STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
COUNTY OF HENDERSON MAY 25, 2004
The Henderson County Board of Commissioners met for a special called meeting at 5:00 p.m. in the Commissioners' Conference Room of the Henderson County Office Building. The purpose of this meeting was a FY 2004-2005 Budget Workshop.
Those present were: Chairman Grady Hawkins, Vice-Chairman Larry Young, Commissioner Bill Moyer, Commissioner Charlie Messer, Commissioner Shannon Baldwin, and Clerk to the Board Elizabeth W. Corn.
Also present were: County Manager David E. Nicholson, Budget and Management Director Selena Coffey, Assistant County Manager Justin B. Hembree, Budget and Finance Director J. Carey McLelland, County Attorney Angela S. Beeker, and Assistant County Attorney Russell Burrell.
CALL TO ORDER/WELCOME
Chairman Hawkins called the meeting to order at approx. 5:05 p.m.
Adjustment to the Agenda
Chairman Hawkins informed the Board of a need for the Board to go into closed session. He made the motion to add a closed session item at the end of the budget deliberations - for the Board to go into closed session as allowed pursuant to NCGS 143-318.11(a)(4) To discuss the location or expansion of industries or business in the area served by the public body. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Chairman Hawkins referenced the County Manager’s memo “Budget Notes #1” and reminded the Board that Mr. Nicholson mentioned school’s current expenses and pointed out that he didn’t recommend that the Board approve specific requests from the Board of Public Education and not fund others. Mr. Hawkins reminded the Board that he felt that was the way to go under this budgeting process – not for the Board to make specific recommendations for specific line items in a specific budget but rather to look at the whole budget for the department, as the case may be.
DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES (DSS)
Liston Smith, Director of DSS, addressed the Board. He referenced his prepared hand-out which the Clerk distributed to the Board.
Mr. Smith stated that most of what he would be presenting would be targeting Child Protective Services and Foster Care in our county, not to diminish other programs but these are the priorities. He mentioned public safety demands and challenges in child protection.
Mr. Smith stated that our level of service demand has increased significantly, particularly in the last year. Our county ranks in the top 10 for the number of children referred to the Department of Social Services from someone in the community because of child abuse and neglect. In the last year we’ve had a 20% increase with 2,150 children referred from 1,510 families. More alarming, they had 40 children placed in their custody within a three month period this past winter, court ordered by a judge with half of those based on substance abuse. Over the last 18 months there has been a 113% increase in the number of children the county is responsible for (Foster Care). When he wrote the budget that number was 93, before he delivered it to Mr. Nicholson it was 100, and today that number is 103. This is a very disturbing trend. He stated that the only time he had seen an increase like this was back in 1991 or 1992.
Mr. Smith briefly discussed some of their outcomes and goals, one of which is to reunite children removed from their parents within a 12 month period. At this point they have 41 children who have not been reunited with their parents within a 12 month period.
Mr. Smith stated that they are short 5 of the 31 children’s services workers daily due to vacancy/absenteeism. They are short an additional 6.5 workers to meet the minimum performance of daily tasks (as defined by State workload and performance standards). Every day, at the present level of service demand, almost a third of the minimum workforce for protecting children is not there.
Request for additional staff
Mr. Smith requested $304,008 for 6.5 permanent staff and $117,036 for three temporary staff. He requested $96,120 for contracted legal services and $112,733 for contracted law enforcement services.
The Board asked several questions which were answered by Liston Smith, Peggy Gray, and Grace Poli.
Mr. Smith reminded the Board that when the economy is low more people come to DSS for assistance.
Mr. Smith was asked how the County Manager’s recommended budget would affect programs and services. He answered that he would look at all non-mandated programs and services and would have to do away with some to have money for the mandated programs and services.
Grace Poli, DSS Board member, reminded the Board that “You either pay now or you pay later – if you pay later you’re going to be paying a lot more”. She commented that she hoped what Liston had presented to the Board today would raise their awareness on what’s happening in the community as well as raise their concern level. She stated that it certainly is a concern to her because “we as a Board are directed to look at the county’s children, the families, and the elder adults and if we don’t have some of these services that are being cut back or even some of the mandated – we may not be able to perform the way we should be – that means that they are not getting the help they need.”
PUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENT
Tom Bridges, Director of DSS, addressed the Board. He recognized his staff that were present with him:
Barbara Stanley, Nursing Director; Diane Stepp, Accounting Technician and Dr. David Chapman, Chairman of the Board of Health.
Mr. Bridges distributed his 6 page prepared hand-out entitled “Departmental Response to the FY 2005 Budget Recommendations of the County Manager”. He stated that he understands that we must continue to be concerned about economic conditions. He stated “I have never known a year in my 29 years with local and state public health that I haven’t heard austerity when planning for budgets. But I also agree some years are of greater magnitude and necessity than others to limit expansion of effort to provide certain services.” He also stated that with the downturn in the economy he anticipates continued demand for their services.
He expressed particular comments about the FY 2005 budget recommendations as proposed by the County Manager:
#538100 Professional Services requested: $20,000 proposed: $15,000
covers SPAY & NEUTER and now, MICROCHIP this is paid by citizens, not the county … they need the line item appropriated to provide these services.
#512200 Salaries & Wages – Overtime requested $20,000 proposed $15,000
In the past, Mr. Bridges had appealed to the Board of County Commissioners and adjustments were made to this line item when turn-around time for permits backlogged.
#523902 Flu Program requested $120,000 proposed: $75,000
They had planned to conduct another mass flu vaccination drill with the community this fall with both of our hospitals, emergency management, EMS, Red Cross, and other community and private agencies and businesses at the closed Bi-Lo store on Spartanburg Hwy. Cutting their budget from $120,000 to $75,000 will likely result in cancellation of this event. The pharmaceutical companies manufacturing the vaccine want cash on the barrel when the vaccine is ordered. This process began back in January when they needed to know how much vaccine was needed.
Fortunately, last year we had high demand for limited vaccine. Park Ridge hospital offered us 2,500 doses extra and Pardee hospital donated an additional 1,000 to us free that we could use. Consequently, we came out in the black and provided approximately 8,000 influenza vaccinations. For this year’s exercise the hospitals and health department want to promote to more of our citizens who are at risk to participate in this event by providing up to 15,000 doses to adults. Park Ridge hospital prefers to participate in the Bioterrorism Exercise (Community Mass Flu Vaccination) effort and does not plan to sponsor a free flu shot drive-thru this year.
Two years ago when we provided the mass vaccination exercise at the old Wal-Mart, we experienced higher costs due to the lower vaccination charge to the public of $15.00 rather than $20.00, the late exercise date (Halloween), new safety needles that retained 0.1 cc. vaccine (meaning that 1 dose per 10 dose vial was lost), and other related logistical issues which the experience has now taught us. As a result of that event, we were financially in red ink.
The health department is the lead agency for these type events, as a matter of mass vaccination, quarantine, etc., the health department would be expected to take the lead due to its authority and community role and ties to other governmental agencies. The Community Mass Vaccination Exercise held two years ago was highly praised for the positive experience expressed by our citizens. The Henderson County Department of Public Health received State recognition last fall and National recognition from the National Association of County and City Health Officials, as well as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Atlanta, Georgia, who invited our staff to co-present with them recently in Nashville TN, at the National Immunization Conference. A publication about the exercise is forthcoming. The CDC has expressed interest to be on hand this fall at our next planned exercise to do further observation and data collection. They tell us we are the community mass vaccination experts.
At last year’s budget hearing, one of the three questions the Board of Commissioners asked was whether they were going to do another mass vaccination exercise. Bottom line this year: without the funds needed up front to purchase the vaccine, they would be forced to scrap the community exercise and limit flu vaccinations to what we have the funds to purchase.
Professional Services #538100 requested $135,000 (new contract $133,994.08) proposed $120,000
This pays for the Medical Director on contract with MAHEC. To be a health services provider paid by Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance, we must have a physician on site 35 hrs. per week. Dr. Diana Curran does provide billable clinic services, but much of her time is spent in supervision and public health matters that are not reimbursable.
Medical Services #538300 requested $38,000 YTD $50,000 proposed $35,000
The state requires the county government to pay for services rendered by the State Medical Examiner. It is Mr. Bridges’ understanding that our health department was given the responsibility by the County to confirm the bills (ex. $1,000 per autopsy) with our vital record deaths. The health department is strictly a conduit for payment, and only a handful of health departments across the state do this. Should we continue to have to draw from our limited budget lines to plug in when the Medical Examiner costs are higher than our budget line item allotted? We don’t request or order autopsies or examinations, and thus, do not have any control over what costs may ensue from year to year. This year the line item budgeted was $35,000, yet the cost for this year to date has reached $50,000. The recommended line for next year is $35,000. Should we cut needed public health services in our other line items and move them to cover for these county obligations?
Contracted Services #539000 requested $60,000 YTD $50,000 proposed $35,500
Medical Waste, janitorial, contract for language interpretation.
SmartStart – Child Care
#547300 Rental of Real Property requested $3,300 proposed $2,000
This office space rental from the Children and Families Resource Center for our two staff (nurse and administrative assistant) is paid entirely from Smart Start funds.
Mr. Bridges stated that the Board’s thoughtful consideration of his introductory remarks and at least these specific budget line items would be appreciated.
Chairman Hawkins raised a question about the Professional Services Line Item and one for the Rental of Real Property, since these appear to be totally paid for by funds other than county funds.
Following some discussion, the County Manager stated that if the Health Department Staff could notify him of what the revenues will be for these two items, then he will appropriate the same amount in expenditures for those items.
There was some brief discussion about Mental Health Reform and possible Public Health Reform by the state.
CONTINUATION OF DEPARTMENTAL OVERVIEWS from previous meeting
Selena Coffey continued with review of the Departmental Overviews with page #29. The following departments were reviewed/discussed:
Board of Elections
Budget & Finance
Tax Collector & Delinquent Tax Collections
Register of Deeds
Transfers from General Fund (skipped until later)
Sheriff & Detention Center (skipped until later)
Animal Shelter (skipped)
Soil & Water Conservation District
Department of Public Health (skipped, already reviewed)
Environmental Health (skipped, already reviewed)
Home & Community Care Block Grant
Spectrum Youth Home (skipped, already reviewed)
Mental Health Services
The Board stopped their budget review at this time.
CLOSED SESSION – add-on
Chairman Hawkins made the motion (at 7:01 p.m.) for the Board to go into closed session as allowed pursuant to NCGS 143-318.11 for the following reasons:
1.(a)(4) To discuss matters relating to the location or expansion of industries or other businesses in the area served by the public body.
All voted in favor and the motion carried.
At 7:26 p.m. the Chairman made the motion to adjourn the meeting. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Elizabeth W. Corn, Clerk to the Board Grady Hawkins, Chairman