STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
COUNTY OF HENDERSON SEPTEMBER 20, 2004
The Henderson County Board of Commissioners met for a regularly scheduled meeting at 6:00 p.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 Shannon Baldwin, County Manager David E. Nicholson, Assistant County Manager Justin Hembree, 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, Paralegal Connie Rayfield, Public Information Officer Chris S. Coulson, Fire Marshal/Emergency Management Coordinator Rocky Hyder, Finance Director J. Carey McLelland, and Assistant County Attorney Russell Burrell. Deputy Clerk to the Board Amy Brantley was present through nominations.
Absent was: Commissioner Charlie Messer.
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.
David Nicholson gave the invocation.
David Nicholson updated the Board on some things that happened over the week-end. “We left here Thursday with looking at the projections for the hurricane which seemed to be going west of us and we said well maybe we’re gonna miss the worst part of this event and then I guess late in the evening the Sheriff’s Department called Rocky and said you need to open up the emergency operations center which we did that evening and ran it until today. Just to let the Board know that they actually contacted me about 1:00 on Friday morning. I took the call from Rocky and Terry Layne who were already at the emergency operations center and said ‘We need to be in a position probably to declare a State of Emergency in Henderson County’. I came in, I read the Code real quick to see what I needed to do. Rocky actually already had the forms all ready for me to look at and at 2:00 on Friday morning we declared a ‘State of Emergency’. That was due to clearly the widespread danger that we were having in our community as well as planning for the future as we deal with getting some federal assistance in the community. We approached this storm I guess from two standpoints, one is an operational standpoint and I’ll let Rocky talk a little bit about that from a management standpoint and then we really did feel like this was a good opportunity to really get out a considerable amount of public information about this event which I and Chris Coulson took a strong lead on in the process. We actually started issuing Press Releases as early as 1:25 that morning and up through and including today, trying to keep the public informed of what was happening in the events. There was a substantial amount of road closings, the operation of the shelter, those type of issues across the community. I’ll remind you very quickly that we had roughly half of Henderson County who was at least a minimum was without power because of this event, if not a higher percentage. We had some flooding, not a lot of flooding, but we had some flooding in areas that we would have expected to have flooding in there but because of the substantial wind sheers that were associated with this event, we had a lot of road coverage with trees and then we learned as we went through the morning that more and more we were having damage to people’s homes and of course the Board knows that this was a very tragic storm including the loss of life. The folks of course came in and we got the shelters up and operating, trying to give people a place to go if their homes were damaged and we operated of course a shelter initially at First Baptist Church with the hope that we could get their power turned on very quickly. Unfortunately we were told by Duke Power that was not going to happen and we eventually moved that shelter to, working with the school system, to Upward Elementary School. We kept the shelter opened here across the street at the American Red Cross Chapter for a considerable amount of time trying to deal with issues associated with any kind of special needs but most of those folks were able to take care of themselves. We were complicated ourselves with all of a sudden with the lack of water pumping in the Hendersonville system. We were having to deal with trying to help Hendersonville get out information about boiling water. We were dealing with food safety issues, trying to get out information about food safety and dealing with the fact that the power had been off for several days. We were pleased to be able to host Senator Dole for a few hours, who came to the shelter at Upward Elementary School and then we were able to take her out to show her some damage and at that point in time we had not been declared a Federal Disaster Area and so we … to her to ask her to ensure that that was what happened and it did the very next day.
I would say to you, come yesterday we were in a position of really trying to deal with reassuring the community that people were out there working. We were starting to hear from folks ‘Well no one’s out there and my power’s not on. What do I do?’ those type of issues so we kinda went into a reassuring mode, trying to deal with getting information from Duke Power and Progress Energy to get out to the community to let people know that there was a substantial amount of effort going on to do and then kind of change into how are we going to handle the debris that is substantial across our community and in talking with FEMA as of yesterday. I did want to mention, although I would say to the Board, there were too numerous groups of people than really to mention across the community who stepped up and helped with the issue. One of the things I was very impressed on is I heard over and over where their own communities, neighborhoods put together debris teams, people with chainsaws would help each other. They would help each other get debris off their houses. It’s just good to live in a community where that happened but from the standpoint of the shelter, the Red Cross assisted of course with that process. Some of the fire departments, just by natural right operated shelters although Bat Cave had a formal shelter but many of the fire departments took people in during the process. I mentioned the First Baptist Church to you. When we have a shelter like this we rely upon those folks from the Red Cross but we also rely on our own staff. The Board needs to recognize the fact that both Social Services and the Health Department staffed those shelters on a 24 hour basis to assist, to give people assistance in need so we appreciate the work of Public Health and Social Services. There were also representatives from the Sheriff’s VIP, a group who also helped with those. We couldn’t appreciate more what the school system did, they besides feeding folks at the shelter, they fed just general people in the community who just needed a hot meal and then I think we eventually fed a number of the workers in the process. Of course, a lot of folks responded from the standpoint of emergency, Bell South, Duke Power brought in well over 1,000 extra folks to work in the community. If you were that morning listening to, you know one or two o’clock in the morning listening to radio and listening to the fine work that our Fire Departments and the Rescue Squad was doing in the community. We are just absolutely blessed to have those folks out there working on a daily basis but you really take notice of them as part of this process. Of course EMS, the Sheriff’s Department and those folks. The public works departments in the cities were just great to work with. I will tell the Board we were able to, working with what used to be the State Forest Service, I guess the Forest Resources now I believe, they coordinated a number of DOC and Department of Corrections inmates to come in and help with debris removal yesterday, trying to get and Duke Power assigned a person to go with each one of those crews so they could see if a line was hot, to be able to start cutting down the road which was pretty substantial so. I’ll let Rocky from a standpoint of what he did and what he saw and operational standpoint, Rocky, and where we’re going, where we are now and where we’re going in the future Rocky.”
Rocky Hyder, Emergency Management Coordinator, “Certainly I can’t say enough about the efforts by all involved, our emergency services, our county staff, clearly the business community really came through for us in helping us resolve some logistical problems, especially with feeding people, housing people. We set up several distribution points for water and things like that to help people that are out of power, maybe on wells and things like that. Cason Companies came through to help us deliver that water because when you receive shipments and palletized bulk shipments you gotta have a way to handle that and the schools helped us with unloading those vehicles at their facility and then they really chipped in to help us deliver that because they’ve got the equipment to do that with. So that was an outstanding effort there as well as our State resources that came in and helped us. We, as late as today, we actually had the last crew working in the Town of Laurel Park trying to restore some type of transportation system and power to that particular area. They were tremendously hard hit just because of their geographical challenges they have. You know they’ve got this mountain that kinda juts up right out of the middle of the City and they certainly took the brunt of a lot of the winds that were associated with this so I certainly want to say a big thank you to all of those people.
As far as where we’re going – we are entering what we refer to as the recovery stage so that people are trying to get their lives back together as power consistently is restored throughout the county. People are assessing the damage and trying to deal with the issues that affected them personally or their community. So tomorrow morning we’re gonna have an applicant’s briefing for all the public assistant agencies, that would be the county and all the municipalities within those counties and we’ve already started efforts to make sure that people are aware of the 800 number to call for individual assistance so if your home has been damaged or you’ve received some type of damage as a result of either Hurricane Frances or Ivan, you can call 1-800-621-FEMA and start the application process there. I am currently trying to have a disaster assistance center as well established in Hendersonville for those people; however, that will not forego the necessity of calling the 1-800 number to begin the application process so right now the word to me is because of the three disasterous storms that have hit Florida and worked up through this area, they’re kinda short on staff to open these disaster assistance centers and they’re trying to do as much as they can electronically. So that’s what we’re working on at this point as far as individual and recovery from the public perspective. We anticipate working through that for quite some time.”
David Nicholson – “We’ll be, as Rocky said, tomorrow getting up with FEMA and having a discussion about some of those issues of particularly some of the debris clean-up. One of the things that I wish to ask the Board tonight is from a standpoint of debris, NCDOT will pick up the debris that is along the highways and they will bring it to our facility where we will eventually – we’ll bring a tub grinder in but we’re gonna have a lot of individuals who will – who are going to be coming to our solid waste facility over the next couple of weeks and would – one of the things that we’ve talked about is whether or not it would be appropriate for us to – not to charge those people for the next – at least for a two-week time frame and then re-look at it again. We’ll be in a position, we hope, after tomorrow’s conversation to tell you that we think we can get reimbursed for solid waste fees for that through FEMA but we don’t know that today. To be perfectly honest with you. That’s a question we’ll answer tomorrow but we – our community has already started asking ‘how do we get these materials out of our place, where can we take them to’ and I’d like to see us be proactive on this issue and go ahead and – for what is clearly storm debris, not other C & D landfill stuff that needs to be dealt with in the C & D landfill, but for the brush clearly coming from the storm, is not to charge individuals. We’ll track it and we’ll know what it is and hope that FEMA will reimburse that cost to us but at this point in time I’d ask the Board to allow us for a period of two weeks to – and then we can update you at your next Commissioners’ Meeting about what the status of that is and whether or not we need to continue it past a two-week time frame, if that’s the Board – the Board agrees to that, we’ll certainly get out that information as quickly as we possibly can and hopefully even as early as tomorrow’s paper to let people know that they can bring it to the landfill – if that’s – if you allow us to do that. It’s the same thing we did when we had the ice storm, we had a substantial amount of brush and damage and we did that and I think the community accepted it very well so.”
Commissioner Baldwin asked Mr. Nicholson to go into more detail as to what he means by materials as a result of the flood.
Mr. Nicholson answered that he meant brush and limbs. We grind those and will have mulch available. We will have to continue to charge for C & D (construction and demolition) materials because we will have to either bury them or haul them off.
Chairman Hawkins made the motion to accept brush and debris associated with wood debris (limbs, trees, tree trunks, and brush) at no charge, for a period of two weeks and asked the County Manager to pursue reimbursements from FEMA on that. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
The above motion is for private individuals that bring these items into the landfill in a non-commercial vehicle. Mr. Nicholson stated that they would have to word this very carefully in the newspaper.
Chairman Hawkins commended everyone for the action they took in a timely manner. He stressed that under the County Manager form of government, when there is an emergency to be declared that is a function of the County Manager. Some different organization structures may have the Board of Commissioners involved to a certain extent but that’s not the way our system is set up.
The County has a plan which was executed very well. Chairman Hawkins reminded everyone that the Board was presented a Hazardous Mitigation Plan in December of 2003. Part of that Plan was the Floodplain Insurance. He stated that there are about 14,000 acres in Henderson County that are in the 100 year floodplain. Of that 14,000 acres, about 5,000 of it is in the municipalities, leaving about 9,000 acres in the county. We have about 626 residential dwellings in the floodplain and about 76 commercial areas. Henderson County does not have current floodplain maps, they are more than 20 years old. We’ve been trying to work with the State to update our floodplain map. The State starting redoing the floodplain maps in the eastern part of the State and are now working in the Piedmont part of the State.
Chairman Hawkins informed those present that Commissioner Messer would not be present at the meeting this evening as he is dealing with a weather-related death in the family.
DISCUSSION/ADJUSTMENT OF AGENDA
Chairman Hawkins asked what the pleasure of the Board was regarding closed session. Some members had expressed desire to have that discussion when we have a full Board present.
Following some discussion, Chairman Hawkins made the motion to accept the agenda except delete the closed session. A vote was taken which passed three to one with Commissioner Baldwin voting nay.
Chairman Hawkins made the motion to approve the consent agenda except for “B – Tax Collector’s Report”.
We have not received the Tax Collector’s Report. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Draft minutes were presented for the Board’s review and approval of the following meeting(s):
August 18, 2004, regular meeting
Tax Collector’s Report
The report had not been received.
Stan Duncan, County Assessor, had presented a list of forty (40) tax release requests for the Board’s approval.
CDBG – Fair Housing Plan
Staff had presented documentation for the Board’s approval for the Howard Gap Waterline CDBG (community development block grant). These were updates for the County’s Fair Housing Plan as approved in recent years.
The County Manager requested that the Board authorize the Chairman to execute the prepared documents.
Water Line Extension for Edneyville Fire & Rescue Department, Inc.
The City of Hendersonville had requested County comments on a proposed water line extension to serve the Edneyville Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department on US 64 East. The project would extend a water line from the existing water line on US 64 East into the fire station property. A fire hydrant will be installed near the fire station building.
The City of Hendersonville’s Project Summary sheet and a County review sheet with staff comments for the project were included for review and action.
Notification of Vacancies
The Board was notified of the following vacancies which will appear on the next agenda for nominations:
1. Blue Ridge Community College Board of Trustees – 1 vac.
2. Community Child Protection Team – 6 vac.
3. Environmental Advisory Committee – 1 vac.
4. Henderson County Planning Board – 1 vac.
5. Juvenile Crime Prevention Council – 1 vac.
6. Library Board of Trustees – 1 vac.
7. Western Highlands LME – 1 vac.
Chairman Hawkins reminded the Board of the following vacancies and opened the floor to nominations:
1. Environmental Advisory Committee – 1 vac.
There were no nominations at this time so this item was rolled to the next meeting.
2. Hendersonville Board of Adjustment – 1 vac.
There were no nominations at this time so this item was rolled to the next meeting.
3. Juvenile Crime Prevention Council – 4 vac.
There were no nominations at this time so this item was rolled to the next meeting.
4. Mountain Area Workforce Development Board – 4 vac.
Chairman Hawkins nominated Phil Webb for position #3, Paul Keating for position #1, and Richard Raube for position #5. There were no other nominations. Chairman Hawkins made the motion to accept these nominees by acclamation. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
5. Planning for Older Adults Block Grant Advisory Committee – 3 vac.
The County Manager requested that the Board consider appointing William (Bill) Crisp who is the Director of Apple Country Transportation.
Chairman Hawkins placed Mr. Crisp’s name in nomination for position #14. There were no other nominees. Chairman Hawkins made the motion to accept Mr. Crisp by acclamation. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
6. Senior Volunteer Services Advisory Council – 1 vac.
There were no nominations at this time so this item was rolled to the next meeting.
7. Solid Waste Advisory Committee – 1 vac.
There were no nominations at this time so this item was rolled to the next meeting.
Cable Franchise Renewal Advisory Committee Charter
The franchise with Mediacom will expire in September of 2006. In March of this year, Mediacom and the Board of Commissioners agreed to proceed with negotiations concerning the franchise on an informal basis, with the understanding that either party could invoke the formal process at any time.
Included for the Board’s review was a proposed charter outlining the responsibilities of a cable franchise renewal advisory committee, and a proposed informal renewal process.
Henderson County and each of the municipalities (with the exception of Mills River for the time being) has its own, stand-alone franchise with Mediacom. Henderson County’s franchise only governs provision of cable television to persons residing within the unincorporated areas of Henderson County (again with the exception of Mills River). Each municipality will negotiate their own franchise with Mediacom. For this reason the prepared charter has the committee working with those municipalities requesting assistance with their public education campaign and public input related to the needs of the stakeholders within their municipalities, but not with the renegotiation of their franchises.
The Board should be aware that the proposed charter contains no directive to the committee to investigate rates or programming, as these are two areas over which the County has little to no authority over.
The County Manager recommended that the Board approve the prepared charter and process.
Discussion included members feeling that the Board of Commissioners should appoint six members instead of five to the Advisory Committee. Chairman Hawkins made the motion to accept the Charter and the process and that the Board appoint six members from the un-incorporated area of the county. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
PARDEE HOSPITAL – Annual Report
Bob Goodwin, CEO of Pardee, came forward. He echoed the comments about the expertise and training of Mr. Rocky Hyder and many others in the community and how incredibly the hospital benefited by them. He also praised the staff at Pardee for handling their jobs in healthcare while dealing with personal storm problems. There was a huge increase in the number of persons coming through the emergency room, with both storm related injuries as well as chronic medical conditions who were without power and without support.
He presented the “2004 Hospital Annual Report”. The Board had actually received the notebooks about a week ago for their review.
Mr. Goodwin touched on some of the highlights of progress made in the past year:
Opened the helideck on top of the new ER construction
They have submitted and been approved for four additional operating rooms
They became a smoke-free campus last year
They celebrated the 50th anniversary of Pardee (1953-2003)
They opened the new Urgent Care Center in the old Wal-Mart shopping center
They moved the outpatient rehabilitation services to the new Urgent Care Center
They opened a new Urgent Care Center in Fletcher
They had their cancer services program reaccredited and added computerized technologies
They began a valet parking system
Are working on a move for the main EMS station from Pardee
Mr. Goodwin also mentioned a few challenges facing Pardee (and other healthcare facilities):
A continued increase in population with a particular emphysis on upper age patients
Mental Health Reform (behavioral health) – this is probably the number one challenge for 2004 and beyond
He stated that Pardee continues to remain one of the strongest hospitals in Western North Carolina. They have a very positive relationship with their tertiary referral source at Mission. The hospital continues to be a successful entity.
Mr. Goodwin introduced Pam Boer, Vice-President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer for Pardee, to discuss numbers. She briefly reviewed some items in the September 2003 Audit. Due to GAZBY 14 the Auxiliary had to be considered as a blended component unit of the hospital. That changed the net assets and increased them by $316,000. She stated that the Hospital Foundation is a blended component unit, as they were last year.
The hospital and its units generate over $104,500,000 in net revenues but due to the increased expenses in benefits, employee expenses, malpractice insurance, and the cost of the uninsured patients, net assets this year only increased by $1,600,000. Bad debt and charity care increased by 43% from one fiscal year to the next, from $8,300,000 to $11,900,000. The debt from the 2001 revenue bond that was floated of $15,300,000 has come down to about $14,800,000 and they are still experiencing an excellent variable interest rate of 1.1% as of September 30, 2003.
Ms. Boer then addressed the budget for fiscal year 2005. In the budget their gross revenue is $234,000,000 with a net revenue of $117,900,000. That’s a 5% price increase and a 3% volume increase expected. The SNF or Skilled Nursing Facility revenue went down by $2,900,000. She explained that is not really a decrease in the revenue but rather the Pardee Care Center Lane Wing at the hospital is going to move out to the Pardee Care Center this year. The budget reflects the change, a reallocation from one line item to the next. Bad debt and charity care is expected to increase again to essentially $14,100,000 from the $13,200,000 they expect this year. The payer mix continues to change, Medicare patients increase and that is not as lucrative of a payer mix as the commercial. Also the self pay or private pay patients continue to increase. They continue to maintain a good financial position with low debt with no financial contribution from the county. Their mission is excellence close to home and they are abiding by that.
Both Mr. Goodwin and Ms. Boer were present to answer questions.
INFORMAL PUBLIC COMMENTS
1.Mary Singleton – Ms. Singleton stated that she experienced going to Pardee Hospital today and having valet parking which she felt was wonderful.
She is a retired educator with the Henderson County Public School system. She spoke about school policy for children in the special needs programs and how the programs relate to the “No Child Left Behind” federal guidelines. She felt a need for the Board of Public Education to amend their policies regarding these children. She felt that some children in the Henderson County Public Schools are being treated unfairly. Ms. Singleton stated that Dr. Stephen Page, new School Superintendent, inherited this problem and is in no way part of it.
PARTNERSHIP FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT – Report
Scott Hamilton, from the Chamber of Commerce, presented this report to the Board by Power Point Presentation but also distributed a hard copy to each Commissioner. The Partnership for Economic Development is the Economic Development Division of the Greater Hendersonville Chamber of Commerce.
He recognized Chip Gould, Immediate Past Chair of the Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development; Bob Williford, President of the Greater Hendersonville Chamber of Commerce; and Kyle Edney, Project Coordinator for Economic Development. They were all in attendance.
He broke this down through some of the components identified through the Lockwood Green Report and how they are responding.
They have continued to be very proactive in North Carolina Economic Developers Association (NCEDA) He serves on the statewide board and co-chairs the legislative committee.
They have participated in the Legislative Reception where they invited all the members of the General Assembly to a reception through NCEDA in Raleigh.
EDAC is the Economic Developers Advisory Council through Advantage West (the Regional
Economic Development Commission). They have instituted a Planning Retreat. Two were held over the past 2 years where the local developers provide information and ideas for their plan of work for each of their fiscal years.
EDAC Mission to Raleigh. They travel to Raleigh once or twice a year, host meetings with the Western North Carolina Legislative delegation, the North Carolina Department of Commerce and have professional development seminars while in Raleigh.
They have continued to work with the commercial Realtors in Henderson County and regionally in Buncombe County regarding available buildings/sites.
This was an important issue within the Lockwood Green Study. The challenges we faced were a lack of product, lack of industrial buildings, available industrial sites. Currently we have 29 industrial buildings on our available building inventory on our website and we have 23 sites. In the last six months they added 11 buildings but have removed 7 of those (7 buildings taken out of service, either they had been filled or sold or they were no longer available). They added two sites and also removed one because of someone purchasing the site.
Continued work to identify appropriate and available industrial sites and buildings.
Aerial Marketing Photographs – they have taken aerial photos of available industrial buildings and sites in the county. They are working with the Division of Community Assistance and the North Carolina Department of Commerce on developing them into marketing material.
They continue to make update on their websites.
They are working on doing an upcoming building tour for partnership members and the Board of Commissioners to tour and see what buildings are available in Henderson County.
Another main component, along with recruiting new industry, is working with the existing industry.
They have visited with 13 existing manufacturers in Henderson County this year. (They operate on a calendar year). They visited with Continental Teves, Skyline Plastics, G.E. Lighting, Kimberly Clark, Wilson Arts, Selee, PorVair.
When Mills River was looking at their zoning, the change in zoning was going to impact a couple of industries. They worked with them to make sure that they were not negatively impacted on potential growth or if the facility was sold that it could continue to operate as a manufacturing concern.
They have worked with another existing business – Immaculate Baking – on being sure that they had a correct SIC or Standardized Industrial Classification Code for them to be eligible to receive tax credits through the State for their growth and investment in machinery and equipment and the potential for adding jobs.
This year Chairman Leonard initiated moving their Board Meetings around to different manufacturers. Their Board meets every other month and so far this year they’ve held Board Meetings at Wilson Art, General Electric, and Arvin Meritor. The October Board Meeting will be at Continental Teves. This has proved to be very positive, both with manufacturing and the Board, to be able to get them into these concerns to see what is going on or how these industries impact our community and the positive affect that they have.
He compared 2003 totals to 2004 totals:
In 2003 they had 103 inquiries and have had 110 this year already. This does not include web inquiries.
In 2003 they worked with 9 projects and have already worked with 11 this year.
In 2003 The Warm Company was announced with a $3,000,000 investment, 16 jobs saved and 6 new jobs. This year the Spearman Furniture/Foods announced with a $1,000,000 investment, 1 jobs saved and 4 new jobs. Pepsi has decided to locate their new warehouse and distribution center in Henderson County with $6,000,000 investment and a transfer of 115 jobs.
Continued follow-ups – are continuing to work with 39 companies.
They have done targets Direct Mail Pieces.
They have developed a Buildings/Sites publication.
They will be contacting 985 companies in three different states in Medical Device Manufacturing and Automotive Component Manufacturing to find out their interest level of a new project, expansion, or relocation.
They’ve worked with the State Chamber of Commerce (NCCBI) on an insert and community profile of Henderson County and the development of a couple more marketing brochures and their award winning series of marketing brochures.
They have attended a number of different trade shows in partnership and collaboration with their allies AdvantageWest.
They have attended a Medical Device Manufacturing Show in the East and the West (2 different shows).
He participated with NC Dept. of Commerce on a European Mission Trip. During that mission he called on a client that is currently considering Henderson County as a location.
Carolina West, a sub-regional organization in marketing that works in partnership with the bigger region Advantage West, have done a number of different call missions to the Detroit area. He leaves this week-end to go to Toronto to follow-up on a number of calls they made last year.
They will also attend the Canadian Manufacturing Week Trade Show and have set appointments with exhibitors at that Trade Show.
Kyle will be participating in early October with Advantage West at the Interbike Trade Show (International Bicycle Expo.). One of their target markets is the outdoor recreational equipment manufacturer.
Mr. Hamilton briefly discussed their website and the continued growth of it. As of October 2003 they experienced about 3,000 hits. As of July of 2004 they have experienced about 5,500 hits.
Mr. Hamilton briefly reviewed a graph on unemployment in Henderson County. In 1999 at the height of good productivity we had an unemployment rate of 2.3%. In 2000 as we started going into a recession it dropped down to 2.1%. In 2001 it jumped to 3.3%. In 2002 it jumped up to 4.2%. In 2003 it dropped down to 3.8%. In July of 2004, for the month it was 2.9%. The 2004 average year to date unemployment rate was 3.3%. The unemployment rate on an average basis is beginning to fall and come back down to numbers we are more used to seeing.
Commissioner Baldwin questioned how the State averages compare to ours. Mr. Hamilton stated for the past two or three months the State has fallen below the national unemployment average. For the three years of the economic downturn or recession North Carolina’s unemployment rate exceeded the national average. The past two or three months it has been below the national average and it held steady at the same rate it was last month. He explained that Henderson County has continued to be below the State average. Our unemployment rate never exceeded the state unemployment rate. Henderson County’s rate historically has always been low compared to the state and it continues to be.
As of July 2004 the available labor force in Henderson County was 44,784 total. The average annual manufacturing wage is $40,924 yearly and $19.68 hourly. Mr. Hamilton explained that the total number of NC unemployed workers in July 2004 were 211,068 and this number was down from 231,162 in June 2004.
He reviewed the number of Henderson County manufacturing jobs (yearly):
2004 Data Not Yet Available
The amount of unemployment insurance paid out in NC yearly was:
2001 944 million
2002 1.21 billion
2003 1.20 billion
The total unemployment insurance collected over the last 12 months was $803 million but $1.05 billion was paid out.
Mr. Hamilton explained that they have a main domain for their web site which is gohendersoncountync.org and then they have numerous other domain names. They can put the different domain names in their advertisements and be able to track which ones people are visiting.
Mr. Hamilton thanked the Board for their support of the Chamber’s efforts through the Lockwood Greene Study, getting that going, the implementation of that, and the funding of that. The Chamber has made significant strides and are a very proactive organization. The private sector has stepped up and been very gracious to help offset the costs so the county itself doesn’t have to pick up all that cost.
There was some discussion about the Board getting really serious about trying to recruit and taking a more proactive role in having a partnership where we end up controlling some of the sites.
DSS – Request for Positions
At a budget workshop earlier this year, Social Services presented a request for additional staff and legal services to the Board of Commissioners. Since no funds were appropriated for these needs, the DSS Director stated he would review the budget allocation to determine if funds could be moved within the allocation to fund these important needs.
DSS Director, Liston Smith, was present and informed the Board that he had made a recommendation to the DSS Board, who approved the funding plan, which will enable establishing 8.5 child protective social work positions and provide for additional legal services.
New State funds have been allocated to Henderson County to fully cover the costs of four positions.
No additional County funds were requested to cover the other 4.5 positions. These funds are within the Work First Block Grant and made available by reallocating funds from Work First to Child Protective Services.
Since the implementation of Work First, the level of service demand for Work First has decreased 69% while the level of service demand for child protective services has increased 103%. By statute, child protective services are a “total agency responsibility” and the number one agency mandate. A significant growth in level of service demand is evidenced by a 20% increase in community referrals and 113% increase in the number of children in foster care. This trend, primarily due to parent use of methamphetamine, is anticipated to continue. This increased legal demand would necessitate an additional staff person in the Henderson County Legal Department.
The County Manager supported the request from the Department of Social Services (DSS) and recommended that the Board approve this request.
Following some discussion, Chairman Hawkins made the motion to approve these positions as requested. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
AMENDMENT – Animal Services Ordinance – First Reading
Tom Bridges, Director of Public Health, was requesting authority to respond to injured animal calls. Several years ago, the Animal Control Department responded to these calls; however, they have not provided this service for the past few years. The Public Health Department wishes to again respond to these animals.
A local non-profit provided these services in the interim.
Staff had provided a prepared amendment to Chapter 66A of the Henderson County Code which provides for a change in our regulations. They also provided a copy of the former internal procedures for handling these calls. Mr. Nicholson reviewed these documents with the Board.
The County Manager recommended that the Board approve this amendment. Since this is a “police power” ordinance, it can be approved this evening with a unanimous vote. If not, it will again be presented at a future meeting.
Mr. Bridges was not in attendance. The Board had some question for Mr. Bridges concerning the internal policies. This item will be placed back on the agenda for the next meeting for the second reading and action.
Following discussion, Commissioner Moyer requested the Board get something in writing from Mr. Bridges with respect to the impact on the budget regarding this issue.
COUNTY SERVICES BUILDING
At the Board of Commissioners meeting of September 7, 2004, the Board discussed concerns from several departments over the lack of growth within the facility and parking.
Mr. Nicholson presented a chart that staff developed that showed the number of parking spaces needed for the facility. The chart shows the current positions and the number of already planned growth positions (these are for future staff but we have already designed office spaces). The chart then subtracts 80% of the time for employees that are primarily in the field and fully subtracts employees that are out-posted at other facilities. The net number of staff spaces, including the planned growth, is 238. According to the parking plan, there is a minimum of 373 spaces with the possibility of going to 390 spaces. This means that at a minimum there would be 135 spaces for customers throughout the day.
The Board also requested that representatives from Calloway, Johnson, Moore & West (CJMW) review the project schedule. The Board was given a letter from CJMW concerning this issue. It appears that they believe that the schedule that they presented to the Board in April can only be slightly altered.
Mr. Nicholson reminded the Board that this building will need to be financed in 2005 since we have no additional funds budgeted for debt service. He recommended that we need to develop a larger financing package that includes the other projects included in the Capital Improvement Plan. This financing package would include Dana Elementary – Phase 1, Hillandale Elementary, land for a new elementary school and the County Services Building. By combining these projects into one financing effort, we will save on the issuance cost.
There was considerable discussion concerning parking with Mr. Nicholson reviewing a position analysis for the departments that will be located in the new building broken down into:
Mr. Nicholson, Carey McLelland, and Angela Beeker plan to go to an LGC (Local Government Commission) meeting to discuss financing on September 28. They plan to talk to them about how to put this financing package together because the school projects are multi-year projects.
Commissioner Baldwin asked potential incoming Commissioner Chuck McGrady to come to the podium and give his opinion of the issue.
Commissioner Baldwin – “Chuck, based on what you’ve heard here this evening, what are your thoughts on the numbers with respect to this facility?”
Chuck McGrady – “I share Mr. Moyer’s concerns generally about the parking. I understand the math but I share those concerns and with respect to the expansion issue, I haven’t looked at all the departments. I do serve on the DSS Board and you’ve just approved a number of new positions in DSS which will fill in some of the places that are – some place holders in DSS and again assuming that the building takes another year or two to complete. My understanding from the discussion we had at the DSS Board meeting was that we would anticipate that pretty much all the space that is present in the present plan would be filled up to that point in time . Now there is a large unallocated slot that my guess we ought to go ahead and build out a little bit more and I think DSS in a letter before your last meeting asked for a designation of some of that unallocated spot to DSS. I can’t speak to the – you know I haven’t spoken to the Health Department Board or any of the others and know whether they are in the same position that DSS is but I would suggest that at the very least when they put together the plans with respect to the Social Services Department that they in fact add more space there for expansion. I have talked to one or two of the Health Department Board members and they raise the same issue but you’ve got a mixture of Health Department Board, some new people, and it’s unclear to me you know where the Health Department Board is at this time. They have told me they had not seen the plans so I don’t know – you know I don’t know if they’re in a position to judge that. We have, that is the Social Services Board.”
Chairman Hawkins called a short technical break to change videotapes.
Chairman Hawkins called the meeting back to order.
There continued to be some discussion regarding the site plan and the parking issue as well as planned growth space.
Commissioner Young raised the question of what the cost would be to raise another floor on this building just as an open space to be developed at a future date.
Alan McGuinn, one of the architects on the project, stated that he didn’t have the figure but could approximate that it would cost about half the cost you would normally spend in upbidding or about $50 a square foot.
Commissioner Young stated that there could be additional parking across the Old Spartanburg Highway. He stated he would like to think we’re building a building with the space we will need to have for the next 50 years.
The Board reviewed their calendar.
The County Manager informed the Board that the LGCCA meeting scheduled for tomorrow, has been canceled. There were no additions or changes to the calendar.
CANE CREEK WATER & SEWER DISTRICT – no business
There being no further business to come before the Board, Chairman Hawkins adjourned the meeting.
Elizabeth W. Corn, Clerk to the Board Grady Hawkins, Chairman