STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
COUNTY OF HENDERSON MAY 26, 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 Deputy Clerk to the Board Amy Brantley.
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, and Public Information Officer Chris Coulson.
CALL TO ORDER/WELCOME
Chairman Hawkins called the meeting to order at approximately 5:00 p.m.
BLUE RIDGE COMMUNITY COLLEGE (BRCC)
Dr. David Sink introduced several of the Trustees of the College, and called on Trustee Fielding Lucas to present the BRCC budget request. Mr. Lucas spoke to two capital improvement projects: a classroom building – the technology and development center, and a gymnasium building – the physical education activity center. He discussed the reasons for the need for each building and the costs associated therewith. For FY ’04-‘05 BRCC was requesting $1,910,890 for their operating budget, $200,000 for the classroom building (total cost $11,954,843), and $100,000 for the gymnasium (total cost $17,610,284).
Dr. Sink and Mr. Lucas answered several questions for the Board regarding the cost of the buildings, the composition of the gymnasium, and the ability of students to take classes at either the Hendersonville or Brevard campuses. Commissioner Baldwin questioned what he perceived to be perhaps the shifting mission of BRCC from an applied technology school to more of a transfer program. Dr. Sink answered that the College was chartered as a “Comprehensive Community College”, not just a technical school. 80% of the students are currently enrolled in applied technology training while the other 20% are enrolled in the college transfer division. Dr. Sink stated that BRCC had no intention of trying to become a 4-year or liberal arts college. Commissioner Baldwin stated that he believed of the two projects, the classroom building would be the one needed to better move into the 21st century. Dr. Sink stated that the Trustees had studied that issue, but had been unable to prioritize one over the other.
There was then some discussion about the requested operating budget of $1,910,890 and the recommended amount of $1,800,000. Representatives from BRCC indicated that they had not heard the County Manager’s proposed budget, and therefore no discussion of the impact had been held. Commissioner Moyer stated that he thought the Board would need to hear what the impact of a $110,000 reduction would be on BRCC prior to making a decision on that budget. It was the consensus of the Board to have BRCC send some follow-up information on the budgetary impact.
Ervin Bazzle, Chairman of the Henderson County School Board, presented the budget for the coming year. He discussed the use of their Strategic Plan in preparation of their budget, and stated that each budgetary item directly addresses goals the Board and community have set for the schools. Mr. Bazzle addressed the local expense request budget, explaining the items they see as uncontrollable such as salary increases as directed by the State and utility bills. He also discussed the budgetary needs to achieve class size reduction, opening the Balfour Education Center and retention of personnel such as skilled computer technicians.
He then discussed the capital requests. He stated about four years ago a plan had been embarked upon to look at the maintenance and upkeep of the buildings, to which inventory had since been added. He stated that given the square footage present in Henderson County facilities, at $2.3 million they had requested far less than the state suggested level ($4.6 million) or state average ($3.8 million).
Mr. Bazzle stated that he believed the budgets were justified based on what they had seen and the input they had. He noted that there were additional capital needs that had been pushed back. He felt that this budget was the best effort they could make, that it did not meet all the needs of the students, but that it did meet the most critical needs. The presented budget would allow the schools to continue to move forward, even if it was just a small step. He then spoke to the County Manager’s proposal of a bond referendum for some of the schools capital needs.
Mr. Bazzle, School Superintendent Dr. Tom Burnham and members of the School Board answered several questions from the Board on funding for class size reduction and the additional number of teachers allocated to Henderson County based on last year’s enrollment numbers. Commissioner Moyer expressed his belief that the requests should be funded, that the Board should not walk away from the agreed upon projects. Chairman Hawkins stated that the Board was not going to walk away from anything, but must decide how much could be funded each year.
David Nicholson addressed the Board, stating that it doesn’t matter how projects are funded, at some point the Board would have to raise property taxes. He distributed to the Board a breakdown of the effect fully funding the capital projects presented by the school and BRCC would have on property taxes. That effect was a $.04 cent tax increase for FY 05-06, $.02 for FY 06-07 and $.01 for FY 07-08. That was based on all the projects being phased in as a part of the County’s CIP, with no increase for FY 04-05.
PARKS AND RECREATION ADVISORY BOARD
Corum Smith, Chairman of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, thanked the Board for their past support, and for the opportunity to present the Recreation Department’s goals and funding request. He discussed the continuing need for parks in all four geographic areas of the County, and several possibilities for park sites. He requested the Board consider setting aside ˝ cent of the property tax annually for capital improvements in the park system to help meet the County’s increasing needs.
Jeff Donaldson, Advisory Committee member, addressed the Board concerning the effect of a growing population on the demands for recreation programs. He stated that youth baseball, softball and soccer programs have almost 1,000 youth participants each. The park facilities are stretched, and games have had to be scheduled on Sunday because of field usage or lack of lights on some fields. Mr. Donaldson spoke about the recreation services and facilities offered by other counties and municipalities, and discussed the need for additional tennis courts, soccer fields and baseball fields. He also discussed the possible economic benefits to the County if we had the ability to host youth and adult sporting events.
Gary Eblen addressed the Board regarding the need for walking trails and tennis courts. He stated that having such facilities only add to the County’s appeal as a place to work and live, and make it an attractive place for new businesses. He spoke at length to the need for additional tennis courts at Jackson Park and throughout the County.
Rick Harris, Parks and Recreation Director, also spoke to the Board regarding things the department had done to defray costs and generate revenue. He stated they had been operating on the same budget for several years, but they were approaching the point where they needed help maintaining the programs and services currently provided. He stated that with prices constantly going up, each year capital needs are delayed the cost for them will grow. He stated that they apply for many grants, but often don’t have the necessary funds to match.
At 7:00 p.m. Chairman Hawkins made the motion to adjourn the meeting. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Amy Brantley, Deputy Clerk to the Board Grady Hawkins, Chairman