STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
COUNTY OF HENDERSON SEPTEMBER 17, 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, and Clerk to the Board Elizabeth W. Corn.
Also present were: Assistant County Attorney Russell Burrell, Planning Director Karen C. Smith, Budget and Management Director Selena Coffey, Finance Director J. Carey McLelland, Fire Marshal/Emergency Management Coordinator Rocky Hyder, Public Information Officer Chris S. Coulson, Paralegal Connie Rayfield, EMS Director Terry Layne, and Risk Management Director Bill Byrnes. Deputy Clerk to the Board Amy Brantley was present through nominations.
Absent was: County Attorney Angela S. Beeker who was on maternity leave.
CALL TO ORDER/WELCOME
Chairman Hawkins called the meeting to order and welcomed all in attendance.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Commissioner Messer led the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag.
David Nicholson gave the invocation.
DISCUSSION/ADJUSTMENT OF AGENDA
Chairman Hawkins made the motion to accept the agenda as presented. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Chairman Hawkins made the motion to accept 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 Board review and approval of the following meeting(s):
August 20, 2003, regular meeting
Tax Collector’s Report
Terry F. Lyda, Henderson County Tax Collector, had provided the Tax Collector’s report dated September 12, 2003 for the Board’s information.
A list of 17 tax release requests was presented by the County Assessor for approval by the Board of Commissioners. There were no tax refund requests for this period.
Petitions for addition to State Road system
Staff had received road petitions for addition to the State Maintenance System for the following roads:
1. Pioneer Mountain Road
2. Larry McDonald Memorial Drive
It has been the practice of this Board to accept road petitions and forward them to NC Department of Transportation for their review. It has also been the practice of the Board not to ask NCDOT to change the priority for roads on the paving priority list.
Ambulance Franchise – Medical Emergency Ambulance Transport, Inc.
Submitted for the Board’s approval was the draft franchise being granted to Medical Emergency Ambulance Transport, Inc. The franchise agreement was presented and approved at the last regular Board of Commissioners’ meeting. It must also pass a second reading (today) in order to be effective. The Board was requested to again approve the franchise agreement.
Library Parking Lot Lease
Staff had provided a lease with the First Nazarene Church for the parking lot used by the Main Branch of the Public Library. Our current lease expires this month. Mr. Nicholson had spoken with Phil Hyder who is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Church. They are willing to continue the lease for $10,000 a year.
Mr. Nicholson recommended that the Board approve the lease renewal. Funds are included within the budget to pay the lease.
Etowah Horse-Shoe Fire & Rescue Lease Purchase Agreement
Etowah Horse-Shoe Fire and Rescue is planning to build a sub-station in the Big Willow area and purchase a heavy rescue truck for the main station. The department will finance approximately $500,000 for the heavy rescue unit and construction of the sub-station through United Financial at a 4.19% interest rate for eight years with an annual payment of $76,314.
The apparatus purchase and construction project were discussed with the Fire & Rescue Advisory Committee during the budget process. Fire & Rescue Advisory Committee members agreed with the proposal due to the present and future need for services in this area and a recommendation for the sub-station from the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
Etowah Horse-Shoe respectfully requested the Chairman sign the prepared letter to United Financial. Staff recommended the Board approve the issuance of the letter.
Notification of Vacancies
The Board was notified of the following vacancies which will appear for nominations on the next agenda:
1. Community Child Protection Team – 6 vac.
2. Downtown Hendersonville Inc. – 2 vac.
Chairman Hawkins reminded the Board of the following vacancies and opened the floor to nominations:
1. Juvenile Crime Prevention Council – 4 vac.
There were no nominations at this time so this item was rolled to the next meeting.
2. Nursing/Adult Care Home Community Advisory Committee – 4 vac.
Chairman Hawkins nominated Nancy Mitchell to position # 6 and Lois Hoots to position # 21. There were no further nominations. Chairman Hawkins made the motion to accept these two nominees by acclamation. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
3. Senior Volunteer Services Advisory Council – 1 vac.
There were no nominations at this time so this item was rolled to the next meeting.
4. SmartStart – 1 vac.
There were no nominations at this time so this item was rolled to the next meeting.
HUMAN SERVICES BUILDING – Feasibility Study
Mr. Nicholson reminded the Board they approved an agreement with Calloway, Johnson, Moore & West to prepare a feasibility study for the Human Services Building. The study covered the following items:
1. Demolition of the CAT Building.
2. Site Options
3. Design Options
4. Preliminary Cost Estimates
Mr. Alan McGuinn of the firm was present and reviewed the findings with the Board. Mr. McGuinn explained that the intent of the study was to explore the feasibility of constructing 80,000 square feet of new economical office space and associated parking on a seven acre site the county owns at 1220 Spartanburg Highway. The Board had received a copy of the feasibility study earlier for review. The study offered three building options. Option “B” was the most economical, utilizing a pre-engineered metal building and using utility brick and a synthetic stucco at a cost of $80 per square foot. All options included future expansion space. The time frame for the entire project was 22 months with the total cost being $8,205,964, including a 10% contingency.
Mr. Nicholson informed the Board that should they be satisfied with the results of this feasibility study, they should direct staff to begin the formal process of the selection of an architectural firm to begin the design of this facility. It is a very formal, very long process. Staff felt that option “B” best suited our needs.
Commissioner Moyer felt that we were tackling this project backwards, stating we should be asking DSS and the Health Department what kind of space needs they have and then design the building to fit their needs. He also reminded the Board that the Board of Health wished to revisit the BRCC site. He felt that they made a good case to revisit the BRCC site. The majority of the Board was in agreement to hire an architect and begin the process. Discussion continued. Chairman Hawkins felt that the Board had sufficiently considered the BRCC site and rejected it.
Commissioner Baldwin made the motion that the Board direct the County Manager to prepare the RFPs (Request for Proposals) so we can begin the process to select an architect to go through the programming we need to go through to accommodate the Health Department and the Department of Social Services using the three options presented and bring that information back to the Board. A vote was taken and the motion passed four to one with Commissioner Moyer voting nay.
APPLICATION FOR AMBULANCE FRANCHISE – Mission-St. Joseph’s Health Systems, Inc.
Terry Layne informed the Board that an application had been submitted by Mission-St. Joseph’s Health Systems, Inc. for the provision of non-emergency ambulance transport services.
Pursuant to Section 87-4(C), the applicant must be given an opportunity to be heard by the Board of Commissioners on the application. This is also the Board’s opportunity to ask the applicant any questions concerning the application and proposed services to be offered by the applicant.
Staff was seeking an indication from the Board as to whether it was the Board’s intent to approve a franchise to the applicant for services as requested as well as any direction from the Board on any special provisions desired in the franchise. Staff would then draft a franchise ordinance consistent with the Board’s instructions.
To be effective, an ordinance granting a franchise must be approved at two regular meetings of the Board of Commissioners. Therefore, if directed by the Board, an ordinance granting a franchise to the applicant will be placed on the Board’s agenda for approval at the October 6, 2003 and October 15, 2003 regular meetings.
Emergency Medical Services Director, Terry Layne, is responsible for administering the Ambulance Ordinance. He informed the Board that Regional Transport is currently handling about 400 calls per year, many of which are heart patients. They have specialized equipment to handle these cardiac patients. Mr. Tom Cowan is the Director of Regional Transport and was present to answer any questions.
The question was raised as to whether we should have a public hearing on this issue. Russell Burrell felt the Board should hold a public hearing. The County Manager was asked to add this to Important Dates for the Board to set a public hearing date.
Representatives from our Assessor’s, Collector’s, and IT offices recently visited Wake County to view the software developed by a company called IIS. The ownership of this software by the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners is similar to that of the Central Permitting System that we recently purchased. Stan Duncan, County Assessor, had submitted a report detailing their review of this software.
Mr. Duncan thanked the Board for the opportunity to serve Henderson County and he praised the staff of the Assessor’s office as well as staff of other departments in Henderson County Government. The tax bills are just about ready to be put in the mail on September 19. They will be dated September 22. Tax payers have 30 days to appeal from the date of the bill.
Mr. Duncan reminded the Board of his two primary functions:
#1. He must provide a program for the listing, appraisal and assessment of all taxable property, real and personal, in a fair and equitable manner to the citizens of this county.
#2. He must provide to various entities, this Board being one of them, a fair and accurate reporting of information from that assessment data.
He suggested that we need to address those two primary functions, fair and accurate program and accurate reporting. In particular the reporting side is causing problems. Because of the conversion that took place last year from a fairly stable database to the current database, the current software system is not quite as stable. Reports being generated from that database are not reasonable reports. He informed the Board that software is available that has been in place since 1999. We would be one of the first western counties in the state to use the system. To implement the new software and meet the necessary deadlines will require a great deal of effort on the part of the Assessor’s office staff, the Collector’s office staff, and the I.T. department staff.
Mr. Nicholson recommended to the Board that we replace our Tax Billing and Collection Software, asking that the Board appropriate $280,964 from fund balance so this project can get going to meet the necessary deadlines.
Commissioner Moyer asked that our staff look at liability regarding the KeyStone software.
Chairman Hawkins made the motion to direct the County Manager to make a fund balance appropriation as indicated with two stipulations: #1. Be sure to talk with the Sheriff regarding Crime View. If that is an integral part of his program, then to appropriate that additional amount to make the balance, and #2. The County Manager and County Attorney pursue whatever legal recourse we may have on KeyStone for not delivering on their product. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
INFORMAL PUBLIC COMMENTS
1. Dick Baird – Mr. Baird stated that Fields 1 and 2 at Jackson Park are still in the same dangerous situation that they were 90 days ago. He stated that it looked as if one gallon of paint had been used to paint the press box, on the street side. Evidently they ran out at the end of the gallon because the side against the field has not been painted. He stated that these things bother him. If we can’t handle this small stuff during the high use part of the season when kids are at risk on those ballfields how will we do the big projects.
He stated that he was gratified that the Board was getting on with the top level strategic planning. He told the Board that it was time to get started on budgeting for next year. The Board should be giving the guidance that the Finance Officer and Budget Officer will use to develop next year’s budget. He spoke about “should cost” and “will cost” budgeting, stating that we use the “will cost” budgeting method where the operator tells you what it will cost for you to get what you want. He implored the Board to go to an independent “should cost” analysis. He mentioned some capital cost needs looming in the near future.
He stated that several months ago the Board looked at combining the Assessor’s office and the Tax Collector’s Office. He asked what had happened. He felt the combining would save from 7 – 10 positions which is $300,000 to $500,000 savings a year. He asked the Board to resurrect that issue.
UPDATE ON MENTAL HEALTH REFORM PROJECT
The purpose of this item was to update the Board on the Mental Health Reform Project. Mr. Nicholson discussed the following with the Board:
1. Quarterly Report (Selected Sections)
a. Critical needs
b. Continuous Quality Improvement Plan
c. Provider Network – Survey Results
2. September 4, 2003 Memo
3. Transylvania County Letter
4. LME Membership
Mr. Nicholson stated that trying to expand the emergency and crisis stabilization program, whether it be for children, adolescence or adults, continues to be a real concern of theirs as they try to work with the state to get that continuum of services provided. They are talking about developing a mobile crisis response system across the whole region. They are also talking about a crisis stabilization facility. The Broughton Hospital beds are going away. They have been trying to create a 16 bed centralized facility to deal with that loss. They are trying to make sure that the services are understood and provided to the Latino community. They are also trying to figure the best way to make the public understand what is happening and how we will deal with the change in how services will be provided. Mr. Nicholson explained that there are many committees that have to be established as part of the checks and balances of this. Surveys were mailed out to 162 residents of Henderson County, 61 responses were received back. For Henderson County there are 175 possible vendors/providers.
Mr. Nicholson is frustrated with the project as they are still waiting on the State to provide information. Governance is still being discussed. Maybe as early as the Board’s next meeting he will be requesting that the Board appoint a Commissioner to serve on the Local Management Entity (LME) Board. He encouraged the Board to consider that. It will take some time and work to get this up and operating.
UPDATE ON PENDING ISSUES
Urban Transportation Program
Mr. Nicholson has been meeting with representatives from WCCA (Apple Country Transportation) to discuss changes in the funding mechanism for our public transportation program. Since Henderson County has now been designated by the US Census as being within the Asheville Area Metropolitan Statistical Area, we will have to apply directly to the US Federal Transit Administration. We will have to go through the process to become a certified provider by the FTA. We can contract the service out. The process will take about six months. Roughly 2/3 of our public transportation services are within the metropolitan statistical area. He will have to make a trip to Atlanta to meet with the FTA. Someone from the State will be there, Mr. Nicholson, our Finance Director and whoever will handle the bookkeeping as well as someone from our Legal Department.
501(c)(3) – Historic Courthouse
Mr. Nicholson had met with the leadership of the Historic Courthouse Committee and the Assistant County Attorney on September 15 to discuss the Committee’s proposal to create a not-for-profit organization to manage the facility. It was the consensus of the Board to approve the charter, to appoint Spence Campbell, Tom Orr, and George Jones, to work with David Nicholson as the Steering Committee, and to leave it up to the committee to choose any other members they may wish to assist them. In 30 – 60 days staff will come back to the Board with some alternatives.
Shop Henderson County
Chairman Hawkins reminded everyone that the Chamber of Commerce is making a concentrated effort to encourage shopping in Henderson County. It is estimated that we lose about $2.5 million in sales tax by shopping outside our county. He emphasized that county government and other county organizations also make a lot of purchases within the county; Pardee Hospital, the Board of Education, the five municipalities. He expressed that he hoped the municipalities and county government would be encouraged to make as many local purchases as they can with the idea that the sales tax comes back to a number of functions in the county from schools to municipalities and law enforcement, etc.
David Nicholson referenced the memo that Angela Beeker had sent to the Commissioners before she went on maternity leave. She had notified the Commissioners that in her meetings with Maggie Blythe from Mediacom to talk about adding a second government/education channel, Mediacom wished to open up the entire franchise. The Board will have a big role to play in the franchise negotiations. There was discussion about reactivating John Crook and the Ad Hoc Advisory Committee. At some point the Board of Commissioners and the municipalities will have to consider whether or not they will renew Mediacom’s franchise.
Chairman Hawkins informed everyone that on October 12 there will be a four hour seminar at BonClarken of various aspects of Cable and other services.
It was the consensus of the Board to reactivate the Ad Hoc Advisory Committee and to request staff to begin work to draft a charter for that Committee.
Chairman Hawkins informed the Board that at the LGCCA meeting this week, they took a final look at the Water and Sewer Advisory Committee and he will pass that information along to the Board as soon as he gets it. He asked that the Board consider approval of that at their next meeting.
The calendar was reviewed briefly. Chairman Hawkins announced that October 22 will be the TIP meeting with NC DOT at Southwestern Community College in Sylva. Mr. Nicholson will continue to try to work with acquiring a facilitator for a fall retreat for the Board.
Chairman Hawkins made the motion to set the public hearing on the Ambulance Franchise for Medical Emergency Ambulance Transport, Inc. for October 6 at 7:00 p.m. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
DISCUSSION ITEMS – none
CANE CREEK WATER & SEWER DISTRICT – no business
CLOSED SESSION – none
There being no further business to come before the Board, Chairman Hawkins made the motion to adjourn the meeting at 11:04 a.m. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Elizabeth W. Corn, Clerk to the Board Grady Hawkins, Chairman