WATAUGA COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2016
The Watauga County Board of Commissioners held a regular meeting, as scheduled, on Tuesday, November 15, 2016, at 5:30 P.M. in the Commissioners' Board Room of the Watauga County Administration Building, Boone, North Carolina.
PRESENT: Jimmy Hodges, Chairman
David Blust, Vice-Chairman
Billy Kennedy, Commissioner
John Welch, Commissioner
Perry Yates, Commissioner
Stacy C. Eggers, IV, County Attorney
Deron Geouque, County Manager
Anita J. Fogle, Clerk to the Board
Chairman Hodges called the meeting to order at 5:30 P.M.
Vice-Chairman Blust opened with prayer and Commissioner Yates led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Approval of Minutes
Chairman Hodges called for additions and/or corrections to the October 18, 2016, regular meeting and closed session minutes.
Commissioner Kennedy, seconded by Commissioner Welch, moved to approve the October 18, 2016, regular meeting minutes as presented.
Commissioner Kennedy, seconded by Commissioner Welch, moved to approve the October 18, 2016, closed session minutes as presented.
Approval of Agenda
Chairman Hodges called for additions and/or corrections to the November 15, 2016, agenda.
Commissioner Kennedy, seconded by Vice-Chairman Blust, moved to approve the November 15, 2016, agenda as presented.
Public Hearing to Allow Citizen Comment on Proposed Road Names
A public hearing was held to allow citizen comment on the new private and public road names as required by N.C.G.S. 153A-239.1.
Chairman Hodges called the public hearing to order at 5:32 P.M.
Mr. Jeff Virginia presented the proposed road names as listed below:
New Road Names: River Creek Lane, This Way, Whitewater Run, Chestnut Ridge Parkway, Eagle Crest Ridge, Patsys Place, Skyridge Way, Spring House Way, Sweet Meadow Trail, Timberwalk Drive, Twilight Point, White Trail Lane, Misty Maple Trail, Mossy Branch Lane, Soaring Eagle Lane, South Willow Ridge Lane, Watauga Campus Way, Butler Lane, Farmer Brown Road, Sams Lane, Strait and Narrow Way, Ramblestone Terrace, River Rim Trail, Riddles Fork Crossing, Wayne Woodring Mountain Road, Fernwood, Madisyn Oaks Lane, Rock Water East, Rock Water West, Spur Cove Lane, Spur Edge, Bubbling Brook Road, Moon Shine Nvno, Old Indian Nvno, Chappell Farm Road, Gods Country Road, Nit Noi Row, North Chappell Road, Echo Point Drive, Lylas Way, Mary Ellen Lane, New Horizons Way, and Falcon Trace.
Road Name Changes for Existing Roads: from Turbo Drive to Archers Crossing and from Skiview Lane to Skyview Lane
With no public comment, Chairman Hodges closed the public hearing at 5:33 P.M.
Commissioner Kennedy, seconded by Commissioner Yates, moved to approve the new road names as presented.
Presentation of Fiscal Year 2016 Audit
Ms. Misty Watson presented the Fiscal Year 2016 County audit. Ms. Watson stated that the County is in excellent financial condition. Below are some of the financial highlights:
v The total assets of the County exceeded its liabilities at the close of the fiscal year by $136,284,553.
v The County’s unassigned fund balance for the general fund was $21,607,950 at the end of the year, representing 46.34% of total General Fund expenditures. This is an increase of $3,415,887 in the unassigned fund balance from the previous year.
v The collection rate for property taxes was 98.76% which was an increase from last year’s 98.37%. The County is still above the statewide average of 97.57% for entities of similar populations in 2015.
v Outstanding debt principal decreased by $4,117,361. Total outstanding debt principal at June 30, 2016, is $43,156,110. Watauga County’s legal debt limit is $672,414,671 so the County continues to be well below the state limits.
v Moody’s Investor Services updated their review of the County’s financials and reported the County is in a strong financial position.
v No material weaknesses were found in our accounting systems or internal controls.
Commissioner Yates, seconded by Commissioner Welch, moved to accept the Fiscal Year 2016 Audit as presented.
The County Manager requested the Board transfer the $3,415,887 increase in the unassigned fund balance to the Capital Project Fund, OPEB Liability, and additional capital items as identified. Staff recommends the following distribution of these funds:
$ 300,000 School CIP
$ 2,000,000 Recreation/Pool Complex
$ 250,000 Facilities Maintenance
$ 250,000 Emergency Communications
$ 470,887 OPEB Liability
$ 105,000 Sheriff’s Office Vehicles
$ 40,000 New HVAC for Old AppalCART Facility
This will continue the process of replenishing the CIP Fund and returning the balance to pre-recession levels and also provide funds for capital items.
Vice-Chairman Blust, seconded by Commissioner Yates, moved to approve the transfer of the $3,415,887 increase in the unassigned fund balance to the Capital Project Fund for future County projects and the other capital items identified.
Request to Modify Custodial Services Contract
Mr. Robert Marsh, Maintenance Director, presented a proposed increase in service to the existing custodial service contract for additional trips to Parks and Recreation facilities on Saturdays and Sundays to lock the facilities. The facilities had experienced extensive vandalism, theft, and loitering at night. Staff gave preliminary approval to the increase in service and that measure has reduced the incidents at the facilities. Funds are available to cover the cost of the additional service.
Commissioner Yates, seconded by Commissioner Welch, moved to approve the modification to the existing custodial contract for the increase in service as presented.
A. Monthly Collections Report
Tax Administrator, Mr. Larry Warren, presented the Tax Collections Report for the month of October 2016. The report was presented for information only and, therefore, no action was required.
B. Refunds and Releases
Mr. Warren presented the Refunds and Releases Report for October 2016 for Board approval:
TO BE TYPED IN MINUTE BOOK
Commissioner Kennedy, seconded by Commissioner Welch, moved to approve the Refunds and Releases Report for October 2016 as presented.
C. Property Tax Appeal
Mr. Warren stated that His High Places, Inc., in Blowing Rock applied for tax exemption on properties owned by the organization. The deadline to file for tax exemption is June 1st of each year. The reason for the untimely application was because the organization had previously rented the properties and was not aware that they could file for exemption now that the property was being used for the purpose of the non-profit. Their staff understands that the application would be granted going forward so long as the application was submitted in a timely manner. The total reduction in taxes including county and fire is $1,805. Since the appeal has been filed after the adjournment of the Board of Equalization and Review, the Board of Commissioners is required to hear the appeal.
Commissioner Yates, seconded by Vice-Chairman Blust, moved to accept His High Places, Inc.’s application and approve the tax exemption on the requested properties.
A. Proposed Juvenile Crime Prevention Council (JCPC) Budget Amendment
Ms. Margaret Pierce, Finance Director, presented a revised Juvenile Crime Prevention Council (JCPC) FY 2016-17 Funding Allocation form. One of the original programs was unable to accept funds so the Council is requesting to transfer $2,100 to the Administrative line to be used for a “State of the Child” event and other miscellaneous expenses. No additional County funding is required.
Commissioner Welch, seconded by Commissioner Yates, moved to approve the revised funding allocation for the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council (JCPC) as requested.
B. Vaya Health (Formerly Smoky Mountain Center) Quarterly Report
Ms. Pierce presented the Vaya Health Quarterly Financial Report as required by Statute. No action was required.
C. Proposed Inmate Catastrophic Insurance Contract
Ms. Pierce presented a proposed contract renewal with Insurance Management Consultants for catastrophic insurance for inmates housed in the County jail. The insurance shields the County from large medical claims that occur while inmates are being housed in the Watauga County Jail.
Ms. Pierce requested the approval of the contract with Insurance Management Consultants, Inc. for catastrophic insurance coverage in the amount of $28,208.88 with a $10,000 deductible. This is a $701 reduction from last year’s renewal. Adequate funds are available to cover the contracted cost.
Commissioner Yates, seconded by Vice-Chairman Blust, moved to renew the contract with Insurance Management Consultants, Inc. in the amount of $28,208.88 with a $10,000 deductible as presented.
Miscellaneous Administrative Matters
A. Proposed Forest Service Lease
County Manager Geouque stated that the Forestry Service currently leases a one-half acre site at the County landfill. The lease was entered into in 2004 and was an open ended lease which is no longer acceptable under state policy. The Forest Service wishes to enter into a formal three (3) year lease effective December 1, 2016. The County Manager presented a proposed lease along with a required PO-28 Lease proposal form.
County Attorney Eggers recommended removing the liability language and to change wording to compensate for the gate located at the facility.
Commissioner Yates, seconded by Commissioner Welch, moved to approve, contingent upon County Attorney review, the lease and completion of PO-28 Lease proposal form.
B. Out-of-State Travel Request – Parks and Recreation
County Manager Geouque stated that Ms. Keron Poteat, Recreation Specialist II, requested authorization for herself and Mr. Paul Krause, Assistant Athletic Director, to travel to Abingdon, VA. The purpose of the trip is to serve the older adult population in providing transportation and assistance for a play and lunch. County policy requires all out-of-state travel to be approved by the Board.
Commissioner Welch, seconded by Commissioner Kennedy, moved to approve the out-of-state travel for Keron Poteat and Paul Krause as presented.
C. Property Donation
County Manager Geouque stated that he was contacted by Richard Promin, who wished to donate property which he owns to the County. He is the owner of a one acre lot located in Saddle Hill (221 Blowing Rock) area. The tax value is $52,000 on the lot. Taxes are current. Staff is unaware of any liens on the property or any property owner’s association dues. Mr. Promin has spoken with the Blue Ridge Parkway and they indicated there were no funds available to pay for the necessary requirements to accept the donation. Staff contacted the Blue Ridge Conservancy who had no interest in the property.
Board direction was given to staff to further research the right-of-way issue with the property owner. After further discussion the attached letter was provided by the property owner. It would appear that the property owner wants the County to pay for the survey or just list the property with a disclaimer that there is no right-of-way.
County Attorney Eggers stated that action was only needed if the Board wished to accept the donation.
No action was taken.
D. December Meeting Schedule
County Manager Geouque stated that the County Board of Commissioners needed to meet the first Monday in December following each general election. Therefore, the Board will need to reschedule the December 6, 2016, meeting to Monday, December 5, 2016 at 8:30 A.M.
Commissioner Yates, seconded by Commissioner Welch, Staff moved to reschedule the December 6, 2016, meeting to Monday, December 5, 2016, at 8:30 A.M.
E. Proposed Amendment to the County’s Holiday Schedule
County Manager Geouque stated that due to the County operating the State Tag Office, a conflict has arisen between the County’s and State’s Holiday Schedule. In an effort to provide consistency and continuity staff would recommend the Board follow the State schedule for days off in observance of Christmas. Currently, Tag Office employees must use vacation leave when the State schedule provides for three (3) days off and the County provides for two (2).
Commissioner Kennedy, seconded by Vice-Chairman Blust, moved to approve the County follow the State schedule regarding time off during the Christmas time period.
County Manager Geouque announced that the Annual County Christmas Luncheon, scheduled on Tuesday, December 13, 2016, will be held at Dan’l Boone Inn from 11:45 A.M. to 2:00 P.M.
There was no public comment.
At 5:58 P.M., Commissioner Kennedy, seconded by Chairman Hodges, moved to enter Closed Session to discuss Attorney/Client Matters, per G. S. 143-318.11(a)(3).
Commissioner Kennedy, seconded by Commission Welch, moved to resume the open meeting at 6:08 P.M.
Commissioner Kennedy, seconded by Commissioner Welch, moved to amend the agenda to add Personnel Matters, per G. S. 143-318.11(a)(6), to Closed Session.
At 6:09 P.M., Commissioner Kennedy, seconded by Commissioner Welch, moved to enter Closed Session to discuss Personnel Matters, per G. S. 143-318.11(a)(6).
Commissioner Yates, seconded by Commission Welch, moved to resume the open meeting at 6:36 P.M.
Vice-Chairman Blust, seconded by Chairman Yates, moved to adjourn the meeting at 6:37 P.M.
Jimmy Hodges, Chairman
ATTEST: Anita J. Fogle, Clerk to the Board