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JANUARY 18, 2011
2. Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.
4. Approval of the minutes from the Regular Meeting and Closed Session of December 20, 2010.
5. Recognition of Special Guests.
6. Public Comments for Items Not on the Agenda.
8. Consent Agenda:
9. Departmental Reports:
B. Economic Development Corporation:
C. Social Services:
10. Other Items of Business.
11. Attorneys’ Report.
12. Manager’s Report.
PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES: Individuals needing assistance should contact the County Clerk at 828-465-8990 within a reasonable time prior to the meeting. A telecommunication device for the deaf (TDD) is located in the Government Center and can be reached by dialing 465 8200. Access to the 1924 Courthouse for individuals with disabilities is at the south side (“A” Street). The elevator is located at the north end of the building. Participation in public meetings is without regard to race, creed, religion, national origin, sex, age, color, or disability.
INFOTALK/INTERNET: The Catawba County Telephone Information System will allow you to use your touch tone telephone to obtain current information on Catawba County 24 hours a day. Information is updated on a regular basis. Dial 465-8468 and INFOTALK will direct your questions with easy to understand instructions. Reach Catawba County on the Internet at http://www.catawbacountync.gov.
CALENDAR: The February Board of Commissioners Meetings will take place on Monday, February 7, 2011 at 9:30 a.m. and on Monday, February 21, 2011 at 7:00 p.m.
PREVIEW OF COUNTY COMMISSION AGENDA
TUESDAY, JANUARY 18, 2011, 7:00 P.M.
ROBERT E. HIBBITTS MEETING ROOM
1924 COURTHOUSE, NEWTON, N.C.
The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will consider a request to proceed with a classroom addition project at Webb Murray Elementary and renovations to the kitchen/cafeteria at St. Stephens High School; a request to transfer funds already budgeted for the Hickory Public Schools from a roofing project to asbestos abatement and classroom design at the Hickory Career and Arts Magnet High School; and a proposed economic incentives agreement with Poppelmann Plastics to support the expansion of Poppelmann’s Claremont facility, when the Board meets at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at the 1924 Courthouse at 30 North College Avenue in Newton. The Board will also consider a State and Federal legislative agenda for use in working with Catawba County’s delegations to the North Carolina General Assembly and United States Congress in 2011.
The Board will receive the Annual Report of the Community Child Protection/Child Fatality Team and a report on the latest collection of Household Hazardous Wastes, held in Hickory on November 6, 2010. It will also consider a revision to Social Services’ Fiscal Year 2010-2011 budget outcome for Educational Services and a tax refund request.
The Educational Services program was implemented in 2009 as part of a Child Wellbeing Project funded by The Duke Endowment. Through this project, Social Services staff have continued to have strong working relationships with the three public school districts and successfully track educational continuity and achievement for all children in foster care. The program also allows staff to comply with federal legislation that requires states to address the educational stability of children in foster care. Many states, including North Carolina, have yet to allocate resources to assure transportation to base schools for children in foster care. This has resulted in the school districts and Social Services working together to arrange transportation, often across districts, so children may remain in their home school when they enter foster care.
Nationally, children in care have an average of three to four placement moves, which often result in school moves. Three to four school moves can result in a one-year loss of educational growth, according to the National Working Group on Foster Care Education. This Educational Services initiative focuses on educational stability and continuity to eliminate or reduce the negative impact on educational achievement for children in foster care. At the time the original goal of “fewer than two school placements” was adopted, the county’s school districts had a greater ability to make special transportation arrangements for students. Social Services has increased the percentage of school-aged children having fewer than two school placements from 74% in 2008-2009 to 81% in 2009-2010 after an Educational Advocate position became full-time. At that time, staff felt a goal of 80% of children having fewer than two school moves was attainable. However, in the first quarter of 2010-2011, 79% of school age children in foster care had fewer than two school placements and the figures indicate a drop to 78%. Unfortunately, because the standard is so high (allowing only one or no moves), there is little chance of improving on the current statistic, particularly since the likelihood of a foster care placement or school change occurring increases as the school year progresses and as more children enter care. Changing the outcome to “two or fewer school placement changes” still keeps the standard higher than the national average and prevents the negative impact that results from a child having more than two school moves.
B. The Board will consider a tax refund request in the amount of $4,630.05. Records have been checked and the refund verified; therefore, the Tax Collector is asking for approval of the refund requests. Under North Carolina General Statute 105-381, a taxpayer who has paid taxes may request a refund in writing for an amount paid through error.
2. The Board will consider a request to proceed with a classroom addition project at Webb Murray Elementary and renovations to the kitchen/cafeteria at St. Stephens High School. In fiscal year 2007-08, the Board set aside two cents of the property tax rate for financing of school construction projects over a four-year period. Projects funded over the first three years of that cycle included a new Snow Creek Elementary School, additions to Bunker Hill, Bandys, Fred T. Foard, Hickory and Newton-Conover High Schools, and improvements and additions at Catawba Valley Community College.
In late 2009 and early 2010, the County applied for an allocation of Qualified School Construction Bonds (QSCBs), available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The County received a total allocation of $21,508,553 to be used towards a new Newton-Conover Middle School ($16,508,553) and additions to the existing Arndt Middle School ($5,200,000). Staff was able to issue 2009 and 2010 QSCBs at a 0% rate for fifteen years, and finance the balance of the Newton-Conover Middle School project with traditional financing at a rate of 3.185% over fifteen years. By issuing the QSCBs at 0%, the County realized approximately $7.5 million in interest savings over the financing term.
In late 2010, Catawba County was notified by the State that additional QSCB dollars were available, so an application was submitted to request those funds. The County was awarded an additional $6.3 million to be used for a classroom expansion project at Webb Murray Elementary School, which was planned for the next four-year construction cycle beginning in FY 2010-11. Catawba County agreed to advance funds from the next four-year cycle and move forward with bidding the project, in order to take advantage of the QSCB funding and a favorable construction climate.
Bids were received in December 2010 for a total project cost of $5,776,800 for an addition of eighteen classrooms, a new entrance to the school, expansion of the media center and renovation of existing classrooms. This is $523,200 less than the QSCB allocation of $6.3 million, which was the expected budget for the project. Catawba County Schools is requesting that this balance of QSCB funds, along with funds remaining from completed Catawba County Schools’ projects including Snow Creek Elementary, be used to expand the kitchen/cafeteria at St. Stephens High School. The original kitchen/ cafeteria has not been expanded since the early 1960s when the original building was built. The project is estimated to cost between $1.2 million and $1.6 million and will be bid in the spring of 2011, at which time Catawba County Schools will request final approval for the project from the County.
In fiscal year 2009-10, Catawba County was allocated $3,093,376 in lottery funds for its three school systems ($2,178,494 to Catawba County Schools, $847,172 to Hickory Public Schools, $530,623 to Newton-Conover City Schools). This amount was much higher than expected due to a change in the distribution formula by the State to allocate funds to school systems on an Average Daily Membership basis instead of based on county tax rates. Since inception of the lottery funding, the County has dedicated those funds annually in an amount equivalent to one-cent on the property tax rate, or $1.5 million, towards repayment of school debt over the four-year construction cycle. This additional lottery funding will be used to complete the County’s funding of the project after bids are received.
B. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION:
In 2007, Poppelmann Plastics opened a manufacturing and warehousing facility in Claremont; its first and only manufacturing venture in the United States. In its first phase, the facility has been manufacturing horticultural pots. Subsequent buildings and phases will manufacture automobile parts, and pharmaceutical and food containers.
As a result of Poppelmann’s use of outside warehousing facilities and the foreign exchange rate, Phase II in its development plan was being considered in 2008. The company was considering a second 53,000 square foot building with an anticipated cost of between $5 and $8 million upon occupancy, upfit, and equipment. No new employees were expected with this expansion, but the company must maintain all existing jobs through 2016 and the average wage of these jobs must pay at or above the County average wage. This is the second of nine facilities planned on the site layout of the 27.4 acre master plan. Poppelmann’s expenditures for the first facility totaled more than $18 million, exceeding its contractual obligations to the County by nearly $10 million.
At its August 18, 2008 meeting, the Board unanimously approved a Most Favored Business Incentive, based on 67% of the increased tax on the Phase II facility/equipment for five years, with a maximum total grant of $28,676 per year or $143,380 total. The ad valorem tax receipts on $8 million equal $214,000 over five years, so this investment will net an immediate positive payback to the County of approximately $70,620 over five years. The Board’s approval contained stipulations that the Company agreed that all employee hires under age 25 have a minimum of a high school diploma, and any future projects awarded Most Favored Business Incentives would require jobs exceeding the County average wage. The County drafted an agreement and sent it to the Company for their consideration in 2008. Following preliminary discussions, the Company was silent for 18 months due to several management changes. When Poppelmann’s management was firmly cemented in 2010, discussions on the agreement were renewed and a final agreement negotiated.
The Catawba County Child Protection Team was established in February 1992, as the result of an executive order by Governor James Martin. The State later mandated a Child Fatality Review Team and Catawba County elected to combine the two teams, with a first joint meeting in August 1995. The combined teams have met quarterly since that time, except for specially called meetings. The Child Protection Team has the legal responsibilities for reviewing cases of child fatalities when the family is known to the Department of Social Services and identification of areas in Protective Services needing improvement in order to maximize the safety of the community’s children. The Child Fatality Team’s purpose is to provide a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary approach to study cases of childhood death in Catawba County in order to attempt to reduce child fatalities. The local directors of Social Services and Public Health have specific responsibilities for each team and the Board of Commissioners decides if there will be a team for each area or if they will be combined. Although they are combined in Catawba County, this report addresses the work of the Community Child Protection Team.
The Community Child Protection/Child Fatality Team has proven to be an effective one, utilizing a systemic approach. Efforts continue to be made for the group to review additional individual Child Protective Services issues and satisfy the State’s agreement with the federal government to use Child Protection Teams as a review mechanism in the Child Protective Services arena.
From its inception, the Catawba County Child Protection Team focused on systemic issues. Some selected child abuse and neglect cases were reviewed for the purposes of understanding systemic issues and recommending or causing necessary changes to be made. Over the course of the Child Protection Team’s work, areas given strong focus and consideration include: child sexual abuse protection and community protocol; training and abuse prosecution in criminal investigations; referral for protective services from physicians; foster care treatment emergency protocol for sexual victimization; interagency communications; medical examinations for children in Social Services’ care; review of all child fatalities in Catawba County since the inception of the Child Fatality Team; legislation to increase the age of consent from 13 to 16 in North Carolina with a statewide marketing campaign; support of the Safe Kids Coalition and the establishment of a Child Advocacy Center; participation in the Catawba County Minimum Standards of Child Care program; support for the Sheriff Department’s Trigger Locks Program and for a defensive driving course in addition to regular driver education; identification of a high correlation among infant fatalities and substance abusing caretakers; improved relationships among professional workers dealing with prenatal and postpartum patients regarding laws of confidentiality; and other programs which are expected to be noted during the meeting.
D. UTILITIES AND ENGINEERING
A total of 792 vehicles passed through the collection on November 8, representing 1,276 households. A total of 98,849 pounds of waste was collected. The cost to Catawba County was $24,336.22. The cost of the event is driven by the type and quantity of waste handled during the event. The amount of HHW collected by weight increased by 6.7% over the 2010 spring event held in Newton, and by 9.1% over the 2009 fall event held at LP Frans Stadium. These events have experienced continued growth, in the amount of HHW collected by weight per event, since fall of 2008. Through these events, a total of 1,298,559 pounds of HHW has been removed from the county’s waste stream since 2000.
At the Board of Commissioner’s November 29, 2010 Subcommittee meeting, there was a discussion about developing a common top two state legislative goals in cooperation with other entities that develop a legislative agenda. The draft agenda contains two goals that were developed collaboratively. The first is a goal to “support changes to North Carolina’s economic development tiering structure and state funding of economic development projects”. The second is a goal which concerns proposed legislation on collective bargaining to “oppose all attempts at the Federal and State levels, including Federal Senate Bill 3991 Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2010, that circumvent North Carolina General Statute 95-98. Additionally, the North Carolina General Assembly should pass legislation to strengthen the prohibition against any participation in public sector mandatory collective bargaining in North Carolina”.
Other goals proposed for the State legislative agenda include support for an increase to $35,000 in the Homestead Exclusion income limit; support for an equitable distribution method in the School Capital Fund Formula/Lottery Proceeds. as long as North Carolina chooses to conduct an educational lottery; oppose the transfer of responsibility of North Carolina’s secondary road infrastructure to counties, the elimination or decrease in current road infrastructure funding levels for municipalities or the transfer of any State maintained roads to municipalities; oppose any State efforts to force additional unfunded mandates or take away local revenues to balance the State Budget; oppose attempts to reduce a local government’s tax base, which leads to more burden on property taxpayers; support an increase in the $40 reimbursement rate for state inmates in county jails and reinstatement of the $18 misdemeanant reimbursement and oppose any attempts to increase the time that County jails are required to hold misdemeanants; and support for an exemption of State sales tax on purchases made by local school systems.
Goals proposed for the Federal legislative agenda include opposing efforts to require collective bargaining for public or private employees; support the pursuit of existing grant sources in the funding of a regional wastewater sludge management system and in the funding of a regional wastewater re-use system which will benefit the Catawba County EcoComplex; oppose new EPA ozone standards; support the implementation of streamlined sales tax; support federal legislation and policies that do not cut Medicaid funding to Catawba County EMS; maintain local funding, incentives and community-based surveillance and communication systems regarding disease spread related to a pandemic flu threat; support and encourage quicker deployment of Next Generation 911 Initiative.
CONTACT: DAVE HARDIN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER 465-8464
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