WATAUGA COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
TUESDAY, AUGUST 15, 2000
The Watauga County Board of Commissioners held a regular meeting on Tuesday, August 15, 2000 at 7:00 P.M. at the Shawneehaw Volunteer Fire Department.
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. This was the first of a series of Board meetings to be held in different communities throughout the County, and Chairman Hodges stated he felt this was beneficial in order to hear residents’ concerns and needs.
APPROVAL OF AUGUST 15, 2000 AGENDA
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to approve the agenda for the August 15, 2000 meeting as presented.
Chairman Hodges introduced the following Department Heads and staff:
Larry McLean, Tax Administrator
Doris Isaacs, Finance Director
Jim Atkinson, Social Services Director
Glenda Duncan, Information Technologies Director
Joe Furman, Planning & Inspections Director
Jane Ann Hodges, Board of Elections Director
Deb Wynne, Parks & Recreation Director
Jim Harmon, Veterans Service Officer/Safety Director
Rocky Nelson, County Manager
Libby Link, Clerk to the Board
Jeff Hedrick, County Attorney
A. Rural Operating Assistance Program Application – AppalCART Director, Chris Turner, had received notification from the N.C. Department of Transportation that the N.C. General Assembly had appropriated $500,000 in additional Rural General Public funds for Fiscal Year 2000/2001. Mr. Turner stated the additional funding to Watauga County in the amount of $5,309 required no local match, and if approved, AppalCART would receive a total allocation of $17,708. He recommended the Board’s approval to apply for the additional funds and briefly discussed how the funding would be utilized.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to approve this recommendation.
B. Anderson Building Appraisal Report – AppalCART Director, Chris Turner, addressed the Board regarding the current AppalCART facility and ways to expand and/or look for a new facility. (Clerk’s note: Mr. Turner had addressed the Board at its July 3, 2000 regular meeting regarding this matter and was to report back to the Board once an appraisal was completed at the current facility). Tennille & Associates, Inc. conducted an appraisal of the current facility, and determined the value of the property to be $600,000. Mr. Turner stated he was seeking guidance from the State on the best way to proceed. He added this process was going to take some time and wanted to make the Board aware of the proceedings to date. This item was for the Board’s information, and no action was taken.
VOLUNTARY FARMLAND PRESERVATION PROGRAM
Mr. Bill Edmisten addressed the Board to discuss the Voluntary Farmland Preservation Program. Mr. Edmisten stated a steering committee had been formed to encourage the voluntary preservation and protection of farmland from non-farm development. Pursuant to N.C.G.S. Chapter 106, Article 61, the N.C. General Assembly authorized counties to undertake a series of programs to encourage the preservation of farmland. In regards to this matter, Mr. Edmisten stated the steering committee had received and studied ordinances from the following counties: Haywood, Buncombe, Forsyth, Rutherford and Avery. After reviewing the ordinances received, the steering committee had drawn up a draft ordinance which best addressed the needs of the citizens throughout Watauga County. Mr. Edmisten added the steering committee members were requesting permission to present the draft ordinance at the Board’s next regular meeting scheduled for September 5, 2000. In addition, Planning & Inspections Director, Joe Furman, stated he felt the Voluntary Farmland Preservation Program was a benefit to the community. Mr. Edmisten stated he would be present at the Board’s September 5, 2000 meeting to present the draft ordinance and agreed to forward a copy of the draft ordinance to the Planning Board for its review.
A. Subdivision Performance Guarantee – Planning & Inspections Director, Joe Furman, presented a subdivision performance guarantee for the completion of road construction at Stillhouse Creek, Phase I (as required by Section 92 of the subdivision regulations). The performance guarantee was a Standby Irrevocable Letter of Credit from Bank of Granite in the amount of $73,000. Mr. Furman stated that County Attorney Hedrick had reviewed the Letter of Credit, and Mr. Furman requested the Board’s approval.
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to approve the Standby Irrevocable Letter of Credit as requested.
B. Contract Request for 911 Mapping – Planning & Inspections Director, Joe Furman, received the following bids in order to create an accurate road centerline profile in a digital format for all public and private roads in unincorporated Watauga County as well as the Towns of Blowing Rock and Seven Devils (the areas for which the Sheriff’s Department dispatches).
Geographic Technologies Group (GTG) - $56,000
3DI - $55,477
Institute for Transportation Research and Education - $91,642
N.C. State University
Mr. Furman noted that GTG wrote the software for Southern Software (SS), therefore because of the relationship between GTG and SS, Mr. Furman felt it would be prudent to award the bid to GTG. In addition, he noted there were sufficient funds (from the 911 surcharge proceeds) to cover this expense and recommended the Board approve the GTG bid in the amount of $56,000.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Vice-Chairman Sweeting, moved to approve the Geographic Technologies Group bid in the amount of $56,000 contingent upon County Attorney Hedrick’s approval of the contract.
INDUSTRIAL FIELD FENCE REPORT
Parks & Recreation Director, Deb Wynne, addressed the Board regarding the purchase of a 10-foot high fence for the industrial ballfield (as discussed at the Board’s August 7, 2000 regular meeting). Ms. Wynne stated there had been individuals upset because of softballs hitting car windows and damaging vehicles at the National Guard Armory building. She had met with individuals from the Town of Boone and the National Guard Armory in order to solve this problem. All three agencies agreed to fund a new 10-foot fence to replace the County’s existing 5-foot fence (which was old and worn out) in order to protect Greenway trail participants (behind the Industrial Outfield fence). It was decided that the fence would be installed by the County in the outfield, and it could be replaced by insurance monies if it was damaged by flooding. Ms. Wynne added this had been a great project with three organizations working together for a common goal. The Town of Boone had made a payment to the County in the amount of $6,000, and Ms. Wynne requested the Board accept the funds for the purchase of this fence.
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to approve the request to receive $6,000 from the Town of Boone for the purchase of the fence.
A. Budget Amendment – As previously discussed, Finance Director, Doris Isaacs, presented the following budget amendment for Board approval:
Account # Description Debit Credit
103612-385502 Town of Boone – P&I 6,000
106127-451000 Capital Outlay – Fencing 6,000
To recognize funds obligated by the Town of Boone Planning Inspection site development coordinator for the purchase of a 10-foot high fence for the industrial ballfield. Tabled from the Board’s August 7, 2000 regular meeting.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to approve the budget amendment as presented.
B. Request for Contract for the Collection of Taxes for Short-Term Rentals/Leased Vehicles – Finance Director, Doris Isaacs, presented a contract with the Town of Boone for the County to collect the taxes on short-term leased or rental of vehicles. This was in addition to and basically the same contract that the County had with the Town of Boone to collect its property taxes. Ms Isaacs stated that she and County Attorney Hedrick had reviewed the contract with Tax Administrator, Larry McLean. The County would retain 1 ½% of all funds collected for taxes and penalties in order to cover the cost to the County in collecting the taxes. The existing Finance Department staff would handle the transactions. Ms. Isaacs added she felt this was an equitable arrangement for both parties.
Vice-Chairman Sweeting seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to approve the contract between the County and the Town of Boone for the collection of taxes on short-term leased or rental of vehicles.
RECOMMENDATION FOR APPOINTMENTS TO THE WORK FIRST COMMITTEE
Social Services Director, Jim Atkinson, had discussed this at the Board’s prior meeting (August 7, 2000) and presented the following list of individuals who were willing to serve on the County’s Work First Planning Committee for the 2001-2003 Work First Plan:
Mr. Jim Atkinson, Chair – Social Services Director
Mr. Don Suggs – New River Area Mental Health
Ms. Carol Deal –Board of Education
Mr. Rob Holton – Local Businessman
Mr. Lonnie Jones – Employment Security Commission
Dr. John Turner – Appalachian State University Social Work Department
Ms. Pat Coley – AppalCART Board of Directors
Ms. Shirlee Gaines Edwards – Children’s Council
Ms. Kristin Wright – Region D Council of Governments
Dr. Ken Boham – Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute
Mr. Rocky Nelson – County Manager
Mr. David Triplett – Appalachian District Health Department Board of Directors
Mr. Jim Thompson – Faith Community
Ms. Rene’ Brown – Service Recipient
In addition, Mr. Atkinson stated the only name he did not have for the list was a representative from the Board of Commissioners. He stated that State law required a representative from the Board of Commissioners to serve on this Committee. It was noted that County Manager Nelson was on the Committee, and Mr. Atkinson informed the Board that Mr. Nelson could also serve as the Board’s representative.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to approve the list of individuals presented and to appoint County Manager Nelson as the Board’s representative to the Watauga County Work First Planning Committee.
MISCELLANEOUS ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS
A. Pay Plan Classification Study Proposal – County Manager Nelson stated the County had sent Request for Proposals to 10 consultant groups to conduct a pay plan classification study for the County. Proposals were received from the following firms:
Municipal Advisors Incorporated (MAI) - $29,500
Virginia Beach, VA
The Maps Group - $32,300
DMG-Maximus, Inc. - $42,500
The Scott Group Human Resource Management Co. - $22,600
Public Administration Service - $37,600
The Human Factor - $53,000
Nash and Company, Inc. - $29,500
Mr. Nelson noted that staff had reviewed each proposal and determined that MAI would provide the best service for the County. He noted that the proposal received from Nash and Company, Inc. did not include a merit pay plan, and staff assumed the County would have to pay more for that portion. Mr. Nelson stated he had checked MAI’s references and received positive recommendations. He added that MAI would review the County’s merit pay plan and job classifications/descriptions. MAI would also interview 30-35% of County employees.
Commissioner Lawrence seconded by Commissioner Coffey, moved to approve the bid received from Municipal Advisors Incorporated in the amount of $29,500 plus expenses not to exceed $6,000 contingent upon County Attorney Hedrick’s approval of the contract.
B. Boards and Commissions – County Manager Nelson noted the following members’ terms expired August 31, 2000 on the Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute (Watauga County) Advisory Committee: Will Burgin, Mary Hall, Jeff Voss, Howard Dorgan, Chuck Claxton and Harold Tilley. Mr. Nelson stated staff was notified by Dr. Sandra Anderson that the following had agreed to continue to serve: Will Burgin, Mary Hall, Jeff Voss, Chuck Claxton and Harold Tilley.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to re-appoint Will Burgin, Mary Hall, Jeff Voss, Chuck Claxton and Harold Tilley to the Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute (Watauga County) Advisory Committee.
Commissioner Lawrence voiced his concerns about the Board of Commissioners making appointments to boards and commissions with people who were not willing to serve or without knowing the individual(s).
Commissioner Lawrence moved that the Board of Commissioners appoint members to boards and commissions from nominees received from the boards and commissions in order to ensure the appointments of individuals willing to serve.
Commissioner Lawrence reiterated the importance of the boards and commissions submitting nominees for the Board of Commissioners’ consideration.
Following brief discussion, Commissioner Lawrence withdrew his motion.
County Manager Nelson stated there was one vacancy on the Watauga County – Valle Crucis Historic Preservation Commission: Allen Culler’s term expired in August, 2000, and Mr. Culler was willing to continue to serve.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to re-appoint Allen Culler to the Watauga County – Valle Crucis Historic Preservation Commission for a 3-year term.
C. Announcements – County Manager Nelson reminded the Board that the Board’s next regular meeting was scheduled for Tuesday, September 5, 2000 at 9:00 A.M. (due to the Labor Day holiday on September 4, 2000).
PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD
Mr. Jim Stonesifer voiced his concerns that cablevision was not offered to residents in the Matney community which was experiencing rapid growth. In addition, he voiced his concerns about the poor road conditions on N.C. Highway 194. The following individuals also voiced their concerns regarding N.C. Highway 194 and the lack of response they felt they had received from the N.C. Department of Transportation: Bill Cook, Gary Rupard, Jean and Pete Williams, Hade Smith, Chris Turner, E.B. Pulley and Don Stephenson.
Following discussion, it was the consensus of the Board to write a letter to the N.C. Department of Transportation voicing the Board’s concerns regarding the poor road conditions on N.C. Highway 194 and for each Board member to sign the letter to emphasize each Board member’s concerns.
Commissioner Coffey seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:37 P.M.
Jimmy Hodges, Chairman
Elizabeth H. Link, Clerk to the Board