WATAUGA COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 1999
The Watauga County Board of Commissioners held a regular meeting on Monday, February 1, 1999 at 9:00 A.M. in the Board Room of the Watauga County Courthouse.
PRESENT: Jimmy Hodges, Chairman
Sue Sweeting, Vice-Chairman
James Coffey, Commissioner
Art Kohles, Commissioner
Jack Lawrence, Sr., Commissioner
Jeff Hedrick, County Attorney
Barry J. Reed, County Manager
Libby Link, Clerk to the Board
Chairman Hodges called the meeting to order at 9:00 A.M. welcoming those in attendance.
A moment of silence was observed.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Chairman Hodges called for additions or corrections to the January 19, 1999 regular meeting minutes.
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Kohles, moved to approve the January 19, 1999 regular meeting minutes as presented.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to approve the agenda for the February 1, 1999 regular meeting as presented.
Monthly Collections Report – Tax Administrator, Larry McLean, presented the Tax Collections Report for the month of January, 1999.
Refunds and Releases – Tax Administrator McLean presented the following Refunds and Releases for January, 1999 for Board approval:
TO BE TYPED IN MINUTE BOOK
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to approve the Refunds and Releases Report as presented.
Orthophoto Project Bids – Tax Administrator McLean stated the following bids were received for the Tax Department orthophoto project:
American Geographic Data
Production of 400 scale ortho’s only: $ 53,397.00
Production of 100, 200 and 400 scale ortho’s: $ 99,966.00
Atlantic Technology, Ltd.
Production of 400 scale ortho’s only: $178,542.68
Production of 100, 200 and 400 scale ortho’s $389,796.64
Analytical Surveys, Inc.
Production of 400 scale ortho’s only: $ 56,720.00
Production of 100, 200 and 400 ortho’s: $142,174.00
Mr. McLean recommended the Board approve the purchase of all three scales. He stated American Geographic Data’s current bid of $99,966 would increase to $105,000 if an order was not placed within 60 days. He noted there was $60,000 in a reserve fund for this project, and the additional $40,000 required could come out of next year’s budget. (This project would extend over a 2-year period). Mr. McLean and Land Records Director, Tommy Pitts, had reviewed the bids received and requested the Board approve the low bidder, American Geographic Data, for all three scales.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to approve the American Geographic Data bid of $99,966 for all three scales as requested.
Separate Board of Equalization and Review for 1999 Appeals – Tax Administrator McLean stated that in the past, the Board of Commissioners had served as the County’s Board of Equalization and Review. He added that if the Board wanted to appoint a separate Board it needed to be done by March 1, 1999. In addition, if the Board of Commissioners continued to serve on the Board of Equalization and Review, meeting dates, times and logistics needed to be established at the first regular meeting scheduled for March 1, 1999.
Advertising Liens on Real Estate for all Unpaid 1998/99 Taxes – Tax Administrator McLean requested permission to advertise the report of taxes that were liens on real estate in the County. Mr. McLean stated the total outstanding tax bills amounted to $962,769.75. He added the County was required by law to advertise the liens.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to advertise the outstanding real estate liens.
RESOLUTION SUPPORTING CONSTRUCTION OF US 321
Chairman Hodges stated a letter and resolution had been received from the Caldwell County Board of Commissioners encouraging the N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to expedite the planning, design and construction process for four-laning Highway US 321 from north of Lenoir into Watauga County. Chairman Hodges voiced support for a resolution similar to Caldwell County’s but requested the resolution to include completing construction to the Tennessee State line.
After discussion, Commissioner Coffey seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to forward a resolution to the NCDOT to support the construction on Highway US 321 from the Caldwell County line to the Tennessee State line.
RESOLUTION BOOK #9, PAGE #52
CABLE TELEVISION RATES
Vice-Chairman Sweeting stated a concerned citizen had contacted her about the increase in Helicon Cable Communications’ cable rates. She voiced her concerns that this was the second increase in eight months and that the new rate for super value basic service was $28.90 per month. In addition, she requested the limited basic service be offered to all residents throughout the County. The limited basic service was only allowed for pre-existing accounts. The rate increase for the limited service was $13.45 per month.
Mr. Tony Barlage, Helicon Cable Communications Regional Manager, addressed the Board stating Helicon strived to keep rates reasonable and affordable for all customers (approximately 11-12,000 County subscribers). He noted that Helicon had spent approximately $12-$14 million since the purchase of FrontierVision to incorporate the system. County Manager Reed stated that under FCC law, Helicon could charge up to $1.41 per channel. Although the County no longer had any authority to regulate rates, Vice-Chairman Sweeting requested Helicon provide a more affordable basic rate, and Mr. Barlage stated Helicon would consider her request.
APPOINTMENT TO THE BOONE BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT
County Manager Reed stated the State Legislature had passed a new law which required municipalities to have one alternate from the Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ) on the Boone Board of Adjustment. He received a request from the Town of Boone to appoint Lee Stroupe to the Boone Board of Adjustment to fill this new position. Mr. Stroupe’s three-year term would expire February, 2002.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Commissioner Kohles, moved to appoint Lee Stroupe to the Boone Board of Adjustment for a three-year term.
APPOINTMENT TO THE NORTHWEST ADVISORY COUNCIL OF ADVANTAGE WEST
County Manager Reed stated the Northwest Advisory Council of AdvantageWest was a regional economic development consortium funded by the State. Region D Council of Governments was reorganizing this council and requested a commissioner be appointed to serve. Since Commissioner Coffey was appointed to the Region D Council of Government’s Executive Board, it was suggested that Mr. Coffey serve on this council.
Chairman Hodges seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to appoint Commissioner James Coffey to serve on the Northwest Advisory Council of AdvantageWest.
APPOINTMENT TO THE EMS COMMITTEE
County Manager Reed stated that at the Board’s last regular meeting (January 19, 1999) the Board moved to re-establish the EMS Committee and needed to appoint a commissioner to serve on this committee.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to appoint Commissioner Art Kohles to serve on the EMS Committee.
MISCELLANEOUS ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS
County Manager Reed presented the Department of Social Services’ (DSS) monthly report and boards and commissions with terms that expired in February, 1999 as well as March, 1999. In addition, Mr. Reed stated the League of Women Voters had submitted a resolution on children’s issues and foster care in the County for the Board’s consideration. Vice-Chairman Sweeting stated she had been aware of this issue for the past six-seven months and that apparently there was a "lag time" due to an insufficient number of foster parents in the County. She requested developing a task force to review the number of children who were going out of the County and what could be done to get more people to serve as foster parents. The Board agreed that this task force should include the DSS Director, a DSS Social Worker who served with foster care children, a foster care parent, a representative from the League of Women Voters and DSS Attorney, Diane Griffin. County Manager Reed stated he would have DSS make a basic finding (the number of children leaving the County and methods of recruitment for foster care parents) and report back to the Board at a future meeting.
A recess was declared at 9:38 A.M.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to enter closed session at 10:07 A.M. to discuss: Attorney/Client Matters, Landfill Litigation – G.S. 143-318.11(a)(3).
Commissioner Kohles seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to resume the regular meeting at 11:42 A.M.
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to adjourn the meeting at 11:42 A.M.
Elizabeth H. Link
Clerk to the Board