STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
COUNTY OF HENDERSON JANUARY 21, 2004
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, County Attorney Angela S. Beeker, and Clerk to the Board Elizabeth W. Corn.
Also present were: Planning Director Karen C. Smith, Budget and Management Director Selena Coffey, Public Information Officer Chris S. Coulson, Fire Marshal Rocky Hyder, and Finance Director J. Carey McLelland. Clerk to the Board Amy Brantley was present through nominations.
CALL TO ORDER/WELCOME
Chairman Hawkins called the meeting to order and welcomed all in attendance.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Commissioner Moyer led the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag.
Rev. Peter Jones, Blue Ridge Bible Church, gave the invocation.
DISCUSSION/ADJUSTMENT OF AGENDA
There were none.
Chairman Hawkins made the motion to accept the agenda as presented. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
David Nicholson addressed item “H – Request for Public Hearing on new road names” asking for a correction and an addition. Under proposed names – delete “Deep Gap Loop Road Extention” and change the proposed name to “Pine River Road” and add one additional proposed name – “Cow House Road”.
Chairman Hawkins made the motion to approve the consent agenda as amended. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Draft minutes were presented for the Board’s review and approval of the following meeting(s):
November 19, 2003 regular meeting
Tax Collector’s Report
No Tax Collector’s Report was received.
Public Records Disposal Request
The Department of Budget and Finance requested approval from the Board of Commissioners to destroy some records as listed on the attached Public Records Disposal Request and Destruction Log in accordance with the County’s Records Retention Policy and the provisions of NCGS 121 and 132 as the period for retention of these records has expired.
The County Manager recommended Board approval.
Petition for addition to State Road system
Staff had received a road petition to add a road to the State Maintenance system:
1. Kinvara Lane
It has been the practice of this Board to accept road petitions and forward them to NC DOT 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.
Tax Release Request
A list of one (1) tax release request was submitted by the County Assessor with a request that the release should be denied. This release request was submitted to the Board for the approval of the Assessor’s denial.
Mrs. Beeker had also submitted her review and recommended denial.
A list of ninety (90) tax release requests was submitted by the County Assessor for approval by the Board of Commissioners.
A list of twenty-three (23) tax refund requests was submitted by the County Assessor for approval by the Board of Commissioners.
Request for Public Hearing on new road names
Rocky Hyder had submitted a request for a date and time for a public hearing to hear the following new road names:
Shadow Dance Lane
Williams Acres Lane
Pine River Road
Cow House Road
The County Manager recommended that the public hearing be set for Wednesday, February 18, 2004 at 11:00 a.m.
Request for Public Hearing on property address changes
Staff had submitted a request for a date and time for a public hearing for the purpose of approving property address changes for the period from August 1, 2003 to February 1, 2004. Pursuant to NCGS 153A-239.1 counties must hold a public hearing on property address changes, therefore the Board conducts public hearings on a bi-annual basis to formally approve changes made in the previous six month period.
The County Manager recommended that the public hearing be set for Wednesday, February 18, 2004 at 11:00 a.m.
Notification of Vacancies
The Board was notified of the following vacancies which will appear on the next agenda for nominations:
1. Agriculture Advisory Committee – 1 vac.
2. Equalization and Review – 6 vac.
3. Fire and Rescue Advisory Committee – 1 vac.
4. Historic Courthouse Corporation – new Corporation.
5. Industrial Facilities and Pollution Control Financing Authority – 2 vac.
6. Recreation Advisory Board – 4 vac.
Chairman Hawkins reminded the Board of the following vacancies and opened the floor to nominations:
1. Apple Country Greenways Commission – 1 vac.
There were no nominations at this time so this item was rolled to the next meeting.
2. Downtown Hendersonville Inc. – 1 vac.
There were no nominations at this time so this item was rolled to the next meeting.
3. Henderson County Transportation Advisory Committee – 18 vac.
Chairman Hawkins asked the Board to look at the municipal nominees. At the last meeting there was discussion of having a representative from the Sheriff’s Department and someone had been nominated. There was discussion of having a representative from Emergency Services and the School System. He suggested that the Board look at ten nominees plus the municipal recommendations. Chairman Hawkins made the motion to appoint the following municipal nominees:
Town of Laurel Park - Keith Maddox
Town of Fletcher - Eddie Henderson
Village of Flat Rock - John Manners
Town of Mills River - Jack Summey
All voted in favor and the motion carried.
20 people were nominated to the Transportation Advisory Committee at the last meeting. Chairman Hawkins asked if there were any more nominees. Commissioner Moyer nominated Tom Looby and Gary Mintz.
The nominees were: Chip Gould, Duane McKibbon, Larry Blair, Ron Swartzel, Erica McArthur, Renee Kumor, Robert Johnston, Jack Lynch, Joe Wright, Flaughn Lamb, Tom Looby, Jim Crafton, Jack Summey (already filled slot for the Town of Mills River), Don Michalove, John Antrim, Virgil McClure, Tedd Pearce, Irv Hendricks, Paul Stepp, Javonni Burchett, Rick Merill, and Gary Mintz.
The Clerk was asked to poll the Board and each Commissioner got 13 votes:
Commissioner Moyer – Gould, Kumor, Johnston, Lynch, Lamb, Looby, Crafton, Mintz, Antrim, McClure, Stepp, Burchett, and Merill.
Commissioner Messer – Gould, McArthur, Kumor, Johnston, Lynch, Lamb, Merill, McClure, Antrim, Looby, Stepp, Crafton, and Mintz.
Chairman Hawkins – Gould, McKibbon, Swartzel, McArthur, Lynch, Lamb, Looby, Crafton, Antrim, McClure, Hendricks, Burchett, and Mintz.
Commissioner Young – Gould, McKibbon, Swartzel, Lynch, Wright, Lamb, Crafton, Michalove, McClure, Hendricks, Burchett, Pearce and Mintz.
Commissioner Baldwin – Gould, Swartzel, McArthur, Kumor, Lynch, Lamb, Looby, Crafton, Michalove, Stepp, Burchett, Merill, and Mintz.
Five people received five votes each, four received four votes each, five received three votes each. The Clerk will poll the Board at the next meeting for the Board to pick four of the five who received three votes each:
Ron Swartzel, Renee Kumor, John Antrim, Paul Stepp, and Rick Merrill.
4. Henderson County Zoning Board of Adjustment – 1 vac.
There were no nominations at this time so this item was rolled to the next meeting.
5. Juvenile Crime Prevention Council – 3 vac.
There were no nominations at this time so this item was rolled to the next meeting.
6. Nursing/Adult Care Home Community Advisory Committee – 13 vac.
Chairman Hawkins nominated Gloria Sandburg, Bob Greenwald, Elizabeth Brennan, Stephanie Staton, and Janice Aho to positions # 11, 12,16, 19, and 20. Chairman Hawkins made the motion to accept these five by acclamation. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
7. Planning for Older Adults Block Grant Advisory Committee – 15 vac.
David Nicholson stated that to fully constitute the committee he has to have a mixture of older adults and folks from the public/agency side. From the applications turned in he has a full slate for the public/agency side but of the five positions set aside for the older adults he has only two applications. He can’t have a committee meeting because the committee is not fully constituted yet. Social Services and the Council on Aging are trying to solicit additional names for the older adults’ positions.
This item was rolled to the next meeting.
8. Senior Volunteer Services Advisory Council – 1 vac.
There were no nominations at this time so this item was rolled to the next meeting.
At this time the Board revisited the Transportation Advisory Committee. The City relayed their recommendation of Jon Laughter as their primary. Chairman Hawkins nominated Jon Laughter to fill the City of Hendersonville slot. Chairman Hawkins made the motion to accept Mr. Laughter by acclamation. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Recreation Advisory Board
The Recreation Advisory Board is currently comprised of nine voting members, serving three year terms. Additionally, a Commissioner serves on this Board as a representative in an ex-officio/non-voting capacity.
The Recreation Advisory Board requested the creation of an additional ex-officio/non-voting position, to be appointed by the Board of Education to serve as their representative.
Mr. Nicholson recommended that since we share some facilities and programs the Board of Commissioners allow for a representative from the Board of Education to serve on this advisory board.
Commissioner Messer serves as the Commissioner representative to this board and he recommended approval of the request. Commissioner Messer made the motion to revise the charter to accommodate an additional ex-officio/non-voting member from the Public School System (representing the School Board). All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Environmental Advisory Committee
The Environmental Advisory Committee recently reviewed their charter and had some questions about the committee’s current purpose and responsibilities. Based on this, Staff reviewed the charter and made several revisions to more accurately reflect the current purpose of the Committee. The Environmental Advisory Committee reviewed the draft charter at their meeting on January 8, 2004 and approved the draft being presented to the Board of Commissioners for final approval. The Board should consider whether it wishes to amend the charter as proposed.
Chairman Hawkins stated that the charter cleaned up some dialogue. The initial charter called for some researching for grants and an air quality issue we were dealing with, with the Asheville non-attainment. These were the only changes recommended.
Chairman Hawkins made the motion to accept the revised charter as presented. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
UNITED WAY PRESENTATION
David Nicholson stated that the representative from United Way had not arrived yet and asked the Board to go on to the next item and come back to this.
SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT GRANTS
The Henderson County Sheriff’s Department wishes to apply for two Governor’s Crime Prevention Grants. The details were contained within separate notebooks which the Board had received for review. One grant is for additional staff to deal with family violence prevention/enforcement and the other grant is for a mobile crime scene.
Sheriff Erwin thanked the Board for the opportunity of allowing the Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office and Mainstay to come today to make these requests.
Sheriff Erwin stated that when they look at grants they try to look at how much of an impact it will have on the community, the cost of the grants, and the overall benefit of the program. They have tried to follow the Henderson County Commissioners’ Strategic Plan. Strategy 2.1.3 “provide public safety funding, analyze public safety trends and challenges as they relate to budget funding, analyze public safety related prevention programs in regards to budget funding”. He then referred to Strategy 2.1.5 “provide funding for quality of life services, define and analyze quality of life services, determine a level of funding for quality of life services”. He further referred to Strategy 2.3.3 “pursue grants for equipment, purchases, operations, program implementation, capacity building, development, etc., encourage departments to more aggressively research grant availability to supplement their departmental budgets, to analyze the idea of a grants management position within county government.”
Sheriff Erwin stated that is what he and his staff have tried to do for going on ten years now that he has been Sheriff. They have been able to receive nearly a million dollars in grant funding from Federal and State monies. They were just approved for an $18,000 grant from the Governor’s Highway Safety Program.
Family Violence Prevention/Enforcement Grant
Sheriff Erwin gave the Board a summary of the history of family violence within Henderson County. When he first took office in 1994 one of the first things they did was implement a pro-arrest domestic violence policy in the State of North Carolina. At that time there was a lot of criticism of that policy. People said how can you prosecute someone if you don’t have a victim to testify. He placed the burden on the officer. It was up to the officers to gather the evidence to prosecute the case. It wasn’t incumbent upon the victim of domestic violence because the majority don’t want to go to court. They’ve been subjected to violence and they live in an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. They have had some success with that policy. In his 25 years in law enforcement he had never had a murder victim testify in court. He went out and gathered the evidence that was needed to prosecute and convict someone in a court of law and had 100% conviction rate on murder cases. Even with all the progress that has been made there has been a tremendous burden upon the prosecutors' office. District Attorney Jeff Hunt was present to address those issues.
Sheriff Erwin stated that to be able to apply for this grant they had to have collaboration between the District Attorney’s Office and the Office of the Sheriff. They also wanted to incorporate MainStay who will work closely with the Sheriff’s Department. Our community continues to grow. They have researched trends. With the continued growth in our community they are seeing more and more demands being placed on the limited resources that we have. Along with that growth we’re experiencing a rise in other areas. In 2002 we had 3,372 domestic violence calls in Henderson County and in 2003 we had 300 additional calls, up to 3,673. We’re seeing an increase in domestic violence protective orders averaging about one a day. Last year they served 318. It requires two officers to serve those for safety reasons. One day two weeks ago they had seven domestic violence orders in one day to serve. Those have to be served within 24 hours. There is a new mandated domestic violence law regarding seizure of firearms that the General Assembly enacted and the Governor signed into law which is mandated back on the Sheriff to go out and seize weapons if ordered to do so by the Judge.
Sheriff Erwin said they tried to make this grant as cost efficient as they possibly could. They are looking at having two designated family violence investigators and a part-time administrative person. The grant is a two-year grant. After the grant is over he would hope the County Commissioners would keep the program in place because he thinks it will have a tremendous impact in the quality of life of victims of domestic violence in families in this community. It will take a while to get on track and get things going but the groundwork has been laid. They already have a good collaboration and a good working environment with the District Attorney’s Office, with MainStay and with Healing Place. The D.A. needs additional evidence so that he can have a good evidence based prosecution if the victim doesn’t want to testify. Sheriff Erwin feels that with this grant we will see some positive change.
He touched briefly on Mosaic Software stating this is a very exciting piece of software. It will be beneficial not only for domestic violence cases but to our schools and to elected officials. Mosaic Software is being used by the U.S. Marshal’s Office, the C.I.A., the F.B.I., Sheriff’s Offices and Police Departments around the country. You take information and put it into the computer and it will give you the threat assessment. It is in this grant for domestic violence victims so they can do a threat assessment to see if that victim is susceptible to even more extensive violence and the potential for deadly violence from a perpetrator, whether it be a spouse, boyfriend, or whatever. The majority of women in this country are killed by spouses or boyfriends.
Sheriff Erwin proposed that a couple of vehicles that are coming off line be considered for the match. One vehicle has 20,000 miles and another has 40,000 miles and they can get those vehicles for $3,000 a piece. He proposed purchasing those two vehicles out of drug seizure money but we can count blue book value as a match towards the grant. We will only have $6,000 in those vehicles but according to Major Varnadore the blue book retail on each of those vehicles is nearly $13,000.
Ann Skinner, Director of Victim’s Services, spends about 50% of her time regarding family violence and domestic violence victims. Her time can be counted toward the match. Lt. Benny Pace will be the Supervisor and 10% of his time can be counted. They have tried to cover the match in house over the next two years. There will be an expense after that.
D.A. Jeff Hunt thanked the Board for the opportunity to appear before them. Years ago, in 1994, George Erwin ran on one issue of starting what they now call “evidence based prosecution”. In the last decade he has seen an increase in the number of domestic violence cases in this county and in the five-county district. This grant is intended to assist with the evidence based prosecution theory. He feels this is the time for this grant and feels it can be tremendously successful.
Staff Attorney Mose Highsmith informed the Board that someone from the Pitt County Sheriff’s Department (Sgt. John Gard) is coming in April for two days of training at BRCC. He’s become the foremost evidence-based prosecution law enforcement person in the State. All departments in the county will be invited to that.
Following discussion, Chairman Hawkins made the motion to approve the submission of the grant pre-application. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Mobile Crime Scene Unit Grant
Sheriff Erwin stated that once again the Board’s Strategic Plan was applied in looking at this grant. The State Bureau of Investigation has limited resources now. You can’t call on them as much as you could in the past for support. They have very limited resources. The Medical Examiner’s offices have very limited resources. Sheriff Erwin stated he likes to be as self sufficient as possible and then be wise enough to realize when we can’t handle something and to be able to ask for assistance.
Sheriff Erwin stated that the first step in regards to this grant was when he restructured the Sheriff’s office he implemented a forensic services unit. Detective Corporal Ron Davis is the forensic services technician for the Sheriff’s Office. Mr. Davis completed a ten week course at the University of Tennessee National Forensics Academy. There are only three people in North Carolina to ever graduate from this course and there are only 100 in the entire nation to graduate from the National Forensics Academy at the University of Tennessee.
This grant would provide a vehicle that is specifically designed for crime scene investigation. This grant is $78,356.69. Ron Davis’ vehicle is scheduled to come off the fleet in August as we transition from one program to another on the vehicles. His vehicle on a buy-out would be $16,000. Our match on this grant is $19,000. In this new vehicle we get the crime scene equipment that he needs, a mobile data terminal, a computer ($11,000) in the vehicle. The radio in his current vehicle is 13 years old so it will be replaced ($5,000). This vehicle has all the additional equipment that he needs that he currently doesn’t have. He introduced Lt. Corporal Ron Davis who then addressed the Board.
Ron Davis mentioned Dr. Bass who runs the “Body Farm” at the National Forensics Academy. The course he attended covered the whole spectrum of crime scene analysis: tool mark impressions, latent evidence, patent evidence, DNA type evidence, crime scene processing, digital photography, 35 mm photography, etc. He reviewed the Sheriff’s Department’s crime scene equipment before attending the course, noting that it was fairly basic but that they pretty much had what they needed. He came away from the course thinking that all they had was some crime scene type bags. Currently if they have a major case they call the State Bureau of Investigations. Their resources are very limited. We had a homicide last year and the SBI had to call in agents from Hickory to help process the crime scene. As a result of the drive time for them to prep. and come from Hickory, officers here had to wait while the victim was sitting in a vehicle. The window was down and it started to rain. Forensic evidence is very transient and needs to be collected in a timely fashion. The new equipment would help cases come to trial quicker.
Following discussion, Chairman Hawkins made the motion to approve the submission of this grant pre-application. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
UNITED WAY PRESENTATION
David Nicholson introduced Henry Johnson, Executive Director of the Henderson County United Way. Mr. Johnson stated that the United Way Campaign 2003 Wrap Up was a week ago Friday at Kanuga Conferences. A new record was set for the amount of money raised in Henderson County. A number of organizations were recognized who had demonstrated real campaign leadership and one of them was the employees of Henderson County. Henderson County employees pledged a record amount of money, $16,597 which was $3,459 more than last year or 21% increase. That was very commendable. Of that it was notable that three employees donated at the leadership level which is $1,000 or more. He presented a plaque to the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners. The books are not closed on the campaign until March 31 so it's not too late to add to that total.
Mr. Johnson stated that it is no secret that one of the reasons organizations have successful campaigns is because of their internal leadership. Henderson County has been blessed for the last couple of years with a great campaign coordinator. She was recognized as the outstanding campaign coordinator in this year’s campaign, Karen Saine. Karen is an employee of the Parks and Recreation Department. She thanked her team members and the department heads for getting the information out to the employees.
Mr. Johnson stated that this year United Way invested $1,224,000 back into our community, from a campaign of about $1.5 million raised last year. For every dollar given in Henderson County, 99 cents stays in Henderson County unless the donor requests it go somewhere else. In September United Way launched “211 Information Referral Service” which is a comprehensive 24/7 service. Internal beneficiaries include departments in county government, particularly DSS and the Health Department who now have an information referral service to give to people rather than spending time with them referring them to services that they don’t provide.
HOME PROGRAM APPLICATIONS
Selena Coffey reminded the Board that annually they hear from applicants who come before them explaining how they would like to use Henderson County’s planning level for Home Program funds. This year there were two applicants. Currently we have not received confirmation on the dollar figure but are expecting a 0.82% decrease in funding, based on what the Federal government is giving us so we expect about $193,000 as the county planning level. That includes zero county funds. This program provides affordable housing to the citizens within our community. She introduced Doug Watson with Habitat for Humanity and Ken Perkins with Housing Assistance Corporation who will each make their requests for funds.
Habitat for Humanity
Doug Watson presented the request from Habitat to apply for $85,000 to continue Phase I of the Highlander Woods Subdivision. This project received $97,000 in HOME Program funds during the 2003 program year.
This development is on Stepp Road in the Clear Creek community. This summer they brought a waterline 6/10th of a mile down Stepp Road into the property and building a road into this nicely wooded piece of property. They currently have three homes under construction there. When the project is finished they will have 18 homes on this portion of the 32 acre site.
Habitat for Humanity builds 3-4 bedroom homes for residents of Henderson County who are currently living in substandard housing and whose income is in the 30-50% range of the median income of the county. These selected families have to put in 400 sweat equity hours with Habitat. They complete their 400 hours and make a small down payment and Habitat provides them with a 20-year no interest mortgage on these homes. Habitat sells the homes at cost, somewhere between $70,000 and $75,000 on a home with a value of about $112,000. Local contributions, a very successful retail store, and the mortgage income from home owners give Habitat enough money to provide for the cost for the housing and their overhead costs. What they need from the grants is money to cover the cost of land acquisition and land development, specifically with this $85,000 they are looking for the cost of developing twelve lots. Costs involve clearing the lots, putting in septic, covering the building fees, water tap fees, and some engineering costs. This total project will cost about $1,300,000, 2/3 of the monies will come from Habitat funds and 1/3 will come from grants. This $85,000 represents about 6% of the total costs. When they complete the 18 homes they will add them to the 66 homes that they have already built in Henderson County.
Housing Assistance Corporation
Ken Perkins presented the request from Housing Assistance to apply for $350,000 for the construction of the Highland View Apartments at the Village at King Creek. The Village at King Creek project received $97,942 in Henderson County planning level HOME funding during the 2003 program year.
He stated that the affordable housing arena here in Henderson County is still the vanishing breed. We are running short in this county by approximately 1,000 units per year in affordable housing. The average home price, according to the Board of Realtors, is now up in the area of over $200,000 per home. They proposed to continue on a project which had already been started on the Spartanburg Highway. They purchased approximately 30 acres and plan to build upwards to 163 living units. They have completed 36 living units for the senior housing project. They also have under construction a dozen single family homes in a self-help program. The Highland View Apartments are tax credit apartments that they have to make application for to several entities. The total cost of the project is $2.8 million. They have 28 units planned. The unique thing about this project is that they are looking at the 50 – 60% median income tenant base to commit to a three-year tenancy. During the three years these families will be asked to pay 30% of their income, a portion of which goes to the rental and a balance of it goes into a savings account. Over the three-year period these folks typically can walk out of the apartment with the anticipation of home ownership with as much as $8,000 - $10,000 from savings while being counseled and mentored to fix their credit ratings and to save money for the program. It is called an “incubator” program and is unique to the state of North Carolina. They currently have two successful projects here in the county working. They are the current owners of 128 rental units. Mr. Perkins stated that the project is revenue producing, is not sheltered in any way from taxes. All their 128 rental units have waiting lists. There is a major shortage of affordable housing. These units will also be subject to project based rental assistance. They are also asking the City to participate in funding this project by contributing their funding monies, $26,000.
Selena Coffey recognized Bob Ogden, second appointee (junior) of the Board of Commissioners to the Housing Consortium, who was present in the audience. Selena Coffey reminded the Board that the applications presented total $435,000 which exceeds the County’s planning level allocation by approximately $242,000. However, the Board may choose to endorse funds exceeding this amount.
Staff recommended that the Board approve both requests for HOME funds. The deadline for applications to be filed with the Asheville Regional Housing Consortium is January 31, 2004.
Following discussion, Chairman Hawkins made the motion to look to fund both and ask for additional funding if there is any. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
INFORMAL PUBLIC COMMENTS
1. Dick Baird – Mr. Baird stated that he had taken the Board’s example and had developed his own strategic plan. It’s three words “put kids first”. He stated that the Board would hear from him often this year along those lines. He spoke about parks and recreation as it applies to children, stating that there is a big need for additional tennis courts at Jackson Park as well as a need to refurbish the dilapidated tennis courts there. The building of additional tennis courts at Jackson Park would be less costly than building additional courts at the high schools and the high schools could use the courts at Jackson Park for tournaments.
He stated that there had been no capital projects in Parks and Recreation for several years. The maintenance funding is judged inadequate and the facilities seem to indicate that.
He asked that the Board fund two tennis courts ($50,000) out of fund balance and get the construction done so that we have six courts available to the high schools this year. He stated that repair of the existing four could be put off until next year and then build an additional two more courts year after next. He also asked the Board to look into the parks and recreation capital maintenance needs as they go through the budget cycle.
2. Terry Hicks – Mr. Hicks is the former Mayor of Flat Rock and a current council member. He spoke on behalf of the Village of Flat Rock regarding tax distribution methods. On the Commissioners’ agenda today is an item for discussion about future distribution of sales taxes in Henderson County. He read from a prepared statement – “The citizens and the voters from the Village of Flat Rock are very concerned about what they’re hearing about the potential loss or denial of their receiving any of the distribution of sales taxes in the forthcoming fiscal years. They feel that they’re entitled to some of these funds and they would like to find a way that something could be worked out with the county so that they are recipients of some of these funds.” He requested that as a part of the Board’s deliberations that the Board include considerations for an interlocal agreement with the Village of Flat Rock which provides the Village to receive a share of these funds which have been paid by the citizens and the voters of the Village of Flat Rock.
He also stated that they have been asking for updated information that the Board is considering regarding this issue and have been asking for it rather aggressively since last October and to date had received nothing. He felt it appropriate that it be entered into the record that the Board of Commissioners share with the Village of Flat Rock the same information that the Board is reviewing and studying so that the Village can stay up to date and keep the citizens informed about what’s taking place with this issue.
Chairman Hawkins stated that the information the Board is going to look at later in the agenda is the first time the Board will have seen the information. He stated that this information has not been available until this meeting. Information has been shared with the Village as well as the other municipalities.
Mr. Nicholson stated that staff had requested information from the Village and that request was refused. He assured the Board of Commissioners that nothing other than staff documents had been created prior to this meeting that had not been shared.
Chairman Hawkins stated that Mayor Shaw and he had discussed options informally on ways to approach next year’s tax levy.
NEW VEHICLE FINANCING PROPOSAL
Chairman Hawkins stated that the Board had discussed this issue during budget deliberations, leases are expiring and it is time to move on this issue.
Carey McLelland reminded the Board that in the current year’s budget the Board approved and appropriated debt service to finance the installment purchase of new vehicles to replace vehicles in the County’s fleet that either had leases expiring during the fiscal year or were requested and approved as new vehicle replacements for certain departments.
Staff requested proposals from financial institutions to do an installment purchase contract financing for thirty-seven new vehicles at a total cost of $720,000. The Board appropriated $138,961 in the Fiscal Year 2004 budget to pay debt service on financing for these vehicles. Mr. McLelland presented the results of the financing proposals received from five financial institutions.
RBC Centura had been certified as the lowest responsive proposal to finance the new vehicles for a 3-year term at a non-bank qualified interest rate of 2.38%. The total debt service payments required for the current fiscal year would be one quarterly payment of $62,345.74 and the total annual payments thereafter would be $249,382.96.
Staff recommended that the Board consider approving the prepared resolution accepting and approving the proposal received from RBC Centura and authorizing the Chairman and staff to execute the required financing documents to close this transaction. No formal approval by the Local Government Commission or a public hearing is required to enter into this installment purchase contract financing. Also provided for the Board’s review were draft copies of the Installment Financing Contract and Escrow Deposit Agreement.
The County Manager stated it would be appropriate for the Board to adopt the prepared resolution at this meeting since funds were included in this year’s budget for debt service to replace these vehicles.
Mrs. Beeker had reviewed the agreement and recommended some revisions to the agreement. The resolution does permit the Chairman to approve minor changes to the documents.
Following discussion, Chairman Hawkins made the motion that the Board adopt the prepared Resolution. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
ARCHITECT AGREEMENT – COUNTY SERVICES BUILDING
Mr. Nicholson had copied the Board yesterday with this agreement as well as a cover memo. Staff was in final negotiations with Calloway, Johnson, Moore & West yesterday until close to 5:00 p.m. Staff has found them to be a really good firm to work with. We don’t usually sign the standard AIA Contract. Over the years we have done a number of amendments to the contract that puts more responsibilities on the architect and clarifies better what the County’s position is.
This contract is being drafted as a lump sum contract. When the Board sees Phase II of the contract they won’t see it done on a percentage basis. It will be done on a lump sum basis. It is also being developed in a two phase process. The Board had asked that some additional things be added to the site. The original proposal was to put Health and Human Services on the site, based on the feasibility study that Calloway, Johnson, Moore & West did for us. Later the Board talked about putting County Administration, Human Resources, Finance, Legal, and the offices of the Land Development departments: Inspections, Planning, Zoning, Utilities, Fire Marshal, and Property Addressing and put the current Health Department building up for sale. There are still some unanswered questions such as: Is parking adequate?, Can the site handle everyone who has been recommended to go to that building?, Is it logical to combine all these departments into one building?. Staff had asked the architect to study for whether this is a “Go or No Go” project. The architect would review the size of the building to accommodate everyone, parking, traffic flow in and out of the buildings, etc. They are willing to do Phase I of the contract at a cost of $6,500. Staff would come back to the Commissioners at that point in time and give them a better idea about the possibility of putting everyone on that site. Once that decision is made by the Board of Commissioners, we would then have a better idea about the square footage of this building. Those parameters are not fully defined yet.
Mr. Nicholson asked the Board to give consideration to looking at this contract with a Phase I cost of $6,500. Once the Board says they are happy with the site and the departments who will occupy it then staff can negotiate a full cost contract and amend this Phase I contract with a lump sum contract for this project.
Chairman Hawkins made the motion that the Board direct the County Manager to complete the Phase I Contract.
Following more discussion, Chairman Hawkins amended his motion to include the ability for staff to make some minor modifications to the presented contract. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Staff is working on a bid package to demolish the existing building on the site. Those bids will be brought to the Board at a future meeting.
UPDATE ON PENDING ISSUES
Mills River Interlocal Agreement
Mrs. Beeker reminded the Board that a couple of months ago a contract was signed with the Town of Mills River such that the County would enforce the County’s Ordinances for a certain period of time and at that time the provisions regarding litigation expenses, if there were to be any, was left open to be added to the contract later. She received a proposal from the Town of Mills River through their attorney, Sharon Alexander, yesterday morning. She had distributed that in the Commissioners’ mailboxes at that time.
Mrs. Beeker reviewed that document with the Board. The Town is willing to share the cost of Attorney’s fees if outside counsel is hired. Any litigation that arises out of enforcement of the Ordinances is handled in house they would not expect to have to pay any of the Attorney expenses, they would be willing to share half of the out-of-pocket expenses.
Secondly the Town would like to have input if outside counsel is hired before the decision to hire outside counsel has been made and they would like a statement from the Board that the Board would agree to give due consideration to any concerns or opinions expressed by the Council.
Thirdly the Town wants the absolute right over the Board’s ability to choose the Attorney to have their Town Attorney represent the County and the Town in any matters of litigation. Verbal communications with Mrs. Alexander indicated that they would expect the County to pay half of the Town Attorney’s costs if they elected to do that. If this is a matter that is covered by Insurance, they would pay half of a necessary insurance deductible.
Board discussion followed with Mr. Nicholson stating that this is a good starting point but he would not recommend it to the Board without further negotiations. Chairman Hawkins asked if Commissioner Messer would consider meeting with Mrs. Beeker and Mrs. Alexander to work on a joint agreement which would be agreeable to both entities. Commissioner Messer agreed to if the Chairman would also meet with them. Chairman Hawkins asked that staff try to bring this back on the next agenda for action by the Board.
Commissioner Messer raised the issue that Mills River should have been present at this meeting to answer any questions the Board might have had.
Chairman Hawkins and Commissioner Young attended the MPO meeting in Asheville which was an organizational meeting. They covered a lot of areas including the Prospectus, By-laws, method and process for election and continuity of officers in the MPO. One item in the plan for next year is to hire a consultant to look at our transit situation. Once we became an MPO we started having reporting requirements not unlike transit systems in large cities. For our small struggling transit system we could consume all the resources in just doing the reporting without providing any services.
Water & Sewer meeting update
Chairman Hawkins asked if there was any objection to adding this item at this time. There was none.
Commissioner Moyer informed the Board that on January 15 they had the first meeting of the newly formed Henderson County Water & Sewer Advisory Council. They reviewed the charge to the Council and talked about how to go about meeting the charge with the goal of coming up with a Master Plan for Water and Sewer for the County. They also discussed the requests for water and sewer extensions, reviewed the present procedure and the desire to get this group involved in taking a look at those. It was the unanimous feeling of the group that they were not ready at this point in time to do that but rather to continue the present procedure of notifying the county and the municipalities of when there would be an extension of either in their jurisdiction and have that process continue to work. As the Council gets up and running they would be willing to deal with those issues at some point in the future and will go back to LGCCA and let them know they are ready.
In discussing the water and sewer extensions, one issue that the Board of Commissioners has wrestled with was the provision of fire protection out in the county. The City indicated that they are very supportive of the comments they receive back from the County and Rocky which helps give them leverage to go to the developers asking for the additional fire protection. They hope that the County will continue to give them such comments they can use. In several cases they have been able to update the fire protection/hydrants.
Commissioner Messer stated that the Cane Creek Water & Sewer Committee met last month. He mentioned the fire department substations and the cost of running water and sewer to the new substations. He thinks we need to have a joint venture to help make this a better situation.
Chairman Hawkins mentioned the contaminated water situation over on Howard Gap and thought the County could investigate getting some type grant to help get water to those folks. Mr. Nicholson stated he would be glad to help in any way the County staff can. He had already e-mailed the City Manager about this yesterday and has not gotten a response yet. The County might have to actually secure the grant since the line is outside the City limits. There is a real public health issue with this problem. It was the consensus of the Board for the County Manager to investigate the possibility of the County securing a grant for this situation.
Chairman Hawkins informed the Board that the Joint Facilities meeting is scheduled for January 29 at the Board of Education at 5:00 p.m.
He also stated that yesterday we were made aware that the Transportation Advisory Committee is going to have some meetings on February 3 at the library. They will have public input from 3:00 to 4:00 and again from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. Between those times will be a time from 5:00 – 6:30 p.m. for governmental entities.
PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO THE HENDERSON COUNTY WATER SUPPLY WATERSHED ORDINANCE
Karen Smith reminded the Board that on January 5 the Board voted 4 to 1 in favor of approving the draft ordinance that would amend Chapter 192, Part 1, of the Henderson County Code (the Water Supply Watershed Protection Ordinance) by adding a requirement for a minimum 100-foot buffer for development that uses the “10/70” or Special Intensity Allocation (SIA) provisions.
A second reading of the draft ordinance is required since the motion at the January 5 meeting did not pass unanimously.
Mrs. Smith received an e-mail correspondence back from the State Water Supply Watershed staff noting that our ordinance in all other aspects other than this 100-foot buffer regard seemed to be OK. They will send a formal letter on that matter. The Board had asked that staff communicate with the NC Attorney General’s office in writing looking for clarification on the 100-foot buffer question and also that staff communicate with the Environmental Management Commission about possibly clarifying their rules. Mrs. Beeker has looked into both those matters.
Mrs. Beeker stated that the letter went out to the Attorney General’s office requesting a formal opinion. She researched the Administrative Procedure Acts to find out how you go about getting the Environmental Management Commission to clarify their rules regarding whether 100-foot is the state minimum or not. What she discovered was that’s not the way they work. You don’t just write and ask for a clarification from the Environmental Management Commission or any other commission. What the Administrative Procedures Act says is that you must petition them with specific language or a specific amendment what you would like to see in the rules. The alternative would have been to write the staff of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Division of Water Quality Division who is staff to that Commission and ask them to approach the Environmental Management Commission for a clarification. Before doing that she wanted to get more direction from the Board because clearly if the staff is asked to approach for the clarification the staff is going to propose a specific amendment with 100-foot in it. That’s how they’ll go about getting the clarification. Knowing the two alternatives, how would the Board like for her to proceed? If the staff goes to the Environmental Management Commission and says would you please clarify that its 100-feet, there’s never going to be a dialogue at the Environmental Management Commission level, it would be more like a consent agenda item. Whereas if we submit specific language that the Board would like to see then she thinks there might be a chance of some dialogue occurring.
Mrs. Beeker said if the Board wants to approach the Environmental Management Commissioner they could say “for 10/70 projects the minimum set-back from perennial streams shall be ____ feet” and fill in the number and submit that to them. That would be a clarification.
Mrs. Beeker got an advisory e-mail from the Attorney General’s office and a clarification from that Assistant Attorney General that that’s all she was prepared to do was an advisory opinion as to what the minimum was.
The Board had directed Mrs. Beeker to request a formal opinion from the Attorney General’s office previously which she did.
Any amendment to the rules has to go through the rule-making process.
Following discussion, Chairman Hawkins made the motion to approve the “Ordinance to Revise Chapter 192, Part I, of the Henderson County Code Regarding Watershed Protection.” A vote was taken and the motion carried four to one with Commissioner Moyer voting nay.
There was Board consensus for Mrs. Beeker to pursue the inquiry to the Commission with some specific language (conferring with Mills River and others).
RURAL TRANSPORTATION PLANNING ORGANIZATION
Mr. Nicholson reminded the Board that Henderson County is a member of the French Broad River MPO. This MPO covers the US Census’ Metropolitan Statistical Area and a projection of areas that are expected to become more urban over the next 20 years. However, there are parts of Henderson County that are not covered in the MPO. The purpose of this agenda item was for Mr. Nicholson to discuss with the Board Henderson County joining a RPO.
Henderson County has two alternatives for membership in a RPO. These organizations are either the Land-of-Sky RPO or Isothermal RPO. At the Transportation Advisory Committee meeting of December 11, 2003, the members discussed Henderson County joining the Land-of-Sky Rural Transportation Planning Organization.
The Transportation Advisory Committee heard from Beverly Williams and then from Jake Gilmer who is the RPO coordinator. Following that discussion they recommended to this Board that you give consideration to joining the Land-of-Sky RPO.
Mr. Nicholson stated that clearly NCDOT has determined that transportation issues will be handled on a regional basis in the future. Our participation in the MPO is mandated. Our participation in a RPO is recommended. All of the entire State is included within one of these planning models with the exception of a portion of Henderson County. He recommended that the Board consider joining the Land-of-Sky RPO effective July 1, 2004. The MPO’s match has been paid for by the City of Asheville, the lead agency. The Land-of-Sky RPO will be jointly funded by the organizations who are members of that. There are no fees until the end of this coming June. The cost to join would be $3,700.
Jake Gilmer addressed the Board again addressing the $3,700 cost and answering questions from the Board. He addressed the issue of a Commissioner being mandated to serve on the RPO Board stating it could be a proxy voter.
There was some discussion of that portion of Henderson County in question being part of the MPO. It was the consensus of the Board for Chairman Hawkins and Commissioner Young to attend the next MPO meeting and argue letting the rest of Henderson County into the MPO. Mr. Moyer requested that they also get clarification on what the MPO’s position is on I-26. It appears to have been pulled from the list of projects.
Chairman Hawkins called a short technical recess to change videotapes.
MEDIACOM FRANCHISE RENEWAL
Angela Beeker reminded the Board that in September Mediacom gave the county what is known in the industry as the 6/26 notice. Basically that is a notice saying that they wish to proceed in renewal negotiations under a formal process. Included as part of that letter they said that pending the formal process they would like to proceed informally but reserve the right to invoke the formal process at any time. The formal process involves conducting a needs assessment and a compliance audit which is a public process. When that is completed then a request for proposals is prepared by the County and sent to the Company and it specifically states in that request for proposals what the county would like to see in a new franchise. The Company would then respond by submitting a proposal and then the Board would receive that proposal and make a preliminary decision, not a final decision, of renewal or denial. If renewal is the preliminary decision then you would proceed to negotiate a new franchise. If denial was the preliminary decision, then you would have to conduct a quasi-judicial proceeding to determine if in fact under the factors contained in the federal statute you could in fact deny it. If the Board denied it after a quasi-judicial proceeding then they could appeal that to court. If the Board decided that they couldn’t deny it based on those factors, the Board would then proceed to negotiate the franchise. As it sounds, that’s pretty involved.
Presented to the Board as part of the agenda packet was an Ordinance proposed to:
1. Affirm the existing franchise that is in place with Mediacom.
2. It affirms all of the transfers that have taken place. The company
when the franchise was originally granted was US Cable, actually Essex 1983 Partnership.
3. It responds to the 6/26 notice by saying that yes the Board would like to proceed
on an informal basis yet reserve the right to invoke the formal process at any time.
Mrs. Beeker stated that because this ordinance would affirm the current franchise and it involves the current franchise directly this would have to pass at two regular meetings of the Board before it would become effective. It also directs the County Manager to provide the notice to Mediacom of the initiation of the franchise renewal process under the terms of this ordinance.
Also presented for the Board’s review was a proposed charter entitled “Henderson County Cable Franchise Renewal Advisory Committee Charter”. This committee would work with Mr. Nicholson, Mrs. Beeker, and the Board of Commissioners through the renewal process but would be charged with conducting the public process that would be a part of the formal process, to go ahead and get that out of the way.
Chairman Hawkins stated that the Board originally had a Cable Advisory Committee in the past.
Mrs. Beeker stated that this charter would create a project committee that would exist to get the Board through the renewal or renegotiation or whatever the Board decides to do. Staff recommended forming a committee after the renewal process has been complete to work with the cable company for everybody’s benefit on an on-going basis (county-wide).
There was some discussion of including the municipalities early on in the negotiations. There was mention of having a consultant, someone knowledgeable in cable law and everyone sharing in that expense. Mrs. Beeker reminded the Board that they already have a consultant on contract but money hasn’t been appropriated to pay him through a renewal process but we could certainly do that. She stated that so far he has done a very good job.
Several months ago the Board authorized an audit of Cable. Staff has been working with Mediacom and our consultant (John Howell). It had been staff’s hope to be able to bring that audit to the Board at this meeting. Mr. Nicholson stated that they are very close to being able to bring that to the Board. The audit is being finalized.
At a recent LGCCA meeting, every municipality was in favor of forming one group to negotiate for everyone so this issue will need to be taken back to them if everyone is going to have to negotiate on their own. The expiration dates don’t coincide.
Mrs. Beeker stated that the statute has a very specific window of when Mediacom can give the 6/26 notice so they couldn’t give that notice to everybody at the same time because of the different expiration dates. On a formal basis everybody has to go it alone unless you have the same expiration date. On an informal basis, from a legal standpoint, if the Board wishes to involve everybody informally that would be fine. But as far as conducting the community needs assessment under the formal process, we have to do that.
Mrs. Beeker stated that the committee was designed to serve both purposes, to proceed informally and formally because until the community needs assessment is conducted you really don’t get into the nuts and bolts of the new franchise under the formal process. But under the informal process, our thoughts were that staff would put together a first draft to present as a starting point for the committee to work through on an informal basis on negotiations with the cable company. Our staff and our County Attorney can’t represent the municipalities regarding negotiations. The municipalities would have to have their own staff and counsel present.
Ordinance reviewed – “An Ordinance Affirming Existing Franchise With Mediacom Southeast LLC, Acknowledging Receipt of Request for Renewal and Initiating Cable Franchise Renewal Proceedings”.
Chairman Hawkins recommended the Board taking another look at the Committee Charter (Cable Franchise Renewal Advisory Committee) after having some dialogue with the municipalities and/or the consultant. Chairman Hawkins made the motion to approve the Ordinance as presented and direct the County Manager to make the written notice to Mediacom. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Staff will notify Mediacom after this passes a second reading. This will show up on Feb. 2 agenda for second reading under Consent Agenda.
SALES TAX DISTRIBUTION
Mr. Nicholson reminded the Board that state law allows the Board of Commissioners to select how sales tax is distributed within the municipalities and the county. It must be done by resolution which has not been prepared yet as this is more of an informational item at this time. The resolution must be adopted no later than April on a yearly basis.
Every year in the budget process, these numbers are reviewed to determine when it is more cost efficient for Henderson County to consider changing the allocation formula from per capita which we are currently to ad valorem tax levy. He reviewed two spread sheets with the Board. He explained the effect each distribution method would have on the county tax rate over the next several years.
Currently we get credit for everyone who lives in Henderson County and then the municipalities are added back to that number. If we go with the ad valorem tax method, you would total up all the tax levies and add back any special district taxes. The Board would have to be willing to adjust the special district tax rates or our fire tax rates. Mr. Nicholson stated that it may take several years for this to work itself out. The Board would have to look at the numbers each year and decide which method would be most cost effective for the county.
Approx. 60% of the counties across the state do their sales tax distribution per capita and approx. 40% do their sales tax distribution ad valorem.
Henderson County lost 1.2 million dollars when Mills River incorporated. Henderson County has a number of capital expenses to consider how to fund. Bottom line this would bring in about an additional 2 million dollars to the county coffers. This information was presented for the Board’s information and review.
CANE CREEK WATER & SEWER DISTRICT
Chairman Hawkins made the motion for the Board to adjourn as Henderson County Board of Commissioners and convene as Cane Creek Water & Sewer District. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Chairman Hawkins made the motion for the Board to adjourn as Cane Creek Water & Sewer District and reconvene as Henderson County Board of Commissioners at approximately 1:30 p.m. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Chairman Hawkins made the motion for the Board to adjourn. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Elizabeth W. Corn, Clerk to the Board Grady Hawkins, Chairman