meeting, the Cable Ad Hoc Advisory Committee had asked the municipalities and county whether it was their pleasure to have that Committee, on a pro bono basis, represent them in early negotiations with Mediacom. A draft contract had been provided to the Board for their consideration.
David Nicholson informed the Board that in an effort to understand the roles of the County, the cities and the committee in the negotiation process, he had sent a note to the city managers inquiring about the possibility of working together. Every one of the city managers replied back that they had no interest in working on this project.
Following some additional discussion, it was the consensus of the Board to wait on the results of the contracted audit, and then decide whether the county should begin the process. Because the contract does not expire for several years, there is no rush to begin the negotiation process. Chairman Hawkins stated that he would take that decision back to the LGCCA.
2. Water Advisory Board
Chairman Hawkins reminded the Board that at a previous meeting, they had been in favor of having the Mud Creek Sewer Advisory Board double as the Water Planning Board. He also noted that in accordance with the Mud Creek agreement, the appointment of the chairman for that Board this year would come from the County. Chairman Hawkins requested that this information be placed on the agenda for the next meeting.
Commissioner Moyer stated that since he negotiated the agreement, he would be willing to serve as the Commissioner representative on the Board. Chairman Hawkins thanked him, stating that he felt this was an area where there could be a real impact made on planning where water and sewer will run within the county.
Commissioner Baldwin questioned the relationship between the Comprehensive County Plan (CCP) and the Water and Sewer Advisory Board. Mr. Nicholson answered that when the data was collected for use in the CCP planning process, the Water and Sewer Advisory Board decided to take a step back and wait to see what procedures they would need to put in place due to the Comprehensive Plan.
3. State Prison
At a previous meeting, the Board requested Mr. Nicholson do some research on the issue of the proposed state prison for Western North Carolina. The facility to be constructed would be a >close-custody= facility, and would be the third prison planned out of four. The McDowell County Facility is the one that is closest to our area. According to the Department of Correction, the facility would cost $75 million dollars and employ 400-410 employees. The base salary is $27,000 for a correctional officer. The State had requested that the county contribute 150 acres of land with public water and sewer near a major highway.
Mr. Nicholson discussed the existing prisons currently in Western North Carolina. The Mountain View Correctional Institute is a product of a joint effort between Avery and Mitchell Counties. The second facility, called the Avery/Mitchell Correctional Institute, was also a joint effort between those counties. The Marion Correctional Institution is a close-security facility that was constructed on 125 acres purchased by the McDowell County Board of Commissioners for $150,000.
Several counties across Western North Carolina have expressed some level of interest in the facility. The majority of the interest has come from the counties of Haywood, Transylvania, Rutherford and another joint effort by Mitchell and Avery. Mr. Nicholson discussed the various pros and cons he had heard from the managers of counties considering the prison, as well as his own feelings regarding the positives and negatives. It was his opinion that at this point, there seems to be little to no interest in Henderson County for the facility.
It was the consensus of the Board that the project would be monitored for further development, but that the cost of land for this project in Henderson County is probably prohibitive.
4. Mission Statement
The Mission Statement was adopted by the Board on January 10, 2003. There had been some discussion on the most effective way in which to present that Mission Statement. One option was to have the statement read like a sentence, while the other option was to have the various point highlighted with a bullet format. It was the consensus of the Board to have it presented as a statement in the sentence format.
5. Early Action Compact
David Nicholson reminded the Board that the Compact was a joint effort between the counties of Buncombe, Madison, Transylvania and Henderson to defer the designation of non-attainment status by the EPA. It is being looked at due to the possible expansion of the U.S. Census Bureau=s Metropolitan Statistical Area into Henderson County. Buncombe County is the lead organization on this effort, and is doing most of the research. They requested that by Monday, March 10, Henderson County provide a list of things we are currently doing or things we have done in the past to reduce emissions. In the following list are examples of things Henderson County has done to reduce emissions:
1. The Landfill Methane Gas Program
2. The Apple County Transportation System
3. The use of non-sulpha fuels in our vehicles
In either April or May, they will need a list of things that counties would be willing to do. It had been decided to deal with this on a county by county basis because of the wide variety of different situations between counties. He noted that the EPA encourages citizen involvement in creating the list. The Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) had already been charged with looking at air quality, and is very interested in working with Mr. Nicholson on that list.
Commissioner Baldwin questioned whether the EAC had held any public hearings or done anything to increase community input. Mr. Nicholson stated that he had encouraged the EAC to have at least a public input session as part of that. Commissioner Moyer stated that we might want to talk to ECO, because they have already had some sessions. Mr. Nicholson noted that the County would be happy to include that type of information in the report.
6. Tax Assessor Position
Commissioner Moyer stated that he felt the Board should begin to explore the merger of the Tax Collector=s Office and Tax Assessor=s Office. He noted that Henderson County is one out of only two or three counties in the state that still has two separate departments. He felt that before the Board even thinks of hiring a new Assessor, the best and most efficient organizational structure for the County should be determined.
Chairman Hawkins reminded the Board that about three years ago, Selena Coffey had prepared a study on the matter. He agreed this would be a good time to revisit that issue. There was some discussion on the transition of taking the Tax Collector from an elected office to a merged office. Because of the way the Tax Collector position evolved in Henderson County, the Tax Collector takes office in October following the year in which he is elected.
The Board questioned how such arrangements usually work. Ms. Coffey answered that there are many different arrangements, though the majority of counties have a Tax Administrator, and then have a Tax Assessor and a Tax Collector as Division heads. Ms. Coffey stated that she would update her previous study, and bring that information back to the Board.
Angela Beeker informed the Board that she had checked on the expiration date of the franchise with Mediacom. The contract they have with the county expires in July, 2006. That means Mediacom can provide the three year out notice in July, 2003. That means that the Board does have several months, but not years to revisit that item.
There being no further business to come before the Board, Chairman Hawkins made the motion to adjourn the meeting at approximately 8:05 p.m. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Amy R. Brantley, Deputy Clerk to the Board
Grady Hawkins, Chairman