STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
COUNTY OF HENDERSON JUNE 14, 2004
The Henderson County Board of Commissioners met for a special called meeting at 7:00 p.m. in the Commissioners' Conference Room of the Henderson County Office Building. The purpose of this meeting was a Joint Meeting with the Fire Departments on the FY 2004-2005 Budget.
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 Corn.
Also present were: County Manager David E. Nicholson, Budget and Management Director Selena Coffey, Assistant County Manager Justin B. Hembree, Fire Marshal Rocky Hyder, and Public Information Officer Chris Coulson.
CALL TO ORDER/WELCOME
Chairman Hawkins called the meeting to order at approximately 7:00 p.m. He requested an addition to the agenda for discussion on the Upward Road Project. Chairman Hawkins made the motion to accept that amendment to the agenda. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Chairman Hawkins reminded the Board that there was scheduled for the following evening a public input session on the proposed Upward Road modifications and reconstructions. He stated that in looking at the maps, one concern was the lack of left hand turning lanes. He wished to notify the NCDOT of the Board’s concern in this area.
Commissioner Moyer stated that he thought the real debate was between a five lane road, and a four lane road with a divided highway. NCDOT had put forth a plan that was a four lane divided highway from Highway 176 to I-26. He felt that was a mistake, and should be changed to a five lane to help traffic flow. He thought the Board should endorse the concept, but suggest it be five lanes from South Allen to I-26 and from Highway 176 to the East Henderson High entrance. Commissioner Messer agreed, stating that the four lane divided highway would kill commercial development in the corridor from South Allen to I-26. Commissioner Young also agreed that it should be a five lane highway from Spartanburg Highway to I-26.
It was the consensus of the Board to deliver some correspondence to the scheduled meeting, address that the Board does have some concerns, and ask that a more in depth look be taken particularly with respect to access before the final plan is finalized.
FIRE ADVISORY COMMITTEE
Lee Roy Nicholson, Chairman of the Fire and Rescue Advisory Committee, presented to the Board copies of the minutes of the budget meeting held with all the fire departments. He also presented the rate schedule for each fire district, and requested the Board approve the presented rates. Mr. Nicholson, Rick Livingston and Rocky Hyder, answered several questions from the Board about fire taxes with respect to the incorporation of Mills River, plans for the future expansion of fire departments, the increasing need for paid firefighters on staff, insurance ratings, and the effect on the Mountain Home Fire Department of the Highway 25 widening.
There was also discussion about the mutual aid agreements between the departments which helps determine which department responds to which type of structure. Henderson County is regarded as being among the top counties in the state with respect to how mutual aid agreements are handled and the working relationships among the departments. Commissioner Young questioned whether the volunteer fire departments were being spread too thin by providing service in the municipalities. Mr. Nicholson answered that the mutual aid agreements prevent such situations from occurring.
There followed discussion about the problem of dwindling people able or willing to be a volunteer firefighter. There was also discussion about how the fire tax rates affect the contracts in place for all the fire departments and the various options the departments might have. Following some additional discussion, it was the consensus of the Board to approve the recommended rate schedule along with the budget.
Lee Roy Nicholson then provided some information on the Rescue Squad. It was formed in 1957, and at that time only about four fire departments had been organized. In 1957 the Rescue Squad provided all types of services, accidents, and search and rescue to name a few. What the Rescue Squad does today is a little different. They provide back up for Henderson County EMS when all units are busy, they provide four wheel drive EMS drivers, provide primary rescue service to areas not covered by someone else, underwater search and rescue, swift water flood rescue, high level rope rescue, wilderness/urban search rescue, medical standby for football, assist law enforcement for traffic control, manhunts, weather related services such as floods or snow, and mutual aid throughout the state.
Because of the number of services being offered by the fire departments, the Rescue Squad is exploring ways to improve the job they do or provide services for Henderson County that the Fire Departments do not. Mr. Nicholson discussed some of those services, such as terrorist attack training, confined space rescue and trench rescue. He also discussed some of the County Departments the Rescue Squad is already working with. For the Rescue Squad to continue their service, they must develop a funding stream that is stable and provides for the growth in the community. Two such options had been identified that did not require additional allocation from the County: a service district tax or through special legislation to establish a special tax district.
Mr. Nicholson and Mr. Hyder answered several questions from the Board on additional funding sources and possible decentralization of their service center. There was also discussion of how billing for services would help offset costs. Chairman Hawkins stated that he knew the Rescue Squad did a lot of backup for EMS and he requested the Committee explore both funding options, determine which was the most feasible and let the Board know. It was the consensus of the Board to have the Committee explore the options and report back to the Board.
There followed additional discussion about duplication of services, the reasons that large fire trucks are sent on medical emergency calls, and why numerous large trucks often respond to minor traffic accidents.
BLUE RIDGE COMMUNITY COLLEGE (BRCC)
Dr. David Sink stated that the purpose of their meeting with the Board was to learn the status of their operating budget request, as well as to request $200,000 for planning money for a technology, education and development center and $100,000 for planning money for a physical education activity center. He stated there were five trends driving the request: more groups enrolling in the college, the change in definition of going to college, change in the student mix, rapidly changing curriculum, community colleges are more affordable.
Present to make BRCC’s request was Board Chairman Joe Spearman, along with Trustees Richard Todd, Fielding Lucas, Mary Ann Engle and Tom Orr. David Hutto, Dean of Technology was also present for discussion on the Technical Education and Development Center. Mr. Hutto stated that the Technical Education and Development Center would be a critical part of the future of the County. He discussed the vision for the facility, a place where students and faculty work together in the same complex to share information and learn from each other. He outlined the various aspects of the planned facility, and explained why teaching the new computer and technology skills to students was so important.
Dr. Sink then spoke to the $100,000 request for planning for the physical education activity center. He explained the college’s need for physical education classes for curriculum and continuing education courses that have a mandatory requirement for physical fitness and/or college credit classes. He also stated the facility could be used by the Public Schools, could provide adult fitness programs, or could be used to host community events.
Mary Ann Engel thanked the Board for her appointment, stating that she had served as a trustee since 1997. She stated that their mission was enriching the lives of those within their reach through education, training and cultural activities. She also noted that she had graduated from BRCC in 1990. She spoke to the impact her education at BRCC had on her life, and discussed a variety of BRCC programs and how they had impacted others. She discussed several awards won by BRCC and other levels of success achieved by the college and it’s students. She requested the Board consider what BRCC had been able to do for the County and the people in the County in the past as it considered BRCC’s future.
Chairman Hawkins questioned the additional faculty members that would be necessary to staff the Technical Education and Development Center. Dr. Sink answered that it would depend on the new programs that would be brought in. He anticipated new faculty members for fuel cell technology, biomedical, corporate security, and perhaps an expansion of the environmental technology program, as well as additional staff for continuing education programs. He estimated 4 – 8 new faculty members, but stressed that funding comes from the State.
Chairman Hawkins stated that this was the first major capital projects discussion he could remember having with Blue Ridge in several years. Tom Orr had suggested a Joint Facilities Committee similar to what is in place with the Board of Education. Dr. Sink stated that he felt that would be a very good idea.
GENERAL FUND AND OTHER FUNDS
Selena Coffey continued with review of the Departmental Overviews with page #64. The following departments/programs were reviewed/discussed:
Rural Operating Assistance Program
Juvenile Justice Grant
Public Schools – with respect to what is currently in the State’s budget for ADM funds, additional
teachers and increases for Henderson County teachers.
Revaluation Reserve Fund
Travel & Tourism Fund
CDBG - Scattered Site Housing Program
Emergency Communications (E911) Fund
CDBG – Parkside Commons Project
CDBG – Highlander Woods Subdivision
Mills River Watershed Protection Project
Solid Waste Fund
Cane Creek Water and Sewer Fund
Justice Academy Sewer Fund
Ms. Coffey distributed a sheet to the Board regarding some changes to the presented Budget. The findings affected the bottom line of the budget $27,300 to the good and came from a wide variety of departments.
CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS PROGRAM
David Nicholson reviewed the following projects proposed in the Capital Improvements Plan summary.
Solid Waste Transfer Station
EMS Southeast Station
EMS Main Office
Jackson Park Improvements
County Services Building
BRCC Gymnasium & Classroom Building
Schools – Series A-C
Mr. Nicholson then discussed the school projects outlining the projects and associated debt:
FY 2004 – 2005 (debt service to be issued in FY 2005 – 2006)
Dana, Phase I $ 5.1 (all figures are in millions)
Hillandale $ 4.7
New Elementary School - land $ 1.5
FY 2005 – 2006 (debt service to be issued in FY 2006 – 2007)
New Elementary School $10.6
Edneyville $ 2.1
Dana, Phase II $ 4.2
Mills River, Phase I $ 3.3
FY 2006 – 2007 (debt service to be issued in FY 2007 – 2008)
Mills River, Phase II $ 3.0
Sheriff’s Department Building (100 N. King Street)
There was further discussion regarding the Recreation Master Plan, and the property tax increase necessary, whether or not through a bond referendum, to complete the funding for the Schools. Mr. Nicholson then discussed the property tax adjustments necessary for the following projects:
Schools FY 2004 – 2005 +1.07¢
Schools FY 2005 – 2006 +2.00¢
Schools FY 2006 – 2007 +1.00¢
BRCC Classroom +1.13¢
BRCC Gymnasium +1.67¢
At 9:46 p.m. Chairman Hawkins made the motion to adjourn the meeting. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Elizabeth Corn, Clerk to the Board Grady Hawkins, Chairman