WATAUGA COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
TUESDAY, MAY 23, 2000
The Watauga County Board of Commissioners held a regular meeting on Tuesday, May 23, 2000 at 7:00 P.M. in Courtroom #1 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
Robert E. Nelson, Jr., County Manager
Libby Link, Clerk to the Board
Chairman Hodges called the meeting to order at 7:00 P.M. welcoming those in attendance.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Chairman Hodges called for additions or corrections to the May 8, 2000 regular and closed session meeting minutes as well as the May 18, 2000 special meeting minutes.
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to approve the May 8, 2000 regular and closed session meeting minutes and the May 18, 2000 special meeting minutes as presented.
APPROVAL OF MAY 23, 2000 AGENDA
County Manager Nelson requested an additional matter to be discussed in Closed Session pursuant to G.S. 143-318.11(a)(6) – Personnel Matters.
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to approve the May 23, 2000 agenda with the amendment as requested.
PUBLIC HEARING – EXTENSION TO THE BOONE FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
Chairman Hodges declared a public hearing open at 7:03 P.M. to consider an extension to the Boone Fire Protection District.
Planning & Inspections Director, Joe Furman, addressed the Board stating that the Boone Fire Department had received petitions from individuals who resided directly across from Heavenly Mountain (Little Laurel Road) requesting that their parcels of land be added to the Boone Rural Fire Protection District. Mr. Furman noted that a public hearing was required per general statutes (NCGS 153A-303(d). In addition, this extension required the approval of the current provider of fire protection, Stewart Simmons Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) per G.S. 69-25.11(2). Although Stewart Simmons VFD had not approved this request, Mr. Furman recommended the Board proceed with the public hearing but take no action until the matter was resolved with Stewart Simmons VFD.
Ms. Peggy Palms and Ms. Joyce Miller (two of the three petitioners) addressed the Board supporting this request.
There being no further public comment, Chairman Hodges declared the public hearing closed at 7:08 P.M.
No action was taken.
PUBLIC HEARING – AMENDMENT TO THE ORDINANCE TO REGULATE SUBDIVISIONS & MULTI UNIT STRUCTURES
Chairman Hodges declared a public hearing open at 7:09 P.M. to consider an amendment to the Ordinance to Regulate Subdivisions & Multi Unit Structures.
Planning & Inspections Director, Joe Furman, stated that the Planning Board had requested the Board of Commissioners conduct a public hearing in order to change the current ordinance to allow 10 days for staff to review subdivision plats (rather than five (5) days as currently required) before being forwarded to the Planning Board. Mr. Furman added that, if approved, this amendment would be effective immediately.
There being no public comment, Chairman Hodges declared the public hearing closed at 7:10 P.M.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Commissioner Kohles, moved to approve the amendment to the Ordinance to Regulate Subdivisions and Multi Unit Structures as requested.
ORDINANCE BOOK #10, PAGE #35
PUBLIC HEARING – PROPOSED FISCAL YEAR 2000/2001 BUDGET
Chairman Hodges declared a public hearing open at 7:11 P.M. for the proposed Fiscal Year 2000/2001 budget.
The following individuals addressed the Board regarding their budget requests:
Dr. Ken Boham – Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute
Ms. Jennifer Herman – OASIS
Mr. Chris Turner – AppalCART
The following individuals spoke on behalf of the Watauga County Board of Education: Ms. Margaret Eggers, PTA President and Friends of Watauga High, Superintendent, Dr. Dick Jones, and School Board members, Dr. Jim Deni and Dr. Bob Richardson.
Mr. Mike Wagoner – Boone Area Chamber of Commerce
Ms. Compton Fortuna – Hunger Coalition
The following individuals spoke on behalf of the Watauga County Board of Elections: Mr. John Hovis and Ms. Celia Roten. In addition, Board of Elections member, Mr. Bill Miller, presented a letter of support from the Chairman of the Republican party, Mr. Greg Horne.
Mr. Darryl Graybeal – Creston Volunteer Fire Department
Ms. Cherry Johnson – Watauga County Arts Council
Ms. Sue Counts – Director, N.C. Cooperative Extension Service
Mr. Robert Warren – Producing Director, the Blowing Rock Stage Company
Each individual briefly discussed their agency’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2000/2001 and encouraged the Board to approve their funding requests as presented.
There being no further public comment, Chairman Hodges declared the public hearing closed at 8:32 P.M.
No action was taken.
PUBLIC HEARING – SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT PLAN UPDATE
Chairman Hodges declared a public hearing open at 8:32 P.M. for discussion on the County’s Solid Waste Management Plan Update.
Mr. Brandon Langdon, an Intern in the Manager’s Office, addressed the Board to discuss the 3-year update to the 10-Year Solid Waste Management Plan, which was adopted in 1997. Mr. Langdon stated he had worked with two members of the Sanitation Department, Ms. Donna Watson and Mr. J. V. Potter, and a Senior Planner with Region D Council of Governments (COG), Mr. Phil Trew, to complete this update. He briefly discussed the original plan and the goals proposed for the County over the next three years. The Plan was required to be updated every three years and submitted to the N.C. Department of Environment Health and Natural Resources by July 1, 2000.
Mr. Phil Trew, Region D COG, briefly addressed the Board stating the State required the adoption of a resolution in order to approve the Solid Waste Management Plan Update.
There being no public comment, Chairman Hodges declared the public hearing closed at 8:42 P.M.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to accept the Solid Waste Management Plan Update for submission to the N.C. Department of Environment Health and Natural Resources and to approve the resolution upon completion.
Prior to the vote, Vice-Chairman Sweeting had a question and asked for confirmation regarding seasonal variation in waste disposal, and Mr. Trew agreed to research the issue.
The following vote was then made on Commissioner Coffey’s motion:
RESOLUTION BOOK #10, PAGE #33
JUVENILE CRIME PREVENTION COUNCIL (JCPC) GRANT REQUEST
Ms. Bricca Sweet, Chair of the Watauga County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council, (JCPC) presented the JCPC Fiscal Year 2000/2001 grant request. If approved, $111,539 was available for the County. This amount required a 30% local match in the amount of $33,462, and Ms. Sweet requested the Board’s approval.
Commissioner Kohles seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to approve the grant request as presented.
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES MATTERS
A. Sheriff’s Department Technology Grant Request – Information Technologies Manager, Glenda Duncan, addressed the Board regarding the Sheriff’s E-911 Records System. Ms. Duncan stated that at the time the work had begun to set up the records system, the County had planned to purchase three laptop computers for investigators in the Sheriff’s Office. However, in order to purchase the necessary equipment for the E-911 records system, the funds designated to purchase the laptops, had to be used for this purpose. Ms. Duncan stated that Captain Paula Townsend had applied for additional grant funds from the N.C. Governor’s Crime Commission and was eligible to receive $6,750. She noted the amount of capital reserve funds required was $3,753 which included the required local match of $2,250. Ms. Duncan requested the Board approve the grant application and necessary funds to purchase the three laptop computers.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to approve the grant request and granted authorization to purchase the laptop computers as requested.
B. Fiber Optic Cable Request – Information Technologies Manager, Glenda Duncan, stated that several months ago the County began taking the necessary steps to add the Sheriff’s Office and the offices located in the East Annex onto the County’s computer network using an existing fiber optic cable that was installed for the Sheriff’s video arraignment system. Hardware and labor costs for completing this project were estimated at $19,500. Funds in the amount of $12,880 were available in the Information Technologies budget to cover this cost which left a balance of $6,620. Ms. Duncan stated these funds ($6,620) were previously budgeted but, due to an emergency purchase of a printer in the Finance Office, the funds had been expended. She requested the Board’s approval to transfer $6,620 from the computer reserve fund to cover this expense.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to approve this request.
A. DOT Transportation Enhancement Program – Planning & Inspections Director, Joe Furman, addressed the Board regarding the N.C. Department of Transportation Enhancement Program. Mr. Furman stated The High Country Conservancy was proposing to apply for funds to acquire a conservation easement from the Valle Crucis Conference Center on land adjacent to Highway 194 which was a N.C. Scenic Byway. In addition, the Conservancy would provide the required matching funds. Mr. Furman explained that the program required that a local government sponsor the project, and the Conservancy had requested the County’s assistance. He had discussed this request with County Attorney Hedrick. Mr. Hedrick recommended the Board delay taking action at this time until the easement addressed concerns that he discussed primarily concerning the County’s responsibility and liability.
Ms. Michelle Merritt, President of The High Country Conservancy, addressed the Board stating that the Conservancy’s purpose was to help homeowners preserve land. She added the Conservancy had been working with community leaders in Valle Crucis and that the Valle Crucis Conference Center maintained the property and wished to continue doing so.
Mr. Furman noted the application was due June 15, 2000, and it was agreed to discuss this request at the Board’s next regular meeting scheduled for June 5, 2000. No action was taken.
B. Performance Guarantee – Kensington Meadows Phase I – Planning & Inspections Director, Joe Furman, presented a performance guarantee for Kensington Meadows Phase I as required by Section 92 of the subdivision regulations. The performance guarantee was an Irrevocable Standby Letter of Credit from Branch Banking and Trust Company in the amount of $19,104, and Mr. Furman requested the Board’s approval.
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to approve the Irrevocable Standby Letter of Credit as requested.
C. Joint Meeting of the Planning Board and Board of Commissioners – Planning & Inspections Director, Joe Furman, stated the Planning Board members had discussed several different strategies for public involvement, and one idea was for the Board of Commissioners to conduct a work session with the Planning Board before the Planning Board’s next regular meeting scheduled for June 19, 2000. The purpose of the work session was for the Planning Board to receive further direction from the Board of Commissioners. Mr. Furman discussed several dates that had been approved by the Planning Board for this purpose.
It was the consensus of the Board of Commissioners to schedule a work session with the Planning Board for June 12, 2000 from 6:00 P.M.-9:00 P.M. to be held in the large conference room, 2nd floor, Watauga County Human Services Building.
A. Budget Amendments – Finance Director, Doris Isaacs, presented the following budget amendments for Board approval:
Account # Description Debit Credit
223594-333000 State School Bond Proceeds 184,243
225912-463000 Approved Bond Allotment 184,243
To recognize State School Bond Proceeds revenue and expenditures. There funds were considered grants in aid to counties and must be reflected in the County’s general ledger although the funds went directly to the School Board.
Account # Description Debit Credit
109800-498021 Transfer to Capital Res. 24,800
106125-469199 Prof. Services-Other 24,800
213980-398100 Trans. From Gen. Fund 24,800
219930-461200 Recreation Facilities 24,800
To reverse transfer of funds to Recreation budget for land survey and appraisal for grant application. Land identified for grant application became unavailable.
Account # Description Debit Credit
143581-323000 Admn. Cost Reimb. 12,109
145480-438800 Crisis Payments to Clients 10,109
145310-412100 Salaries-Regular 2,000
To recognize additional funding authorizations from the N.C. Division of Social Services for the Crisis Intervention Prevention program and partial funding for an additional Adult Protective Service position.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to approve the budget amendments as presented.
B. Indirect Cost Allocation Plan Contract – Finance Director, Doris Isaacs, presented a contract with DMG-Maximus, Inc. to prepare and negotiate the County’s indirect cost allocation plan for June 30, 2000 through June 30, 2002. Ms. Isaacs explained that each year the County was required to conduct a study for use by the Department of Social Services’ reimbursement reports and Project on Aging’s grant applications. Although bids had not been requested from other companies, Ms. Isaacs noted this was the company recommended by the N.C. Association of County Commissioners.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Commissioner Kohles, moved to approve the contract as presented.
DOT LEASE AGREEMENT FOR THE OLD PRISON FACILITY (WATAUGA CORRECTIONAL FACILITY)
County Manager Nelson reviewed the proposed lease agreement between the N.C. Department of Transportation and the County for the old prison facility (Watauga Correctional Facility). Mr. Nelson stated he had reviewed the proposed agreement with County Attorney Hedrick and discussed several concerns with the lease (primarily the sections concerning: Liability, Fire Or Other Casualty Loss, Assignment and Use, and the language in sections 17 and 19). Mr. Nelson had spoken with N.C. DOT representatives, Martin Bolick and Carl McCann, and voiced these concerns. However, Mr. Nelson stated it appeared the lease was not too flexible. Following brief discussion, it was agreed to discuss this matter further at the Board’s regular meeting scheduled for June 5, 2000. No action was taken.
DISCUSSION OF ARCHITECT SELECTION – HEALTH DEPARTMENT BUILDING
County Manager Nelson stated that he and Maintenance Supervisor, Robert Marsh, had interviewed two local architects who were interested in designing the new health department building: Ray Howell, Howell Associates Architects, and Randy Jones, David R. Jones Architecture. Per statute, Mr. Nelson stated that the County had to choose an architect to proceed with before a bid could be submitted to the County (the County could not ask that a bid be submitted from both architects). Both Mr. Nelson and Mr. Marsh felt both architects were impressive and highly qualified, and recommended Randy Jones who they felt had performed most satisfactorily in the recent East Annex project.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to accept staff’s recommendation and to enter into negotiations with David R. Jones Architecture for a new health department building.
Prior to the vote, the Board discussed both architect’s knowledge and experience.
The following vote was then made on Commissioner Lawrence’s motion.
VOTE: Aye-3 (Coffey, Hodges, Lawrence)
Nay-2 (Kohles, Sweeting)
MISCELLANEOUS ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS
A. July Meeting Date(s) – County Manager Nelson stated that traditionally the Board had cancelled its second meeting in July (currently scheduled for July 18, 2000). (Clerk’s note: Discussion was made at the Board’s April 3, 2000 regular meeting to conduct community meetings in the Summer/Fall in the following communities: Mabel, Valle Crucis, Triplett and Matney). Mr. Nelson stated that if the Board cancelled the second meeting in July, that the Board would conduct its first community meeting in August.
Following brief discussion, Commissioner Coffey seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to cancel the Board’s regular meeting scheduled for July 18, 2000.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Commissioner Kohles, moved to enter Closed Session at 9:33 P.M. to discuss: Attorney/Client Matters, G.S. 143-318.11(a)(3), Land Acquisition, G.S. 143-318.11(a)(5)(i), and Personnel Matters, G.S. 143-318.11(a)(6).
Following a brief recess, the Board entered Closed Session at 9:41 P.M.
Commissioner Kohles seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to resume the regular meeting at 10:22 P.M.
REQUEST OF COMMISSIONERS KOHLES AND SWEETING FOR LITIGATION ASSISTANCE PER G.S. 153A-97
Mr. Tony diSanti, a local Attorney, addressed the Board requesting assistance on behalf of Commissioners Kohles and Sweeting for the County to provide the funds for their legal assistance/counsel in regards to the lawsuit filed by D. Timothy Wilson and Watauga Ambulance Service, Inc. against the County, Vice-Chairman Sweeting and Commissioner Kohles. Mr. diSanti stated that pursuant to G.S. 153A-97, “a County may provide for the defense of any county officer or employee, including the county board of elections or any county election official”. The County was notified by the N.C. Counties Liability & Property Pool Fund that Mr. Ty Dahl, an Attorney with the law firm of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice in Winston-Salem, would be handling the County’s defense. In addition, County Attorney Hedrick would represent the County. Since Mr. Dahl’s and Mr. Hedrick’s primary focus was on defending the County, Mr. diSanti felt there may be occasions when Commissioners Kohles’ and Sweeting’s defense might be in conflict with the County. Mr. diSanti explained that a possible conflict might arise if the County chose to settle this case and Commissioners Kohles and Sweeting did not wish to settle. Because both Commissioners Kohles and Sweeting were acting in an official capacity (all counts sited in the lawsuit occurred in 1999 while they served on the Board), Mr. diSanti felt it was very important for the County to provide the funds for Commissioners Kohles’ and Sweeting’s legal counsel.
Following discussion, Chairman Hodges made a motion for the County to provide funds for legal counsel for Commissioners Kohles and Sweeting as requested.
No second was made to Chairman Hodges’ motion, therefore, the motion failed.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to adjourn the meeting at 10:50 P.M.
Jimmy Hodges, Chairman
Elizabeth H. Link, Clerk to the Board