WATAUGA COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2013
The Watauga County Board of Commissioners held a regular meeting on Tuesday, December 17, 2013, at 5:30 P.M. in the Commissioners' Board Room of the Watauga County Administration Building, Boone, North Carolina.
PRESENT: Nathan Miller, Chairman
David Blust, Vice-Chairman
Billy Kennedy, Commissioner
John Welch, Commissioner
Perry Yates, Commissioner
Stacey “Four” Eggers, IV, County Attorney
Deron Geouque, County Manager
Anita J. Fogle, Clerk to the Board
Chairman Miller called the meeting to order at 5:30 P.M.
Due to the size of attendance, Chairman Miller recessed the meeting to Courtroom #1 located in the Courthouse at 842 West King Street, Boone, North Carolina which was next door to the Administration Building.
Chairman Miller reconvened the meeting at 5:44 P.M. in Courtroom # 1.
Vice-Chairman Blust opened the meeting with a prayer and Commissioner Yates led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Approval of Minutes
Chairman Miller called for additions and/or corrections to the December 3, 2013, regular meeting and closed session minutes.
Commissioner Yates, seconded by Commissioner Kennedy, moved to approve the December 3, 2013, regular meeting minutes as presented.
Commissioner Yates, seconded by Commissioner Kennedy, moved to approve the December 3, 2013, closed session minutes as presented.
Approval of Agenda
Chairman Miller called for additions and/or corrections to the December 17, 2013, agenda.
Commissioner Kennedy, seconded by Vice-Chairman Blust, moved to approve the December 3, 2013, agenda as presented.
Cove Creek Preservation and Development (CCP&D) Request
Mr. Jack Simpson representing Cove Creek Preservation and Development (CCP&D), which leases the Old Cove Creek School from the County, shared concerns of drainage issues at the property and requested the County’s help to understand what needed to be done to fix the underlying problems.
County Manager Deron Geouque stated that CCP&D was requesting to use County personnel and equipment to resolve outside drainage issues in the back of the building by re-grading the area to create positive drainage and the removal of one breezeway. It appeared that much of the underneath moisture was attributable to the surface drainage issues in the back of the building. Staff concurred that the surface drainage needed to be addressed but understood that it would be difficult due to the topography of the property. Additionally, the water issues underneath the building could be a result of wet weather springs and would require CCP&D to address during the drying and conditioning of the 9,000 square foot crawl space. Staff would be hesitant to make any guarantees that this work will alleviate the current situation but it would be a step toward the solution of the ongoing drainage issues.
The County Manager stated that the estimated cost to perform the repairs and utilize County staff was approximately $7,000 which included equipment rental, materials and supplies, and construction administration from Mr. Mike Wilson, TOYHSMA Construction Consulting Services. Another option would be for the County to hire an engineer to review the drainage at the site and develop a plan of action. However, the latter option could cost $12,000 for the plan with additional costs depending on the course of action selected.
Commissioner Yates, seconded by Commissioner Welch, moved to approve the allocation of $7,000 from the administrative contingency to cover the estimated cost to perform the repairs and utilize County staff which includes equipment rental, materials and supplies, and construction administration by Mr. Mike Wilson with TOYHSMA Construction Consulting Services.
North Carolina Agricultural Trust Fund Grant Request
Mr. Brian Chatham with Watauga County Soil and Water Conservation stated that his Department along with Cooperative Extension requested authorization to apply for a $36,300 grant from the North Carolina Agricultural Trust Fund. The grant required a fifteen percent (15%) match in cash and/or in-kind services. Mr. Chatham requested to appropriate $3,000 from the multiflora rose program. The Board recently approved $4,000 from the multiflora rose program at the September 17, 2013 meeting for a digital scale/portable head gate. Approximately $3,500 remained unspent in the multiflora rose program funds.
Mr. Chatham stated that Mr. Jim Hamilton, Cooperative Extension Director, proposed the grant match be $3,000 in cash (from the multiflora rose program) and $2,445 from Cooperative Extension and Soil and Water salaries for in-kind services. Due to the grant application deadline of Monday, December 16, 2013, the County Manager authorized submittal of the grant with the understanding that the County could withdraw should the Commissioners not approve the request.
Vice-Chairman Blust, seconded by Commissioner Kennedy, moved to approve the submission of the grant application in the amount of $36,300 to the North Carolina Agricultural Trust Fund with a $5,445 match which included $3,000 in cash (allocated from the multiflora rose program funds) and $2,445 from in-kind services.
Vice-Chairman Blust, seconded by Commissioner Yates, moved to hold the public hearing scheduled for 6:00 P.M. at this time and then continue with remaining agenda items at the completion of the hearing.
Public Hearing to Allow Citizen Comment on the Town of Beech Mountain’s Proposed New Water Intake on the Watauga River
Per Commissioner request, a public hearing was scheduled to seek citizen input on the Town of Beech Mountain’s proposed water intake on the Watauga River. The hearing was advertised and a mailing was sent to potentially affected property owners. Mr. Robert Heaton, Beech Mountain Public Utilities Director, along with consultant, Mr. Lee Spencer, gave an informational presentation on the Town’s proposed water intake project and requested the County’s support of the project. The intake would be located on the Watauga River near Guy Ford Road and a line to transport the raw water to the Town’s treatment plant would also be constructed to serve as a secondary source of water during periods of drought.
Commissioner Yates, seconded by Vice-Chairman Blust, moved to declare the public hearing open at 6:19 P.M. to allow citizen comment on the Town of Beech Mountain’s proposed water intake on the Watauga River.
Chairman Miller stated that each speaker would be given two minutes to share their comments.
The following shared their comments of opposition:
Steven F. Michel
Nate Di Cola
Jean Di Cola
There being no further public comment, Chairman Miller declared the public hearing closed at 7:33 P.M.
Each Commissioner shared their appreciation to those who attended and also shared their thoughts regarding Beech Mountain’s request.
After Commissioner comments, Vice-Chairman Blust, seconded by Commissioner Kennedy, moved not to approve Beech Mountain’s request for support.
A brief recess was called; after which, Chairman Miller reconvened the meeting at 7:51 P.M.
Request to Accept Additional FY 2014 Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) Funds/Contract
Ms. Angie Boitnotte, Project on Aging Director, will request the Board accept a grant for additional funding from the Senior’s Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP). The grant funding would be used to conduct two (2) outreach clinics and the purchase of a new computer for SHIPP volunteers to use. The amount of the grant is $1,739 and does not require a County match.
Commissioner Kennedy, seconded by Commissioner Yates, moved to accept the additional FY 2014 Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIIP) grant funds in the amount of $1,739 and approve the associated contract as presented.
VOTE: Aye-4(Miller, Kennedy, Welch, Yates)
[Clerk’s Note: Vice-Chairman Blust returned from the recess immediately after the above vote was taken. The Vice-Chairman’s vote was considered an “Aye” since he was present for the meeting and had only stepped away momentarily.]
A. Monthly Collections Report
Tax Administrator Larry Warren presented the Tax Collections Report for the month of November 2013. This report was presented for information only and, therefore, no action was required.
B. Refunds and Releases
Mr. Warren presented the following Refunds and Releases for November 2013, including a report from the new motor vehicle billing system, North Carolina Vehicle Tax System (NCVTS) for Board approval:
TO BE TYPED IN MINUTE BOOK
Commissioner Kennedy, seconded by Vice-Chairman Blust, moved to approve the Refunds and Releases Report for November 2013, as presented.
Vice-Chairman Blust, seconded by Commissioner Kennedy, moved to approve the North Carolina Vehicle Tax System Refunds and Releases Report for November 2013, as presented.
Miscellaneous Administrative Matters
A. Proposed Lease for Probation and Parole
County Manager Geouque stated that the State of North Carolina began requiring counties to furnish space at no cost for court-related functions several years ago. Prior to that time, the County was paid rent for Probation and Parole Offices. Even though the County does not currently receive rent, the Department of Public Safety required that a lease be executed detailing the stipulations. Staff requested a revised lease several months prior to the October 30, 2013, expiration date. The County Manager presented a proposed lease which was provided to the County on December 9, 2013.
Chairman Miller questioned the need for a lease due to there not being formal leases with other State Agencies housed, as required, in County-owned facilities.
Commissioner Yates, seconded by Vice-Chairman Blust, moved to table further discussion to allow the County Attorney to research the need for a lease.
B. Resolution Requesting the North Carolina General Assembly Adequately Fund the Cooperative Extensions throughout the State
County Manager Geouque stated that, per Commissioner direction, a resolution was drafted requesting the North Carolina General Assembly recognize the contributions of the Cooperative Extensions throughout the State and fund them at sustainable levels keeping the Extensions viable and vibrant. The Extensions have experienced budget cuts, over the last decade, which have significantly impacted their ability to provide services and support to their communities.
Commissioner Yates, seconded by Commissioner Welch, moved to adopt the Resolution in Support of North Carolina Cooperative Extension Services for Watauga County as presented.
C. Renewal of JLW Enterprises, Inc. Contract for Inmate Care
County Manager Geouque stated that the contract with JLW Enterprises, Inc. for inmate care expired November 30, 2013. The contract was previously with Competent Correctional Care, Inc., however the Board agreed to the assignment of the contract to JLW Enterprises, Inc. as recommended by the Sheriff. The County Manager stated that the Sheriff’s Office had been working on the proposed renewal which included a Consumer Price Index (CPI) increase of four percent (4%). The current monthly contract price of $7,578 would increase to $7,881.12 (equivalent to an additional $303.12 per month). The contract required written notification from both parties to renew the contract for an additional year. The County Manager stated that, although unable to attend, the Sheriff’s Office had recommended the renewal of the contract and adequate funds were in the jail budget to cover the increase.
Chairman Miller instructed staff to request the Sheriff present written contracts for review prior to seeking approval.
Chairman Miller, seconded by Commissioner Yates, moved to enter into an extension of the agreement including a four percent (4%) Consumer Price Index (CPI) increase with the same contract extension to Competent Correctional Care, Inc., substituted to JLW Enterprises, Inc., in a contract drafted by the County Attorney with the exact changes as specified in the motion.
D. Boards & Commissions
County Manager Geouque stated that the terms of Recreation Commission members representing the Blowing Rock, Mabel, and Cove Creek elementary school districts as well as three Town of Boone representatives were set to expire in December. Parks and Recreation Director, Stephen Poulos, has requested recommendations for appointments to fill these positions.
Cove Creek Principal, Toby Cone, wishes to represent the Cove Creek School district.
Blowing Rock Principal, Patrick Sukow, recommends the reappointment of Wendell Ellis as the Blowing Rock School district representative.
Other recommendations will be forwarded for consideration upon receipt.
The above were first readings and, therefore, no action was required.
County Manager Geouque stated that one appointment was needed to the Watauga County Board of Adjustment (which meets infrequently). The two zoned areas of the County (Valle Crucis and Foscoe-Grandfather) must be represented on the Board; traditionally an attempt was made to appoint representatives of watershed protection areas as well. The term of Jane Nicholson has expired and she did not wish to be reappointed. Technically, the available seat was an at-large representative, though Ms. Nicholson also resided in one of the watershed protection areas. Other Board of Adjustment members represent Valle Crucis, Foscoe-Grandfather, Howards Creek watershed, and Middle Fork watershed. The term would be for three years. No applications have been received to date.
Chairman Miller stated that an application had been received from Clinton Coffey for consideration as an Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction member of the Town of Boone’s Board of Adjustment; however, an official recommendation had not yet been received from the Town of Boone.
County Manager Geouque stated that Audrey Tate has resigned from the Social Services Advisory Board with her attendance at the December 18 meeting to end her tenure. Social Services Director, Jim Atkinson, recommended Lynn Jackson Patterson for appointment to fill the unexpired term. Mr. Atkinson has forwarded a volunteer application to Ms. Patterson for her to complete and return.
Consideration of Ms. Patterson was tabled until receipt of a volunteer application.
County Manager Geouque announced that the first regular meeting in January 2014 has been cancelled due to the holiday schedule. Therefore, the only regular meeting of the Board of Commissioners scheduled in January will be held on the 21st at 5:30 P.M.
David Hagaman and Opal Greaybeal had signed up to speak; however, neither was present when called.
Deborah Greene stated that a citizens group had been formed that would work together when rights were under attack.
By unanimous consent, a discussion regarding personnel matters was added to scheduled closed session.
At 8:12 P.M., Commissioner Kennedy, seconded by Commissioner Welch, moved to enter Closed Session to discuss Attorney/Client Matters, per G. S. 143-318.11(a)(3), Land Acquisition, per G. S. 143-318.11(a)(5)(i) and Personnel Matters, per G. S. 143-318.11(a)(6).
Commissioner Yates, seconded by Vice-Chairman Blust, moved to resume the open meeting at 8:33 P.M.
Possible Action After Closed Session
There was no action taken after Closed Session.
Commissioner Kennedy, seconded by Vice-Chairman Blust, moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:33 P.M.
Nathan A. Miller, Chairman
Anita J. Fogle, Clerk to the Board