STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
COUNTY OF HENDERSON JUNE 10, 2003
The Henderson County Board of Commissioners met for a special called meeting at 7:00 p.m. in the Commissioners= Meeting Room of the Henderson County Office Building. This was a joint meeting with the Board of Public Education.
Those present were: Chairman Grady Hawkins, Vice-Chairman Larry Young, Commissioner Bill Moyer, Commissioner Charlie Messer, Commissioner Shannon Baldwin, County Manager David E. Nicholson, and Clerk to the Board Elizabeth W. Corn. Budget and Management Director Selena Coffey and Finance Director J. Carey McLelland were also present.
Also present were School Superintendent Dr. Tom Burnham and the following members of the Board of Education: Chairman Ervin Bazzle, Ken Butcher, Jane Orwoll, Melissa Maurer, Debbie Reemes, and Kristin Huntley. Absent from the School Board was Betsy Copolillo. Dr. David Sink was present from Blue Ridge Community College.
Absent was: Public Information Officer Chris S. Coulson.
CALL TO ORDER/WELCOME
Chairman Hawkins called the meeting to order and welcomed all in attendance. Chairman Hawkins stated that the purpose of the meeting was a FY 2003-2004 Budget Workshop to discuss education.
Chairman Hawkins reminded those present that in the County=s public education budget there are two facets, one dealing with Blue Ridge Community College and the second dealing with the Board of Public Education.
BLUE RIDGE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Commissioner Moyer asked Dr. Sink what effect it would have on BRCC if the County Manager=s recommended budget were adopted because it is $116,000 short of the submitted budget from BRCC. Their submitted budget had a 2.5% increase.
Dr. Sink stated that it would have an adverse affect on what they do. They might have to come back to the Board later in the budget year. Basically 10% of their budget comes from local government and 90% comes from Raleigh. At this time they do not know what is coming down from Raleigh. The local funding deals with their building and grounds and capital request. Those needs are driven by program needs and enrollment growth. In the last five years they have experienced an almost 50% enrollment increase. Utilities are increasing, some even doubling. Their budget request included an increase for utilities. There was no increase in personnel for the local request. Dean Bell stated that enrollment was up 11% in the past year and up 75% in the past 5 years. In the same time their operating budget had increased only 23%.
Commissioner Moyer felt that a 2.48% increase in the BRCC budget was not adequate. He made the motion to fund BRCC=s budget request.
Much discussion followed after which a vote was taken. The motion failed with Commissioners Moyer and Messer voting in favor.
Dr. Sink and Dean Bell left the meeting.
Chairman Hawkins reminded everyone that at the 11th hour of the budget proceedings by the State last year the State Legislature took $500,000 of Henderson County=s ADM monies. That was a real half million dollars that in a five year planning process this Board has been working on to use this money to finance almost $40 million worth of school projects. This was a big part of our funding stream for debt service. This year=s State budget is looking to cut our public schools budget by another $800,000. The County Manager has been working with the Board of Education to see where we can maximize and recoup some of those monies.
Commissioner Moyer reminded everyone that we had a very tough year last year and the Board asked the Board of Education to help us out and they gave back in excess of $500,000 to help the County=s budget.
Board of Education Chair Ervin Bazzle reminded everyone that their number one goal is the education of our children. There was a 20% increase in medical insurance this year. What was not funded directly impacts their capability of providing services to our kids. There was some discussion of whether or not the State will fund the planning allotments for K-2 levels. Mr. Bazzle then discussed capital expenses. He mentioned the Dana sewer problem. Dr. Frank Yeager is working with the Health Department on this issue. There are basically three options:
1. Buy additional property (adjoining/minimum of seven acres ) and extend the field line. This option is cost prohibitive plus the State requires now that you pre-treat before discharging into a septic field. So this option is off the table.
2. Package treatment plant.
3. Do new sewer line.
Options 2 and 3 are comparable in cost, about $420,000 to $500,000 for the project.
David Nicholson discussed school funding as listed in his memo to the Board of Commissioners dated June 9, 2003. Mr. Nicholson explained the loss of sales tax if/when Mills River incorporates.
Following much discussion, it was the consensus to continue to plan to lower class size and look at a new long-term plan for a source of revenue, possibly an increase in property tax. The current funding source is exhausted. Henderson County is making $5 million a year debt service payments for schools.
Following much more discussion, Commissioner Moyer made the motion to fund the current expense difference, $401,214 and to fund $400,000 of additional capital funding and to use these figures for guidelines for David to work forward with the budget. A vote was taken and the motion carried four to one with Commissioner Baldwin voting nay.
Mr. Nicholson stated he would put together for the Board a funding plan and have it ready for the Board for Thursday night=s meeting.
Chairman Hawkins made the motion to adjourn the meeting at 8:41 p.m. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Elizabeth W. Corn, Clerk to the Board Grady Hawkins, Chairman